A Day in the Life of the Youngest Black Woman to Launch a Brand in Sephora
If you dream of starting a company and want the inside scoop of what it’s like running the day-to-day of the business, you’ve come to the right place. In our series Startup Diaries, we ask new founders to take us to work for a day, and reflect on what they discovered during the process.
Today, we get the play-by-play from Trinity Mouzon Wofford, co-founder of the superfood wellness and beauty brand, Golde.
For Trinity Mouzon Wofford, inclusivity and holistic health are at the center of her brand, Golde. Wofford founded the company with her longtime partner, Issey Kobori, after watching her mother struggle with a chronic autoimmune disease.
Golde is a Brooklyn-based company making superfood essentials for health and beauty. They use real superfood extracts to create an array of products — from smoothie boosters to face masks — with the goal of making holistic health products accessible to all who need it. Golde’s products have been carried in Madewell, Free People, and goop. And, in April, Wofford became the youngest Black woman to ever launch a brand in the multinational beauty store Sephora.
We took a look at Wofford’s schedule to learn about her typical day as a young founder running a two-year-old startup in the wellness space.
6:00am — It’s a gloomy Monday so I “sleep in” (I’m generally up between 5:00–6:00am every day). I get up to check my emails and brush my teeth. If anything’s super urgent, I’ll handle it right then and there. I find that my brain is the most active very early in the morning so from 6:00 am to noon are my key moments to get stuff done, especially the more challenging stuff. I try to capture as much of that as possible and I’ve noticed once 4:00 pm rolls around I’m not as sharp so I try to stack the early part of my day and go from there.
6:30am — I do a quick yoga routine via YouTube from my living room floor. At this time my boyfriend/business partner isn’t up yet, so it’s a nice opportunity for me to take some time for myself. Sometimes it’s hard to commit to a workout, but I find that even 30 minutes of stretching resets my mind in a powerful way.
7:00am — I hop in the shower and then get dressed.
8:00am — I’m at my desk and ready to dig into everything. I work from home with my boyfriend, Issey, so there’s no commute which is great.
8:00am — 9:00am — I’mandling inquiries that came in over the weekend — everything from partnership requests, press features, to retailers looking to stock our products. I’m also setting up my to-do list for the rest of the day. Right now we’re working through a few new product launches, so at 9:00am we’re connecting over morning smoothies on [our] product roadmap and next steps.
10:00am — 12:00pm — I’m bouncing between meetings for upcoming partnerships and events for the summer. We have several pop-up events scheduled this summer in both New York and the west coast. I’m taking calls and meetings with space managers for each spot to ensure that everything is set up for success for the events. I had one meeting at a cafe and posted up here for a few hours to take the rest of the phone calls.
12:00pm — I’m back at home for lunch. I throw together a quick salad bowl from leftovers in the fridge: wheat berries, romaine, artichokes, and a big scoop of homemade hummus. Super easy and filling.
12:30pm — I’m back into emails for a few hours. We’re working on product development for a few new SKUs, so I’m reaching out to our manufacturers and suppliers for samples of packaging and raw materials.
3:00pm — Issey and I break for our daily walk and talk. Typically we’ll walk for at least an hour every day around our neighborhood. It’s really therapeutic to get out of the house since we work from home. The walks are also really helpful as an opportunity to talk through any big decisions that I’m feeling blocked on. It’s been scientifically proven that walking helps with decision-making, and it’s something I’ve integrated into my work strategy.
4:00pm — 5:00pm — I’m wrapping up emails from earlier.
5:00pm — I help Issey out with dinner — he’s making a yummy summer-y soup with zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms. We sit down to eat around 6:00pm and then catch up on some TV.
I’m usually in bed by around 9:30pm so I can get plenty of rest before my early AM wakeup!
Okay, so that was your day. How did it compare to your ideal or “perfect” day?
It wasn’t a terrible day! As founder days go, it was a pretty typical Monday. Mondays for us are always a bit of a sprinted marathon on the laptop. Everything piles up over the weekend and everyone else around you is kind of jumping into their projects and emailing for this and that. Generally, my days end succinctly at 5:00pm, but this day I’m pretty sure I was preparing dinner and still responding to emails at 8:00 pm. Once it all added up, it was pretty close to a 12-hour day.
I still made time to take my nice hour-long walk with my boyfriend/co-founder. It’s non-negotiable that I have to get outside and move for an hour so I got that done, got a lot of things taken care of and nothing exploded! As far as Mondays go, it was pretty good.
What was it like keeping track of your day?
It’s always interesting to see how a day breaks down, especially in the world that I am in where often you just wake up and put out fires from morning to night and address whatever seems to be the most urgent. I think I have this on any given Monday, where ten different things are a five out of five on the priority scale, but you really only have time to do eight of those ten things in that day. So it’s always interesting to take a look back and say, how much of my stuff did I actually manage to get done and how much did I optimize for my time. It was a good day — and they’re definitely not all that good.
How do you stay organized and on task?
I keep track of any meeting on Google calendar and I have a few different layers of to-do lists. I have a personal to-do list that either written down in a notebook or in the notes app on my phone.
The company uses an app called Monday. Every productivity app has its pro and cons, but it’s really helpful once you get into larger project management. Up to a certain point in Golde’s lifespan, I was able to just keep myself organized with a personal to-do list, but once we started launching new products, and launching ambassador programs where multiple different parties are involved and we’re planning 60 to 90 days out, we needed something that shows visibility across the team and outlines all the different priorities. These two things in conjunction keep me reasonably organized, which is a huge part of my self-care routine.
Being in wellness, I get asked how I take care of myself a lot. My number one answer is that I make lists. As long as I know what needs to be done, I can keep a handle on any anxiety that rises up.
How does your life as a founder compare to what you thought it was going to be?
I think about this a lot, and talk to my co-founder about this a lot, because we’ve been in it since the beginning. And before that, we’ve been dating since we were 17, so it’s been interesting. In some ways, I thought I was going to be so much further along two years in, but in other ways, I could not possibly have imagined how good it would be and how much we would’ve accomplished in under three years.
“Being in wellness, I get asked how I take care of myself a lot. My number one answer is that I make lists. As long as I know what needs to be done, I can keep a handle on any anxiety that rises up.”
When you are visualizing what you think entrepreneurship is going to look like, you are focused on a different set of priorities than what actually happens when you have that business. It’s a really cool opportunity to grow and learn about yourself, learn about whoever you are in partnership within your business, and get better at leading people. It has made me a more intuitive person.
Why did you decide to found your own company?
When I was in high school, I was planning on being a holistic physician. That career path was inspired by my mom’s health journey. She is dealing with an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and when she switched over to seeing a more holistically minded physician, she saw a massive improvement in her symptoms.
When I was in pre-med at NYU, I found out that mom had to stop seeing her doctor because she could not afford it. I had this moment of internal reckoning: am I going to practice holistic care for people who can afford that lifestyle, or am I going to try to fix the U.S. medical insurance industry? Neither of those things seemed appealing to me at the time, so after graduation, I sort of fell into a marketing career after graduating with a psych degree. I was working at a small startup, and I absolutely loved building a brand, working on a small team, and the startup environment.
All the while, I had this influence from my partner’s family who owns a candle company in Upstate New York where we both were raised. So they have a small factory, a handful of employees, and they run the business together as a family. My partner and I always had this window into what it could look like to run a business together. Being able to see that example up close is what gave us the idea that this was something that we could even consider doing. Another big part of it was naiveté. I was 24 when we started, so we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into; we just thought that we wanted to do something really cool in the wellness space.
Ultimately, Golde was influenced by my own experiences in the wellness space and feeling a bit left out of those conversations as a person of color. We wanted to build a brand and product that would take superfoods and make them more approachable [for] a diverse audience. That’s what we started with and it grew organically from there.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome while trying to scale your business?
Capital is the biggest one. We’ve chosen not to fundraise at this point, so we’re 100 percent independently owned. We get a lot of investors knocking nowadays and it’s not something we’re totally opposed to, it’s just that our company is super young and there is a lot of room for us to continue to grow in an organic way. As we continue to get inbound requests from companies like Sephora, there’s a bit of a challenge there.
“Ultimately, Golde was influenced by my own experiences in the wellness space and feeling a bit left out of those conversations as a person of color.”
These retailers are used to working with brands that have been around for a decade or more and have millions of dollars in the bank. We are just two people. So we try to be honest with our partners about where we’re at as a company. There’s so much excitement now around supporting small business and young entrepreneurs, so we’ve gotten a lot of support from our retail partners thus far and we’re really grateful to have them. But because we haven’t raised money, we can’t spend $50,000 a month on Facebook ads. So one of our customer acquisition strategies is to partner with some of the greatest retailers in the country. They’ve been instrumental in allowing us to see this growth.
[That said], we’re a little over two years in and profitable. We really don’t spend a lot of money, and we watch every single dollar. There may very well be a time when we would be open to having conversations with investors and partners of all sizes in order to figure out how to get our business to the next stages. Right now we’re still in this super fun, early stage of our business, and we want to continue learning and building it as we are. We’ll always keep an open mind about what it takes to move forward.
- Ash Baccus-Clark