a beautiful life

The Only Black Woman at the Helm of a Major Wellness Brand

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Courtesy of Golde

In 2020, the Black-owned wellness company Golde made five times the amount of revenue that it did in 2019. In the month of June alone, the company saw more sales than in the entirely of 2019. CEO and co-founder Trinity Mouzon Wofford (the youngest Black woman to launch a business at Sephora) started the brand with her high-school sweetheart Issey Kobori in 2017. Their goal: to make the buzzy world of wellness more accessible and fun for the next generation of consumers.

Driven by the lockdown, the increased interest in self-care, and the growing movement to support Black-owned businesses following the murder of George Floyd, Golde’s growth has been “nothing short of an explosion,” Mouzon Wofford says. Kourtney Kardashian and Beyoncé featured the brand’s Clean Greens mask. In August, the company appeared on the Today show and had its biggest sales day ever.

Business continues to thrive, with Golde now launching at Target with Super-Ades, a collection of beverage powders for $15 and under containing super-ingredients like probiotics, magnesium, blueberries, and pineapples that you can easily mix with water. The brand’s masks can be found at the national retailer now too. The Cut talked to Mouzon Wofford about going to bed at 9 p.m., the power of being told no, and where wellness should go from here.

What’s the wildest luxury beauty experience you’ve ever had?
I have to be honest. I’m not a very splurge-y person at all. I’m remarkably simple with my routine.

What, in your opinion, is the best affordable beauty product or products, and why?
I like anything with simple, natural ingredients that work. So often you don’t have to pay a premium for those. Things such as raw African shea butter you can get at beauty supply stores. It comes in a big yellow tub. It is so good for breakouts and you put it on skin irritations. It’s not expensive, and that container will last you half your life. I love that. It’s nice to have a mix of old staples like that mixed in with the more innovative products coming out today.

Fill in the blank: Unfortunately, _______ is worth it.
Going to bed at 9 p.m. That is my ritual. It’s been my whole life, honestly. I’m such a morning person. I like to be up at the crack of dawn and start to wind things down early on. I’ve leaned into it in the past five years.

Many of us are looking for quick fixes in wellness, but we don’t consider sleeping. It’s important to come back to these baselines that your body needs. It’s not about looking or feeling tired; your body has to repair and regenerate and make that space for sleep. I try to wrap up work stuff by 6–6:30 and eat dinner by 7 p.m., so I have a few hours before going to bed.

What about eye cream? Do you believe in it? Do you have a favorite?
I don’t use it. I’m such a minimalist with my routine. I wash my face, use a serum or a mist or something, depending on what happens to be on my counter, and a moisturizer or nice face oil. That’s it.

I wear makeup maybe five days out of the year. Check in with me in 10–15 years and see how I feel. I’m not overly concerned with the size of my pores or if a wrinkle shows up — that’s part of existence and that’s beautiful. As long as your skin is healthy and you’re smiling, you look great.

Do you think of beauty as self-care? Why or why not?
Both are categories that sit under the self-care umbrella, but self-care can be even broader than that. It’s making sure that you feel organized for the workday ahead. It’s checking things off your list, calling a friend. It’s what helps you feel like your best self — that’s the most positive way to look at it. So I absolutely include our beauty routines in that.

Has the way you think about beauty changed during the pandemic? How so?
I have come to appreciate my beauty and wellness routines on a deeper level. We’ve seen that a lot from our community. Folks are spending more time at home, so there is a real need to build rituals and moments that feel like an anchor for what is a stressful and unpredictable time. There is also a large role for communities in beauty and wellness, and that’s what we’ve been focused on at Golde — not just with our Instagram, but with our brand-ambassador program and scaling that out. We have 100 members and just about a thousand excited to join. During a time like this when we feel disconnected, it’s an opportunity for connection and relationships.

We want to break down the barriers around wellness. Wellness can feel a bit overwhelming and exclusive, but when you see people that you relate to sharing their everyday tips, it demystifies the concept. Diverse voices in the wellness space — that’s something we could all use more of today.

What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
That it’s not very glamorous. Entrepreneurship is hard, all-consuming, and it takes a long time to get something off the ground. I just started paying myself in 2020, in the second half of my third year. I put everything that I had into this. Entrepreneurship is often glamorized. One of the things I aspire to do is take the opacity out of that and share more realistically about what it takes to build a business. Hopefully, it will inspire other women of color to start businesses. Also, it will allow folks to make the decision about whether it’s right for them. It’s quite the undertaking.

I didn’t build this business with the intention of having a team; it was just me and my partner. We just kept growing and found these incredible people along the way who believe in us and what we were doing. That has been the most delightful surprise of this process — the dedication we see from our small and growing team.

What was the biggest no you heard in your career, and what did you learn from it?
I’ve gotten so many. I’ve gotten dozens of nos from investors in particular. The funny thing we heard most often from investors is that we were “too early” for them. But investors love pre-revenue businesses with big dreams and no results. What they have a hard time with is pulling the trigger on actually “existing money” from day zero. I hope that we will start to see more investors who know what it looks like to build a business sustainably over time, as opposed to gunning for an exit within three years of launch. Those brands are built like Golde — ones that have real staying power for the long term.

Every no has strengthened our business that much more. We have exceeded the expectations of what a business can do with extreme capital efficiency. In the end, I feel very grateful for the investors who told me no. They forced me to continue to build the business with nothing but my own grit and resilience.

Where would you like to see the beauty industry go from here?
More inclusivity. I am the only Black woman at the helm of a major brand in the wellness space. There is a real opportunity to go beyond having more representation with models and influencers that you’re using. There can be a deeper level of progress with diverse folks in leadership positions, building brands they want to see in the world.

The Only Black Woman at the Helm of a Major Wellness Brand