13 Brand Founders Imagine What the Future of Beauty and Wellness Looks Like

The future of the beauty and wellness space is a tricky one for a lot of reasons. For what’s become a 500 billion dollar industry, it’s only expected to get bigger. What impact will that have on the way companies are structured? On how founders navigate the market? On how investors choose who gains capital? And which categories will remain relevant in what’s already become an incredibly saturated space?

To gain direct insight, we tapped 13 founders embedded in the scene about how they got there, what they wish you already knew, and what’s next in their field. Everyone received the same questions, that, of course, resulted in radically unique responses. Below, a guide to the future—according to the people shaping it.

Karina Primelles and Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey, co-founders, Xula

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like?

The reason we started Xula is to help womxn feel good in their bodies through the transformative power of herbs and hemp. We see CBD as a way to reintroduce people to plant medicine and plant-based wellness and have created six product lines that achieve just that. Through our products, we aim to dignify, amplify, and revive menopausal bodies, trans bodies, bodies with disabilities, nonbinary bodies, and all bodies left out of our society’s gaze. We just want to help you feel good and feel yourself!

What does the future look like in your category? 

Tailored products that are informed by the latest research and utilize a combination of both specific cannabinoid ratios and synergistic compounds to more effectively address certain needs.

The future is one in which we reduce our dependence on and offer a real alternative to pharmaceutical compounds such as opioids and benzos that are damaging to people's bodies, can create severe dependence, and ultimately are destroying communities.

Maeva Heim, founder, Bread Beauty Supply

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

BREAD is a line of hair-care essentials for textured hair (3A to 4C curl pattern types), with a mission to make textured hair care simple, starting with wash day. I created BREAD to reimagine this complex and often time-consuming routine of every curly- and coily-haired human by simplifying the hair-care wardrobe to a hair wash, hair mask, and hair oil. The assortment is vegan, cruelty-free, and features functional, clean formulas that celebrate Australian native oils and extracts.

What does the future look like in your category? 

Definitely addressing and being hyper-focused on the anatomy of our customers’ hair needs, from wash day to styling. Speaking for BREAD, from both an impact and commercial standpoint, I want to be able to develop into a brand that has significant media buying power. I want this brand to be able to have a say in the way that Black women are represented in the media, because right now it can be very one-dimensional.

Once we’re in that position and we’re able to impact those representations, my hope is that one day soon, Black women with textured all over the world hair will be able to walk into a board room with Bantu knots, or an afro, or whatever she wants, and not a single person will bat an eyelid. Because in a world where BREAD wins, that’s just our new normal.

Emily Heath Rudman, founder, EMILIE HEATHE

What do you wish people knew? 

Everything that goes into creating a brand and producing a product. Product development is the most challenging and difficult part of my job. It's a lot of logistics, oversight, constant communication, testing, time, sourcing, preparing. There are so many parts to bringing a product to market.

For example, to launch a lipstick we have a carton or box, a primary container, a bottom label, an insert, a shipper, a mold for the bullet of the lipstick. And that's just the packaging. And we have suppliers who specialize in each part. Then you get into the formulation and that's a whole other bag of research, testing, formulating, and more.

What does the future look like in your category? 

Devices and at-home solutions were growing even before the pandemic....I think at-home services will grow and so will automation. I think non-surgical beauty services will continue to grow. Refillable, waterless, and condensed products. And customization. Things to make it easier for the customer to customize themself will continue.

Matthew Herman, co-founder, Boy Smells

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like?

Make fire smell good.

What does the future look like in your category? 

I see personal fragrance becoming even more important to consumers as a way to express a new identity in a new world. There is a pent-up need to commune, travel, and engage. A new scent to explore, embrace, and express yourself is just what is needed.

Lucy Goff, founder, LYMA

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

LYMA operates in a new space that traditional wellness has left behind. Optimal wellness is more than vitamins, gym sessions, and eating well. LYMA combines the best, category-defining science and technology, proven to change people’s lives and help them feel their best. By bringing together new science and technology from different industries, we are able to provide real solutions for the huge swaths of people disserved by traditional health and beauty, until now. LYMA is the future of wellness.

What does the future look like in your category? 

LYMA has already defined two categories and has plans to define others. However, each product LYMA brings to market is only the start of its journey. We continually work with our network of the best scientists and researchers from around the world to bring the latest scientific breakthroughs to market. Every year we update our products to ensure that everything we offer is the best, to help people look and feel their best, and always at the cutting-edge of science and technology.

Steven Himmel, founder, Vanterra Accelerator Fund and Shad Azimi, founder, Vanterra Capital

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

Vanterra seeks to be capital providers and partners to talented entrepreneurs, to help them achieve their dreams. For example, if you have an idea to build the next great wellness or “better for you” business, but do not have the money or resources to actually execute, we would provide that support. We endeavor to identify the trends within the beauty, wellness, and health space and then seek out the best founders with the best brands to invest in.

What does the future look like in your category? 

Customers are becoming more and more educated when it comes to healthy living and wellness. If you look back in time, many advocates for health and wellness-focused on isolated techniques to improve health. Whether that was taking a specific vitamin for a specific ailment, or working a specific or isolated muscle group to gain strength.

Advocates are now better understanding that there is a confluence of factors that help achieve optimal health, whether that is the interplay of specific vitamins and supplements when taken together, whole-body, functional movement when achieving peak fitness, or even the interplay between mental health and physical health. The concept of “healthy living” is far more interconnected than we realize. Essentially, the sum is greater than the individual parts. This is something that will be better understood in the coming years.

Alisia Ford, founder, Glory Skincare 

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like?

Glory is an inclusive skin health brand focused on clean targeted treatments formulated for melanin-rich skin from head to toe. We believe that skin care should be created based on what you really want, not by some marketing executive who decides for you. We use the data from our Glory SkincareQuiz to understand exactly what our community needs and wants so that we can provide non-toxic skin-care solutions curated to fit your unique skin needs.

What does the future look like in your category? 

We are in the beginning stages of a multi-year journey addressing and educating the market about inflammation in the body and how it is having a significant impact on the skin. In the years to come, we hope to address this problem more directly and also provide a solution for our community to turn to.

Jonathan Villafane, co-founder, Tecco Skin

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

“Tecco” is a Latinx and queer-owned skin-care brand that stands for the collision of “tech” and “eco”. Our potent, skin barrier boosting formulas blend biotechnology and natural ingredients. Our vegan and fragrance-free V.H.S. Collection was created to give you vibrant, hydrated skin.

What do you wish people knew?

I wish people knew how difficult it is to start a small business in a world that caters to corporations. From packaging and manufacturing to eco-friendly alternatives, small businesses are blocked by large minimum order quantities and large fees. Thankfully, we found other ways to squeeze past those order minimums without breaking the bank, but it took a while to actualize Tecco without sacrificing our vision or aesthetic.

Julia Cheek, founder, Everlywell

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

Everlywell, a leading digital health company, believes Americans deserve access to affordable lab tests and insightful, digitally-enabled results with actionable next steps.

The company connects individuals to certified labs offering a suite of validated lab tests including cholesterol, heart health, fertility, STIs, Lyme disease, testosterone, thyroid, and more. Everlywell also offers FDA-authorized at-home sample collection test kits for COVID-19 .

What does the future look like in your category? 

Before the pandemic, we already saw that people were seeking out healthcare services that looked like the things they relied on in other areas of their lives.

Traditional healthcare is slow and complicated; you rarely have many choices and you almost never know how much anything will cost. But the rise of direct-to-consumer services like Warby Parker, Hims, and PillPack (now Amazon Pharmacy) shows that people will go out of their way to seek out services that they can afford and understand, and that fit their busy lifestyles—even when it means having to pay out of pocket instead of letting insurance cover it and risking a surprise bill....

Within the next one-to-five years, most Americans will be shopping for their own virtual therapists, buying lab tests like Everlywell’s next to the vitamin aisle of their local pharmacy, and signing up for app-based concierge services to help manage chronic conditions and achieve their health goals. Insurance companies and health plans will either need to start covering those kinds of direct-to-consumer and home-based healthcare services or risk being left behind.

We believe we are approaching a new normal and we meet people where they are, enabling them to get care for their mind, their body, and even their chronic conditions from home.

LaLa Romero and Natalia Durazo, co-founders, Sweet Street Cosmetics

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

Sweet Street is a beauty line that celebrates beauty and artistry originated by women of color. We saw a gap in the beauty space when it came to highlighting a subculture deeply rooted in generational beauty rituals and culture. We aim to authentically tell this story with innovative products and empower women who have been traditionally overlooked.

How do ethics, values, and a greater good for the planet play into your brand strategy?

When creating our packaging and products, we try to be mindful of creating something that feels special and encourages customers to repurpose one way or another. Think of it like a keepsake box where you add all of your love letters, notes from friends, jewelry, etc. For example, we have girls who hang up our wrapping paper on the walls of their room. We create pieces that are timestamps that someone would not want to throw away.

Cary Lin and Angela Ubias, co-founders, Common Heir

If you had to describe to a person with knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

Common Heir stands for sustainable-meets-luxury skin care that’s all results with zero plastic. We launched in April 2021 to make conscious products a beautiful part of our skin-care traditions and rituals. As two clean beauty vets who have built over 50 to 60 clean and indie beauty brands over the past 12 years, we intimately knew the scale of the problem firsthand. Less than nine percent of plastic has ever been recycled, and there simply aren’t good options out there that are kind to skin and planet.

So despite a global pandemic, we embarked on a journey to create that vision ourselves.

Everything we design is made to become your new favorite product, crafted with intention, attention to detail—from formula to packaging, to manufacturing—and respect and reverence for the environment. In April, we were thrilled to launch our hero product: a world-first vitamin C serum that is clinically proven to visibly brighten, even skin tone, and improve skin texture in biodegradable, 100 percent plastic-free packaging.

What does the future look like in your category? 

Common Heir at its core is built on innovation—innovation in format, formula, and in packaging. In our collective experience of having our hands in well over 50 beauty brands, we’ve seen the cosmetic material and ingredient portion of the industry level up in terms of offering and creating ingredients that are efficacious but also clean and more sustainably sourced.

It’s incredible to bear witness to and that’s why this movement of clean or conscious beauty has become what it is to date. Now the packaging side of the industry needs to catch up. Looking ahead to what is possible, the beauty industry is heading towards removing plastic as the crutch that it relies on. We’re thrilled to continue to tackle this problem.

Michelle Ranavat, founder, RANAVAT

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

RANAVAT is a skin- and hair-care line inspired by Indian wellness rituals including adaptogenic beauty and Ayurveda. India is a place where so many wellness rituals we know and love today have originated from: meditation, yoga, adaptogen supplements, and RANAVAT is a vehicle to share these rituals from a beauty perspective.

What does the future look like in your category? 

Storytelling! One of the most unique aspects of our brand is the history behind each treatment. We want to share beautiful visuals and interviews with the artisans to bring the brand history to life!. The future in skin care is around providing a deeper meaning to our rituals—not just indulging in the latest trends, but to bring us closer to self care and our overall well being.

The future is about embracing the cultural origins of the wellness trends we re-discover and realizing we are more alike than we are different. Specifically, within skin care, I believe we will be focusing more on the impact of stress and how it contributes to aging. Adaptogens in our skin care and stress-relieving practices like yoga and meditation will be a significant part of our beauty and skin routines.

Stephanie Lee, founder Selfmade

If you had to describe to a person with no knowledge of your industry what you do, what would it sound like? 

SELFMADE creates personal care and digital products designed to help establish everyday rituals of mental health and wellbeing. Each product is developed with mental health experts and focuses on a psychological concept like how we form bonds with ourselves and others, and how we remain resilient in the face of challenges. Made to be paired with our digital 21-day tool, the CommonRoom, our products act as road signs on our self-exploration journey.

What does the future look like in your category? 

We continue to find new avenues to center the experiences of Black, Indigenous people and people of color whether in product, storytelling, or creative ventures. We want to reshape the way the world looks and feels about itself, and drive home a full understanding of the most important relationship we can have in our lifetimes: our relationship with self. We are so excited to continue optimizing our digital tool, CommonRoom, and its impact on building emotional vocabulary and skills for self-exploration.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for space.

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