A lot of people might say they want to be Trinity Mouzon Wofford when they grow up. But the thing is, most of those same people are already older than the co-founder of Golde, who launched her superfood-based wellness brand five years ago at the age of 23. Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley, her family’s coop stocked alternative nut butters and fermented foods. She didn’t see health as an unattainable luxury relegated to a certain echelon, but instead saw it as a pantry staple.
When her mom started seeing a holistic health physician to treat an autoimmune disease, Wofford decided to pursue a pre-med degree at NYU, but when the cost of holistic care was no longer affordable for her mom, she began to re-consider how society—and the systems of care within it—had really been positioning the conversation around wellness. Modern wellness movements had a certain look—in branding and in founder—and seemed to value exclusivity. So, alongside her life partner Issey Kobori, Wofford launched Golde to reshape the antiquated and harmful narratives we often prescribe to wellness.
Since 2017, Golde has become a household name in the wellness space, touted by the likes of Gabrielle Union, Hannah Bronfman, and Sophia Amoruso—the latter two of whom have become angel investors in her company. From Coconut Collagen Boosts and mushroom superfood blends to face masks you could literally eat off of your face (if that’s your thing), Golde has something for everyone. Most recently, the team celebrated their fifth anniversary and kicked off Women’s History Month in collaboration with Diaspora Co. to launch a Super Greens duo.
From a partner duo to a team of nine, Golde has witnessed immense change—a large portion of which Wofford attributes to the rise of investment in Black-owned businesses that stemmed from reignited Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. “Pushing through is a muscle you build,” the Forbes 30 Under 30 member says of the intense moments lived since Golde’s initial conception. Below, Wofford reflects on everything from having a major platform to her vision for wellness.
Let’s start with this moment you’ve discussed, when you watched Golde’s platform spike tremendously.
Following the second wave of the Black Lives Matter movement and the social outpouring following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, we were right in the center of it all, which was a funny thing as a small superfood business. It's not necessarily where you expect to find yourself. There was a moment—if I take myself back to that first weekend of the eruptions of the protests—that I realized that I had to say something. I had never really spoken out about social movements before. The first thing that I put out was just an open letter from me saying that this isn't new; we all don't exactly know what to do, but I'm going to do what I can.
We decided to run a donation effort where Golde was donating 100% of our proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund through that weekend. There weren't really a lot of brands doing that just yet. That moment got us a lot of visibility very quickly. And then this initial Black Lives Matter message morphed into ‘support Black-owned brands.’ We ended up doing more sales on our website in the month of June 2020 than we did in the entire year of 2019. On one hand, I had people calling me up saying, ‘Holy shit, you guys are blowing up! This is amazing.’ On the other hand, I was a Black person processing this experience. It felt very heavy.
That’s an interesting juxtaposition. How did you all respond as a business?
We were fortunate as a business to be at the right size to weather that bump and maintain that shift in scale overall. I think that was an extremely challenging time for Black-owned businesses because they were, on one hand, being put on this pedestal and seeing multiples of the revenues they had seen previously; but on the other hand, so many of these small businesses were not prepared for that influx of visibility. And a lot of these businesses weren't able to maintain that level of scale after the enthusiasm waned. We basically had to completely shift the scale of our business virtually overnight and never stop sprinting. There was never an opportunity from 2020 onwards for us to say, ‘Oh yes this is going according to plan.’
A lot has happened in five years—several launches being just one aspect. When you look back, even just over these past two years, what have you learned?
The past two years for me have been the most thrilling challenge of my life: figuring out how to build the right team, how to build the right products, how to scale onto retail shelves. We've had to become really sharp, in a pretty brief period of time, with not too much capital going into the business. We were being bootstrapped, for over three years, and now have raised over a million dollars in capital. But throughout, the critical piece has been not losing sight of the foundational reason around why we started.
What do you think drew such well-known investors, like Bronfman and Amoruso, to you?
Anyone investing in an early stage business is backing the founders and a team that they believe in. I've been so fortunate to find the folks that are really willing to rally behind my vision of what wellness can look like. Often when we're talking about fundraising, I get asked how we’ve built such a diverse cap table. But that came very naturally to the process with us. We found that it was women and people of color who believed I was the person to steward this new brand in the wellness space. When you have a driving force, you can get in front of people that are on your wildest dreams list.
And what is your vision for wellness?
It ought to be for everyone. It needs to be more accessible, more inclusive, and it needs to feel good. We're all exhausted with the idea of self care or wellness as something that needs to be an indulgence or a chore. These feel-good practices should fit into our routines, boost what we're doing already, help us feel our best, and meet us exactly where we are. That's the vision that I try to push forward every day.
Whenever I thought of “wellness,” I pictured a bunch of rich white women in a room drinking green juice made by their vegan chef. How do you talk to folks who see this is space as intimidating or exclusive?
I can bring people in by solving those pain points. If wellness products are too expensive, make them not expensive—but don't make them cheap, make them high quality. Figure out how to hack your supply chain so that you can create high quality products that don't cost $75 a month. Most of our hero products are around $1 a day per serving.
Also, it’s how you talk about it. There's a mysticism that is applied to wellness, which is engineered to make it feel inaccessible. ‘It's not for you’ or ‘You have to be a certain type of person to engage with it,’ right? Instead, we peel those layers away. We say, ‘Have you been wanting to boost your collagen? We've got this great creamer powder that you can throw in your coffee or your tea.’ It's a much more approachable message. We're talking about boosting the routine that you already have, not trying to get someone to suddenly have 50 different powders that they can't even pronounce in their cabinets.
What does it feel like to have such a large platform, and as a founder, to be consumed by the masses?
I didn't want to be the face of Golde when we first started, so it's been an interesting adjustment to get to this point. At times, I’ve felt overexposed and had the sense that I wanted to hide away and not be consumed by the public. Now, I’ve arrived at a place where I can acknowledge what having a public persona has allowed me to do for my business and how it's allowed me to inspire other folks—especially other women of color—to get out there.
At the end of the day, it comes down to me setting boundaries and finding the balance of how much of myself I wish to share; and knowing that I don't have to put it all out there. Once you understand that, that's your power. You don't have to feel like you have to do anything. You just do what feels right. Since getting to that point, I've had a much better relationship with how my persona is digested online.
How do you see wellness, and more specifically Golde, having a voice in cultural conversations?
I think that what we do is inherently very personal. We help folks feel their best by boosting their own routines—so there is an inherent intimacy there. It gets you in front of your customer in a different way than if you were selling, say socks. You’re hearing from them and talking to them about how to help them feel good which creates that connection with the customer. Plus, there’s that bigger connection with just the broader community that is engaging with your content online. Especially today, there's a real responsibility on a brand to be thoughtful about the messages they're putting out into the world. Making sure we’re always being intentional about how we engage in certain dialogues and which ones we do engage with is definitely something that feels top of mind.
Do you have any go-to beauty products, or one beauty item you recommend everyone buy?
I'm not big on the crazy, multi-step skincare routine. I love to have just a few, natural products in rotation that really work. I'm such a big fan of LESSE skincare—I think their cleanser is truly unmatched. It really gives you a deep clean without stripping at all. And then, honestly, it's Golde's Clean Greens mask. We formulate it with 100% real superfoods, so it's very gentle but effective. I use it a few times a week to keep my skin glowing and free of blemishes.
For haircare, I've been loving this pre-wash from Shaz and Kiks. They're a new brand that's rooted in Ayurvedic tradition. I put that pre-wash on dry hair before getting in the shower and it makes my hair ridiculously soft. To actually wash my hair, I like to co-wash with either Giovanni Deeper Moisture or BrioGeo's Co-Wash.
When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you do, beauty-wise?
Drink a bunch of water—I swear by my Berkey water filter! Hydrating after sleep keeps me from feeling like I'm playing catch up throughout the day. 3 or 4 times a week, I'll do a quick 30 minute workout which helps to get the circulation going. It's not skincare, but I think hydration and movement are so key to any beauty routine. When you feel good, you look good.
What’s your bedtime beauty routine?
At night I keep it really simple! I don't usually wear makeup, so I'll just wash my face and apply a rich face oil or balm to sleep in. I like to alternate between several options—all of them are totally natural, from independent brands. I think the best skincare comes from the brands where the founder is still really close to it. Some of my top face oils are the ones from Supernal, Chidori-ya, and LESSE.
Who’s your beauty icon?
I don't necessarily look to others for beauty inspiration. I've found that lately I'm mostly just interested in looking and feeling like the truest form of me. That usually means a very simple look—just plump, hydrated skin, natural brows, maybe a swipe of lipstick.
What’s the best bit of beauty advice you’ve ever received?
I’d have to go with my late grandmother, Mia Mouzon, who spoke two great eternal truths: stay out of the sun, and leave your eyebrows alone.
Best beauty trick?
Finish your shower with an icy cold rinse. It's amazing for your hair and skin, and also for your circulation. It's pretty intense, but I swear it works!
Biggest skincare rule that you abide by?
Don't pick your skin! Any little blemish on my skin always leaves a dark spot behind if I agitate it, so I've worked really hard to be more careful about not pinching and squeezing. It's a good exercise in self-acceptance, too.
Favorite form of self-care?
Any time spent outdoors is the best self-care for me. I love, love, love to garden. I'm fortunate to be living back home in Upstate New York, where easy access to nature is everywhere. There's plenty to soak up in a city too, though—when I lived in Brooklyn, I would wander around and observe all of the lovely front gardens people had going. I would literally stop and smell the roses. That's a great daily practice for feeling good.