What do Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Reese Witherspoon all have in common?
Besides winning Academy Awards, the celebrities share a love for bkr (pronounced ‘beaker’)—a line of chic, re-usable water bottles designed by Tal Winter ‘97 and Kate Cutler ‘98. The BPA-free glass bottle comes with a silicon cover in a variety of colors that reflects current style trends. Created in 2011, bkr water bottles are now used by everyone from actors to ordinary people who want containers that serve as a fashion statement instead of an item slated for a landfill.
The two founders met as fashionable — yet broke — students at UC Hastings, where they quickly became best friends. They finally started making money after graduation, and began adopting a more glamorous lifestyle that included attending classy events in designer dresses. And whether they were working out at the gym or visiting the museum, staff were handing out plastic water bottles that made them question their consumption. “We were intelligent, cultured, fashionable and we were drinking out of trash,” Cutler said. “It was harmful for our bodies and for the earth.”
When they set out to invest in alternative options, the friends couldn’t find any containers that fit their trendy style. “There were water bottles for bike riding or hiking; but there wasn’t anything that you could carry around all of the time, sit on your desk, or put in your purse,” Cutler noted. They saw a real need for a bottle that was designed with the eco-conscious, fashionable person in mind.
After working in insurance coverage litigation for over a decade, Cutler decided to redirect her career towards bkr. “Our idea was to get people to stop the disposable lifestyle and to have fewer things,” she said.
Through their mission statement, “beauty will save the world,” Cutler and Winter hope to inspire people to drink more water and dispose of less garbage. Their bottles are currently sold in the beauty section of over 1,000 stores internationally—including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks in the US—because customers have continuously remarked that the product encouraged them to hydrate more, which resulted in clearer skin. The founders plan on expanding within the beauty world in the near future, although the 500ml and 1-liter water bottle are currently their primary products.
Although Cutler doesn’t intend on returning to a law career anytime soon, she said that UC Hastings equipped her with the legal knowledge needed to navigate the contracts, rights and obligations associated with starting a business.
Cutler recommended that current students choose their jobs carefully. “Find a place where you really like the people you’re working with and where you feel intellectually challenged,” she said. Just as she took the leap when she was itching for a career change, Cutler added: “Don’t be scared to try something new if it’s not where you want to be.”