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Women We Love: Tal Winter and Kate Cutler of bkr

PEOPLE

bkr founders Tal Winter and Kate Cutler

What’s the #1 most important product for your skin? It’s not moisturizer. Not even cleanser. It’s water, clean and simple.

Now, think back to 2011 for a second. We already knew plastic water bottles were wasteful, but reusable bottles had a rather rugged, functional look. That’s what inspired Tal Winter and Kate Cutler, best friends who met in law school, to found bkr, a brand of reusable glass-and-silicone water bottles designed to be as beautiful and covetable as any beauty product.

bkr bottles are now available in sizes for every bag, and accented with rubber spikes, zodiac signs and even Swarovski crystals (proceeds from the latter benefit Water for People, a nonprofit focusing on drinking water accessibility — each crystal bottle sold provides a full month’s supply of clean water to a person in need). The brand even launched a vegan lip balm to keep lips extra hydrated.

Here, the brand’s founders (and still BFFs) share a few of their favorite things — and what they’ve learned from diving into the entrepreneurial life.

bkr founders surrounded by colorful glass and silicone water bottles

Who has been a force of good in your life and why?

For Tal, it’s Kate and for Kate, its Tal. We couldn’t do this without each other. Launching and running a company is beyond hard. There are highs and lows every hour and it’s only bearable with someone amazing by your side.

What’s one good way to start any day, no matter where you are in the world?

We travel a lot for bkr and one of our favorite ways to start our day is we get out and walk. We grab our bkr kiss kits and even if we’re exhausted we just go. Fresh air, sunshine and exercise are great for jetlag and your mood, and by walking we get to actually discover a city in a way that zipping by in a car doesn’t allow.

What’s one piece of good advice you learned from a woman in your life?

Early on at bkr we were stressed to make a very important decision quickly and a mentor told us these wise words: “If you need an answer now, the answer is no.” While you don’t want to miss out, decisions made with a gun to your head are never good decisions. Plus, we’ve learned that sometimes turning down the wrong deal is even more important than getting the right one.

What’s one good reason to take the risk and start your own business?

You only live once (as far as we know) so you have to evolve as a human and feel inspired and passionate about what you’re doing. You spend more time at work than just about anywhere else; you better like what you do.

What’s one good lesson you’ve learned from launching bkr?

If you only make products that you genuinely love more than anything else that exists in the world, those products will succeed.

What’s one good thing you do when someone around you is having a bad day?

Empathy always works — we all have bad days and should try to be there for each other.

Tell us a good story about water.

People with all sorts of health issues from arthritis and kidney problems to migraines and autoimmune conditions write to us and say that since having a bkr, they drink more water and are able to stay fully hydrated and that this has made a huge difference in the way they feel. People who are on Accutane have told us that our Paris Water Balm is the only lip balm that heals their chapped and cracking lips and the fact that it’s attached to their water bottle is their saving grace. To be able to help people in ways we never imagined is so rewarding.

Tell us about the moment that you decided to follow your passion? Can you share how you felt that day?

It felt empowering and exciting but also very scary as we were leaving established careers behind to jump into the unknown.

What’s one good recipe you always love?

Does a cocktail recipe count? We love a Brit Spritz: 2oz prosecco, 1 oz Kamm & Sons, 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and 2 oz club soda. Serve over ice with a grapefruit wedge and slice of cucumber. We love this so much and Kamm & Sons is so hard to find that our UK distributors bring it to us when they visit.

desk set-up with bkr water bottles and magazines

What one good tip do you have for multi-tasking effectively? And how did you learn it?

No one is that successful at multi-tasking. At work we try to focus on completing one task at a time and doing it well. The whole world is set to interrupt you and we try to focus on blocking out the noise.

What’s one good read you go to when you need to feel good/or a little inspiration?

We’ve always loved cupofjo.com — their house tours and beauty uniform pieces are inspiring but they also tackle hard topics like responding to grief or infertility in a genuine, intelligent way. And their reader comments are the best.

What’s one good movie where you know all of the lines?

The Sure Thing with John Cusack and the original National Lampoon’s Vacation. We might be dating ourselves but we were very young when we saw these.

What’s one good way to unwind after a long day?

Tal: Dinner at home with the people you love and a cold beer

Kate: A glass of wine

Name a woman from history whose good work inspires you.

There are many but Ruth Bader Ginsberg is an amazing living legend who has fought for gender equality and women’s rights. We love that when she was asked, “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?” she simply answered, “When there are nine.”

What’s one good story you think of when you need a laugh?

We always think back to all our crazy travel moments — we don’t know if they’re funny to anyone else. Once, we were on a long trip and had been away for a while — we were both eager to be home. Our flight was delayed and so we went to sit and have dinner. We were eating terrible salads but drinking wine and laughing and not paying attention. All of a sudden we realized we hadn’t seen or heard an update in a while. We walked to our gate to see our plane pulling away. We could have cried but instead we laughed. It’s one thing we’ve definitely learned at bkr: when you can, choose to laugh.