With the goal of making holistic wellness more accessible, NYU pre-med graduate Trinity Mouzon Wofford founded superfood beauty brand Golde in 2017. Completely self-funding the business, Trinity leaned into community-building and organic marketing which helped her become the youngest black woman to launch a line at Sephora. Now carried at several other retailers including Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, REVOLVE, the brand has doubled its revenues every year since launch. Here, Trinity shares the brand’s story, how they’re leveraging social media for growth and the best advice she has for fellow entrepreneurs.
Why did you decide to start Golde?
I've been passionate about wellness and accessibility for a long time now. I first got excited about holistic health through my mom, who has a debilitating autoimmune disease. She switched over to seeing a more holistically-minded physician and saw this incredible improvement in her symptoms. That really opened my eyes and made me want to be a doctor myself. I was on that career path until I heard that my mom had to stop seeing that doctor because she couldn't afford it anymore. I realized that if I was going to do something in wellness, it needed to be for everybody. Post-college, I sort of fell into a marketing career at a tech startup in New York. I absolutely loved it, but I also knew that I wanted to get back to my larger vision. That's where Golde was born from—the idea that wellness could be approachable for the everyday person.
What has been the hardest part or most eye-opening thing about starting Golde?
"I really try to lean into those conversations, because that’s how we build a brand to last."
We've self-funded the business up until this point, so cash flow is always top of mind. At times, that has kept us from being able to jump into some of the growth opportunities I wanted, but in the end, I wouldn't trade that experience. In today's over-funded startup environment, it feels like a luxury that we were able to organically build the brand while focusing squarely on our community and our product. The first few times I heard other people talk about our brand was really eye-opening moments for me. You can try to understand on your own what’s going to resonate with your brand, but nothing beats hearing it directly from the community. I really try to lean into those conversations, because that’s how we build a brand to last.
After Golde launched at Sephora last year, what's next for the brand?
The Sephora launch was huge for us—I'm the youngest black woman on record to ever launch a line with them. It really proved to us that there is a mainstream appetite for wellness that’s coming from a place of approachability. Right now, we’re taking on our first serious investor conversations after three years of bootstrapping. We’ve been extremely intentional with our brand strategy and we’re continuing that into our investor conversations. We’re really excited about 2020. We’re going to be adding new SKUs, growing the team, and testing out new marketing initiatives. You’ll be seeing a lot more of us this year.
What are you currently working on that’s unique or innovative?
We're really focused on creating new targeted ingestibles based on what our community is telling us. Look for new delivery systems and benefit stories across beauty and wellbeing.
What’s the most exciting thing happening in marketing right now and how is it shaping the future?
I’m so excited by the prospect of having more conversations with our growing community. We’re still a relatively small business, but we over-index on community engagement. I think that’s because we speak to our customers like they’re our friends—because, honestly, they are. We’re a diverse, Millennial / Gen-Z team building products for people who look and think like us. We’re in touch with this community every day on social, and we’re asking them to help us build the brand together. I think that 1:1 touchpoint is really huge for driving organic connections, and it's the future of marketing across the board.
As a community-focused brand, how are you thinking about social strategy?
"As a modern brand, our job is really to guide the conversation rather than control the narrative."
UGC is a huge part of our content strategy. Now in 2020, most of the content we share is actually created organically by a mixture of brand ambassadors and real-life customers, rather than being produced in-house. We have the capability to create these gorgeous, high-res product shots, but what really resonates with our audience is the stuff that feels truly unfiltered. As a modern brand, our job is really to guide the conversation rather than control the narrative.
What entrepreneurial skills or traits have most aided to your success?
I identify as a focused optimist. I'm excited by challenges and am driven by finding ways to solve them. I believe wholly in the power of possibility, which keeps me from getting caught up in navigating self-doubt. That said, pairing that with laser focus has been key in allowing our team to actually achieve those big picture visions.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs or marketers shifting to start-ups?
Have fun with it, every single day. Sometimes I speak with founders who are in the early stages of dreaming up their business, and they're already fatigued and frustrated. It's understandable (this stuff is hard!), but if the work leaves you feeling more defeated than energized, startup life might not be a fit for you. I'm not saying every day is easy, or even enjoyable, but you've got to keep coming back to why you started. I'm even more excited about Golde now than I was when we launched.