How Youtime, Endota and JSHealth are shaking up the wellness sector – Inside Retail

The wellness industry is booming and the pandemic only served to speed up its growth. Here, the leaders of three successful brands discuss how they thrive in their niche of the market. Steve Terry, founder of Youtime Inside Retail: How would you describe Youtime? Steve Terry: We see Youtime as a service. We like to consider ourselves your concierge in the wellbeing space. It’s quite hard to create immersive spaces online, particularly if you’re in retail, but we just want to create an enviro

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an environment where people want to come and be there. There’s plenty to explore and discover.

Of course, you can buy products, but it’s really through our storytelling and recommendations rather than us just trying to sell. We are very much a hybrid of content and e-commerce. We’ve always wanted to create a platform that’s really purposeful, really immersive and enjoyable for people to visit. 

IR: A lot of people are talking about wellness now, but there are also a lot of wellness brands out there. Why did you feel it was the right time to launch Youtime?

ST: I’ve been a hairdresser since I was 15 and we used to have big studios in Stockholm that had skin, hair and product. One of the big reasons we were always successful in that space was that we really wanted to give the individual an experience. And now Youtime is an extension of all of those things. 

My wife and I had a discussion about what we wanted to do next and how we could create a really nice business and do something that we really believed in that could impact people in a positive way. We wanted to create a business model that had a point of difference and multiple layers to it, rather than just selling stuff.

The cliche view of “wellness” has become so prescriptive. For us, we are focused on wellbeing. What makes you feel well? What lights that spark? We aim to speak to everyone’s tastes and preferences, not only the green juice-sipping yogis – though we love them too!

IR: Youtime follows the Swedish concept of ‘lagom’. Tell me about what that means to you.

ST: There’s no actual English word for it, but it means not too much and not too little. In essence, really, it means balance. When I actually first went to Sweden, I thought that word sucked. It was 1990, I was a young entrepreneur who wanted to do and be everything. But in Sweden, it’s just not in their culture. They really believe in balance, and everything is built around that. I mean, it’s the highest taxed country in the world but parental leave is incredible. Daycare is free. Dental is free, universities are free. 

This is where lagom comes into it. Sweden allows people to have more time with their families and for themselves, where there is time for reflection and wellbeing. 

They also believe in not having too much stuff. So you shouldn’t be extravagant and excessive with things. People talk about Swedish minimalism in terms of design, but it’s actually a full way of living.

IR: Youtime launched earlier this year. What insights have you gained in that time?

ST: It’s a new way of interacting with people, and people often wonder if we’re a publisher or a retailer. What is this hybrid animal? That’s the challenge. With anything new, you have to be patient and just create a space where people actually want to come. Our organic and direct traffic is really, really strong. People find us, they discover us and they go, ‘Oh, I want to go back there.’ We’ve realised that we have a very strong database already. A lot of people are signing up to our newsletter and want to hear more. I think that’s based on what we’re putting out there. And we’ve also noticed that brands are really attracted to us. 

We’ve found that it’s actually easy for us to get really great staff, because they like what we’re doing. We’ve had a lot of support around what we’re doing and people like our messaging.

The funnel of bringing people into the site, getting them to interact with our content, and then guiding them through to the transactional part of the site is working very well. In the early days, we did an article about the magic behind tongue cleaning and for a long time, our number one selling product was a $23 tongue cleaner. We sold out and we continue to sell out of it, because people are just coming in and engaging.

It’s a wider sales funnel, and it’s deeper, so you need to be patient because it takes time to build trust with Google and it takes time to build trust with the consumer. I read somewhere that, on average, it takes a customer 12 visits to a site before they actually decide that they trust it enough to translate. 

IR: What plans do you have for Youtime going forward?

ST: When we approached this, we always had the vision of being the world leaders in wellbeing. If you look at our intellectual property, we’ve ensured that if we succeed, we’ll be able to do that.

I think the trick with Youtime has always been that it can be anything. It can be so broad that the challenge for us has been to define where we should start. Our plan really is just to get that right and keep refining our content around our learnings, what is working, what is not. That’s one of the pleasures and the pains of [launching]. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to do other things really well. 

We’re going to keep on expanding our offering within our brand portfolio and refining that. We will start to do things like experiences. We actually have a lot of interest from companies outside of retail that see us offering travel experiences, visiting wellbeing spas and things like that. 

We’d love to start to do more physical events. Then we also have plans to do physical destinations. I really miss the physical interaction with people. Our initial plans were to do physical and digital, but then Covid-19 hit. Now the physical space is becoming more attractive again and I think it’s really important to have a physical presence, a tactile thing that you can feel and touch and smell, and where you can meet people and talk.

Source: Supplied

Melanie Gleeson, founder and CEO of Endota

Inside Retail: How would you describe the evolution of the wellness space, particularly in the last couple of years?

Melanie Gleeson: It’s no secret that the wellness industry is booming, especially post-pandemic, and this is dramatically shaping the industry and the direction wellness providers are moving. We’ve noticed the call for organic and clean beauty has skyrocketed, as people are more conscious about the ingredients going onto their skin and into their body, which has always been an integral part of the Endota offering.

People are looking for care and connection. They look to trusted, loved brands such as Endota when they think of wellbeing.

IR: How has consumer behaviour changed in the last few years?

MG: Post-pandemic, the biggest change we’ve witnessed is the demand for our service. Covid-19 was so hard on people in terms of the uncertainty and isolation it brought for so many, and we’ve noticed that people are craving human connection like never before. 

Our mind, body and spirit are linked and are integral to our overall health and wellbeing. Services such as massages make people feel cared for and nurtured. Not many people understood the concept of a day spa when we first opened and even fewer recognised the importance of wellbeing. Now, relaxation and mindfulness have become more important in people’s lives, which has made having a massage or treatment no longer a luxury but a healthy habit that has allowed our spas to become a haven for emotional replenishment.

IR: What are some of the greatest challenges and opportunities for brands in the wellness space?

MG: The wellness industry is constantly undergoing immense change, with new opportunities presenting themselves frequently. It can be challenging to know which direction to move in when evolution is so frequent and the industry is so layered. It’s important for business owners to trust their intuition and remain steadfast in declining opportunities that don’t align with their business objectives or brand values. I think that’s been a large part of Endota’s success – remaining true to our roots and ethos since our inception. 

IR: What have been some of the most interesting lessons you’ve learnt as a spa and wellness operator since the pandemic hit?

MG: The pandemic prompted demand for many areas of the service industry to soar, whether this was in nursing and aged-care or childcare. We noticed in our spas that once restrictions allowed it, we were busier than ever, as people’s need for connection and physical touch was higher than ever after such an isolating period. As a society, we need to place a higher level of recognition on the service industry. Those employed in these areas are often carrying out emotional roles that go well beyond their job description.

As a business, we have learned from the pandemic the pivotal need for the flexibility and agility to weather disruptions. When our spas were closed, we launched Endota Retreat so our community could remain connected and practise self-care in a way that may not have been traditional to them. It’s so important to listen deeply to the customer and the current landscape and respond with care and empathy to their needs.

IR: Tell me about the online retreat. Why did you launch it and what does it involve?

MG: As a brand, we have always been about practising wellness holistically. With this in mind, we launched Endota Retreat during the pandemic in 2020, providing virtual access to a range of nutritious recipes, guided self-development wellness courses, motivational daily affirmations and wellness activities such as Kundalini, Yin and Vinyasa yoga, pilates, meditation, sound healing, personal training, and cacao ceremonies. Endota Retreat is unique in its offering, as members get online access but also in-spa treatments and product bonuses delivered to their door. It was important to us to build something that was unique in the market in the way that it offered access to holistic wellness that is centred around so much more than fitness support.

When the pandemic took us by surprise and removed our ability to go somewhere like a spa to relax and unwind, it was important to us to extend this offering to enable virtual access, for members to be transported to a place of calm from the comfort of their own home. The platform is all about supporting people on their journey to better wellbeing, and we’re excited to continue building upon Retreat, instilling joy in our community and building a holistic sense of wellness. Filmed at the beautiful Beach House in Byron Bay, we hope to extend our Retreat offering to evolve into physical retreats, offering our community the opportunity to come on holidays with us and experience all Retreat has to offer in person.

IR: If you could change anything about the wellness industry, what would it be?

MG: For it to be seen as a necessity and not a luxury. It is so important for wellness to be integrated into our lives and not seen as an ‘add on’ to our traditional routines. Wellness is all about living better, healthier and happier and incorporating tools holistically to do so. This not only prevents sickness and physical ailments, but also works to reduce depression. I would love to see Australia adopt a more forward-thinking approach to wellbeing, with medical practitioners working more closely with wellness providers like naturopaths or those that provide alternative therapies, to truly encourage Australians to feel and be their best, rather than working to benchmarks that are far from optimal. I would also like to see more clinical trials to understand the benefits of massage and meditation, as I feel like these practices are so often disregarded when we work to implement steps to improve our wellbeing.

IR: What are some of your plans for the Endota business in the next year or so?

MG: In June this year, we expanded into New Zealand with the acquisition of spa network, Forme Spa. We’ve been increasing our focus on international expansion for quite some time now to deepen our commitment to helping women feel well on a broader scale, and New Zealand was a good place to start, given its proximity to Australia and similarities in the market. Replicating our success in Australia in international markets remains a key part of our strategy, and this was an important first step in that journey. We’re also looking to deepen our relationship with our customers through product development centred around responding to needs that perhaps aren’t traditionally given enough air time, like through our extension of our sexual health range with products like our intimate moisturising gel, intimate moisturising wash, and breast oil, which aim to increase awareness and education on female intimate care.

(Source: Supplied)

Jessica Sepel, founder and director of JSHealth

Inside Retail: Tell me the story behind how you launched JSHealth and what inspired you.

Jessica Sepel: I started a very candid and casual blog during my years studying to be a nutritionist. I was also writing very honestly about my struggle with fad dieting and my quest to find balance with food and my body.

Studying health and nutrition was the realisation for me. When you learn about the power of nutrients and minerals, and how essential they are for healthy functioning of the body, you can’t help but have a massive love and respect for wholefoods and how important they are.

As a fad dieter, I really wasn’t treating my body very well, and in turn missed out on those key nutrients that help you thrive and feel your best. I was living off diets, which are usually low in nutrients and high in artificial substances. The moment I started making changes, that feeling of real health and mental freedom was so incredible that it propelled me forwards on the path. I felt like I could do anything and everything.

I truly believe a healthy, balanced life allows us to be the best version of ourselves.

I blogged about this journey, and soon afterward I got my first book deal – which gave me a brilliant platform.

Working with clients, I saw the way a good supplements formulation could help my people. Although, I always found myself wanting to tweak the formulations to have higher doses or better forms of the ingredients for a more therapeutic effect. This inspired me to create my own line of supplement formulas, and so JSHealth Vitamins was born.

This mission, passion and care for people’s health has allowed us to create formulations grounded in research that can truly help our customers feel better and address their specific issues, whether that be bloating, skin health, energy levels, sleep or stress.

IR: Traditionally, vitamins and supplements weren’t very on-trend. Why do you think that was?

JS: I actually love the traditional aspect of vitamins and supplements, rather than the trends. I am all about hero-ing the nutrients and minerals to show the way they can support the body.

The only thing I believe was missing from our industry was showing off the ‘solution-focused’ aspect of a formulation. People traditionally understand the common everyday supplements to take – such as vitamin C, vitamin D or fish oil – but do not always understand how these nutrients may be helping them or how various ingredients can be placed into one formula to support a specific health concern.

This is why JSHealth Vitamins allows for clarity and functional supplementation by creating targeted formulas. You’ll find the indications and purpose clearly reflected in the names of our Signature Range; for example, Hair + Energy, Skin + Digestion, Detox + Debloat, Hormone + PMS Support and more. It’s a game changer for keeping customers from being overwhelmed when selecting supplement formulas.

IR: You started slowly entering the Asian market last year. How is that tracking, and what are your plans for local and international expansion?

JS: Slowly, slowly. We are very focused on the growth and expansion of US and UK markets, which have grown faster than we expected. Incredibly grateful to be able to reach more customers who will love our products, because they feel the benefits, and grow our global community.

IR: What are your plans for JSHealth Vitamins this year?

JS: In September, we launched JSHealth Vitamins Hair, which will provide our community with a whole new way to harness the power of vitamins to support their hair health. It’s a wonderful complementary offering to our best-selling ingestible hair care supplements.

Otherwise, we are just continuing on the hustle, because the journey really is the best part. We have hit all the milestones but I am realising more than ever that the journey itself is much more satisfying. As a customer-first company, the goal for us is to make JSHealth Vitamins the most trusted wellness brand in the world and to help as many people thrive as we possibly can. That was the goal from day one, and that’s how it remains.

This story first appeared in the November 2022 issue of Inside Retail Magazine.


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