Wofford We’re around two and a half
years into building Golde, and you’ve
been at this so long. I want to hear all
of your experience.
Minkoff It feels like 45 years. I say
that because things have changed
so fast. When we started, social
media was not a thing. And now it’s
our currency. Now that Instagram is
shoppable, do you find the majority
of your customers come from
Wofford It’s huge for us. And it’s
been huge for us from the very
beginning, even when we had
maybe a thousand followers total
for the brand and one product.
Minkoff What do you think keeps
Wofford We’re very honest. We
made the branding ourselves—and
people always tell us they love it.
My partner and I are coming up with
all of it in our Brooklyn apartment.
People are really craving authenticity
on social, so I think it’s allowed us to
grab attention there.
Minkoff You say your partner—
is that your business partner or
Wofford Both. We met in high school
in a pre-premed track—we both
wanted to be doctors. Now we live
together and run the business
together. I can’t imagine doing it
alone—but sometimes business seeps
into the personal moments. I think it
has been kind of good for us, because
it forces us out of opportunities to
have little fights: You kind of just have
to get back to work. In working with
your brother, have you found that, or
do you find that it creates tension?
Minkoff We definitely have our
arguments. But we air our issues
In the boardroom or the cutting room, these women are changing the
way we dress ourselves—and modernizing a $300 billion market. Twenty years ago, Rebecca Minko; moved to New York City at 18 with dreams of starting a fashion label. In the months after the 9/11 terror attacks, Minko;’s “I love NY” T-shirt put her on TV and in fashion magazines. Four years later, her namesake label’s “Morning After Bag”—a $600 leather carryall—became a milestone purchase for the upwardly stylish. The longtime bestseller gave Minko; the revenue she needed to expand her brand’s apparel o;erings and add a footwear line. Alongside the company’s CEO, her brother
Uri, Minko; went on to steer her business through the Great Recession and
become a social media pioneer. Today, she has a $100 million brand with two
million followers across digital platforms, space in 900 stores worldwide—and
her journey in fashion is nearly as famous as her edgy boots and leather jackets.
Minko; has long used her global platform to advocate for female entrepreneurs. Last year, she launched the Female Founder Collective—an alliance of
mutually supportive women-run businesses with a seal that 50,000 Instagram
followers can recognize and promote. For Inc.’s 40th anniversary, she joined
our Founders Project, which pairs 40 CEOs just starting up with experienced
mentors who, like Minko;, can o;er candid, time-tested advice.
Our mentee in this issue, Trinity Mouzon Wo;ord, also moved to New
York City with a vision. Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, she
watched her mother struggle with health issues and developed an interest
in homeopathic medicine. Pursuing premed tracks in high school and then
at New York University in New York City, Wo;ord identified a disconnect
among Millennials “between that crunchy granola stu; that we all grew up
with” and ultraluxe new wellness products.
“I wanted to make that space a little more friendly and fun,” she says.
Using the potent anti-inflammatory spice turmeric as a base, Wo;ord began
formulating a superfood powder that her health-minded peers could add to
smoothies, water, or co;ee. She didn’t have much of a starter fund, but she did
have the drive to succeed—and a life partner–turned–business partner, Issey
Kobori, who was willing to move upstate with her to save money while they
worked on their business. There, Wo;ord perfected her recipe for the Original
Golde Tonic—a blend of turmeric, coconut, ginger, and other spices—while
Kobori learned to design product packaging and honed his photography skills to
make Wo;ord’s online presence shine. They named their wellness brand Golde
and launched online and in a couple of New York City cafés in 2017.
It didn’t take long for the startup’s “good vibes” messaging—captured
perfectly by Kobori’s soothing pastel and goldenrod packaging—to resonate
with retailers. Within a year, about 30 local boutiques and small grocers were
carrying the $29 Original Golde Tonic. Soon, Goop and Sephora were calling.
Now, Golde’s tonic blends and superfood face masks are sold by more
than 100 stores nationwide, including Anthropologie and Madewell.
Direct-to-consumer sales grew 300 percent in May, after the launch of
a brand-ambassador program, and revenue has tripled since last year.
Wo;ord is eager for broader mass-market distribution—but is torn about
whether to take outside funding to speed up the company’s growth.
Luckily, Minko; had a lot to say on the topic—and others.