Courtesy, Wholy Dose.
The wellness industry was already growing at a rapid speed over the last few years, and now with the coronavirus pandemic scare, wellness is at its peak even if everyone is no longer safely quarantined at home. Whether it was boosting our immune system with a higher than usual dose of vitamin C or doubling up on the latest Matcha trends, we definitely overindulged with no intention of slowing down.
One of our newest wellness craze has been ingestible beauty, a term we got familiar with only three years ago after discovering collagen supplements. So when we had the chance to catch up with Wholy Dose founder Gina Holzer on how she got started, the hurdles she overcame as a new skintrepreneur, the benefits of ingestible beauty, and her everyday skin routine, we were stoked.
"After spending 10 years trying countless products in an attempt to improve my skin, nothing worked until I discovered the power of ingestible beauty." Gina tells us. After two years of research and product development, Gina launched Wholy Dose, a beauty and wellness supplement brand. Combining effective absorption with clean, clinically-supported ingredients, Wholy Dose provides restorative benefits for skin, hair, nails – as well as health and wellness. It is available online at Pop-In@Nordstrom New Beauty, BUBBLE, Chillhouse, Dough, and Wholy Dose
On discovering ingestible beauty:
"Once I discovered the power of ingestible beauty, especially collagen, I wanted to share my experience to provide others with the education and access that I didn’t have so that they could get results that most topical products don't offer. I grew up with insecurity issues and tried to change the way I looked in order to fit in [traditional beauty standards]. So, when I discovered ingestible beauty and started getting results that allowed me to improve myself instead of trying to change myself, it was a huge moment for me. I finally accepted myself and appreciated who I was for who I am and how I looked – I began to truly love myself.
The first time I heard about ingestible beauty was in 2015, which, at the time, was still very early for the concept of ingestible beauty. The ingredient that I first learned about was collagen, so I went to a very famous beauty/wellness shop in NYC looking for collagen. Upon asking the salesperson if they have any collagen products, she sort of ridiculed me saying “well you can’t consume collagen since it’s something in your body”. Assuming she was the expert at the time, I went on and bought another product that of course, didn’t do anything for my skin or hair. Fast forward to today, collagen is touted as a powerful, natural, and scientifically backed ingestible beauty ingredient that does wonders for your skin, hair and health."
On the aha moment that inspired Wholy Dose:
"I lived in constant search looking for products that I hoped would improve my skin and grow my hair and eyebrows thicker, but after trying countless products for over 10 years – including topical products, vitamins, and even changing my diet – nothing gave me those results. So, I continued my search for something that would give me confidence-boosting results that I yearned for since I was 13 years old. Not giving up, I began to heavily research and experiment with different supplement blends in my New York City apartment, which is when I discovered a formula that finally gave me the results I spent a decade looking for. Full disclosure: I took biotin alone before, but it didn’t do anything for me. "
The inspiration behind the brand name:
"When I started to see results from my homemade collagen-based powders, I was like “holy sh*t” [laughs]. But really, it was the “holy grail” for me in terms of beauty and health. My skin finally improved, pores tightened, skin smoothened and looked less dull, hair grew thicker (eyebrows and eyelashes included), and my immune system strengthened significantly. I never experienced those things before; hence, the formula was my holy grail and gave me results I spent over 10 years trying to find. That holy grail formula is Wholy Dose’s base formula today. In truth, the brand name was actually one of the last things I came up with."
How exactly she got started:
"Once I knew this is what I wanted to do, I just went all in and did it. I started by asking people I knew who were in the wellness/health/beauty business, but didn't have much luck. What I found out was that most people who worked in the industry chose not to help me. So I had to learn on my own and learn as I go.
So, without having prior knowledge or help from those already involved in the industry, I researched how to start a wellness + beauty e-commerce business and started by talking with manufacturers. I reached out to hundreds of manufacturers to get pricing and more information before I was able to find one to work with (I learned that most don’t want to talk to new brands or unless you have an insanely high order volume). Once I found a manufacturer to work with, samples were created and iterated until it was ready to be mass produced."
On the product development stage:
"Product development started with getting samples created, tested, and iterated. Since our products are natural supplements versus topical products, we didn’t need to work with a chemist. We worked with our manufacturer to source ingredients, but ended up having to find our own suppliers for certain ingredients to maintain the quality and taste I wanted for the products. For the most part, product development was an exciting stage with many challenges we were able to overcome through persistence and putting in the work on our end, as opposed to relying on the manufacturer for everything."
First time skintrepreneur hurdles she overcame:
"The manufacturing was the most difficult stage since most manufacturers won’t even talk to you unless you’re a well established brand or have a large order volume, which we didn’t since we were (and still are) a startup without the resources that larger companies have.
Another hurdle was figuring out how to build and engage our audience. Digital marketing has changed so much over the last few years, so the strategies I originally planned didn’t pan out the way I thought they would–since product development took over 1 year, the marketing landscape changed drastically by the time we launched. But through trial and error, and even re-branding, we were able to grow and engage our audience, which we’re still continuing to do today. So, a tip is to anticipate and plan your marketing strategies closer to launch! It’s great to have a marketing plan during ideation, but keep in mind that your tactics may not be relevant in a few months or a year.”
On her big moments:
"The biggest moment was when we launched in Nordstrom’s “Pop-In@Nordstrom New Beauty” this year, which focuses on brands that support sustainability, ethnicity, conscious practices, community, and color. Wholy Dose launched only a year ago, so to get into a big retailer within the first year was definitely an aha entrepreneurial moment.
Another big moment as an entrepreneur was being invited as a guest speaker at the 2020 Ingestible Beauty Summit. These types of summits–where people fly in from all around the world to see you speak, and where you huge attendees like Amazon, Target, and Forbes–usually showcase larger companies, so being invited to speak at this one alongside some of the major brands in the space was a real honor."
The Wholy Dose hero product you need and why:
"I would say all of our products are our hero products because they have our “wholy grail” formula of collagen, biotin, and silica. So, all of our products have the same benefits, with our MATCHA and CACAO Beauty Superfood Powders having slightly more benefits due to the matcha and cacao added.
Some key benefits are: brighten and rejuvenate skin complexion, reduce dullness, lock in hydration for a natural glow, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, strengthen new hair growth (lashes and brows included), reduce nail breakage, improve gut health and digestion, boost metabolism and energy, and support joint, muscle, and bone health."
Favorite Wholy Dose key ingredient:
"Definitely collagen. Collagen was a game changer in my beauty and health routine and gave me results that other products and ingredients couldn’t. It’s such a super ingredient in skincare, haircare, and health."
On her Everyday Skin routine:
"In the morning, I cleanse my face with a gentle cleanser or an exfoliator, two to three times per week (exfoliants help clear up my pores since my skin type is combination-oily/acne-prone). Then, I mist on a witch hazel + rose spray, followed by a brightening eye mask (I wake up quite early so eye bags are common even on my best days!). After the eye mask, I apply a benzoyl-peroxide treatment (it’s great at killing bacteria for those with acne-prone skin), then apply a moisturizer. After these steps I use a face roller to increase blood flow and reduce puffiness in my face. Lastly, I apply sunscreen (every day).
My night routine is more simple. I double cleanse, starting with an oil based cleanser and followed by a cleanser that contains salicylic acid (great for stripping away oils for those with oily skin), then, I apply retinol (a must for shrinking the appearance of pores and helping with hyperpigmentation), and finish with a little moisturizer. Sometimes, I’ll use a face roller or eye serum depending on how my skin is feeling.
I do masks a few times a week, which include the Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, containing ingredients like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid to deeply exfoliate the skin, and on other days, I use a volcanic bentonite clay mask to clear up dirt and pores.
Lastly, I can’t forget my ingestible skincare routine! I never skip a day of Wholy Dose and add our UNFLAVORED Beauty Superfood Powder to my morning coffee and/or whip up a matcha latte with our MATCHA Beauty Superfood Powder."
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.