Check out our full interview with Doug Noll that was recently featured on Medium!

As a part of our series about Women Founders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Sloan and Enwei Li — Heali.

HEALI is a wellness company inspiring a movement to prevent, heal, and rehabilitate with nature’s most powerful ingredients infused directly into our products.

HEALI was founded by Heather Sloan and Enwei Li — accredited healthcare entrepreneurs who believed in bringing a product to market that married function + style.

HEALI’s innovative products address sports, beauty, skincare, and aging.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Heather Sloan and Enwei Li: We are health care practitioners, working moms and friends who share common interests in health, wellness, fitness and active living. As friends for over 15 years, we have shared patient success stories, innovative healing treatments and health and wellness must-haves. We both have a love for fashion so we often discuss various ways we feel we can improve our health while maintaining a sense of style… function with fashion just seems to make sense.

It was out of these long discussions that HEALI Tape came about! HEALI Tape is our first product and was created out of necessity. Minor injuries were preventing us, our friends and our clients from doing what we love. Shortly after Heather’s ski injury, she found herself needing a solution for both stability for her knee and pain relief for her muscles. Other sports tapes are excellent for stability but are unable to stay sticky (and remain on the body) with the use of any pain creams. Similarly, Li was becoming frustrated speaking to competitive dancers and basketball players who wanted both injury prevention and the ability to return to sport quicker, but could not find an easy to use solution.

HEALI is the first tape to contain both Menthol and Magnesium, and therefore derive the benefits of two natural products. Menthol and Magnesium are tested and proven natural healing ingredients that have been well known by health practitioners for years. Menthol provides a cooling sensation that can help with pain relief. Magnesium helps with relaxation, muscle healing and recovery, energy production, decreasing lactic acid, cramps, spasms and so much more. Together, the combination of having Menthol and Magnesium in one product helps both ingredients penetrate the skin better.

Anyone active knows just how easy it can be to pull, tweak, strain or sprain.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Heather: Li and I had the incredible opportunity to be invited to pitch HEALI to a celebrity athlete to join the company…in person. The meeting story was right out of a movie and was filled with all the excitement you would imagine right down to being invited to the celebrity’s home to present HEALI at 2:30 am in the morning to a crowd of people. Want to know who it was?? You will have to follow @healimedical to find out more…soon to be revealed.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Li: The funniest stories that come to mind involve Heather and I trying to navigate our way through our earliest trade shows. We were such rookies compared to the big brands — manually carrying everything (just the two of us!) like large tables, banners, and products. We set up our own tiny booth ourselves just down the hall from huge companies with displays that took days to build like Nike, New Balance and others. People definitely smiled compassionately at us as we carried a table on our heads for 2km into the showroom. We laughed at ourselves a lot, thinking that we were starting at the bottom of a long road.

Three years into this journey we already have a system in place and now have a presence at these shows — even if it is small, we are growing and succeeding. Lessons learned…that’s easy…put in the hard work and a “can do” mentality! No job is beneath a Founder and the hard work does pay off.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Heather: Our thank you list is LONG. We have been beyond fortunate to have met so many great people on our journey thus far. Founders, mentors, helpers, lenders, and connectors, you name it! Many have turned into friends along the way. It would be hard to choose just one but I think overall we have felt the most grateful for our Female Founders community. There are a group of women entrepreneurs worldwide trying to help each other succeed and the energy and pay it forward mentality is unparalleled.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Li: In my opinion, I would say most women want to make sure that they can still balance their children and family life with Founder life. And in Founder life, there is no off switch when the day is done. This is not an easy task and if you are going to go all in and believe in yourself, you have to become comfortable with the juggle. Some days you have no choice but to miss important life/family events but the reward of being a role model for your children and creating something incredible for yourself definitely outweighs the small sacrifices.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Heather: Having access to funding and some financial security plays a huge role in the risk / reward scenario. There are banks that are looking to help Women founders but more programs, grants and opportunities to get going would make a huge difference. We highly suggest joining women business organizations. especially early on, to utilize all resources and connections at hand.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Li: There is actually research that shows that women perform better in their approach to learning: Being able to move quickly and adapt is a huge asset and reason that women can succeed as founders. Having skill sets like attentiveness, task persistence, willingness to learn, flexibility and — let’s not forget — organization and an incredible ability to multi-task are some key traits that differentiate women and are tools for success. Who could argue with Beyonce anyways …”Who runs the world …Girls!”

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Heather: A common myth (that I admit I initially believed) about being a founder is that you are and will be in control more of the time than you might have been working for someone else. While your time schedule and demands are no longer imposed on you, you also become linked to your company in a different way. There is no off button when you are on vacation or deadlines are approaching and there is no one else who you trust more than yourselves with important tasks.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Li: Being a founder should be for anyone who has a vision that won’t go away and won’t relent. The fire inside is usually what starts the mission — The why. This purpose is also what helps carry it forward when the going gets tough. There are a lot of incredible amazing “on top of the world” moments, but not everyday can be rosy. You need determination, resilience, perseverance and this inner desire to push through the noise.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1 . Heather: Objects in the mirror are further than they appear. Everything takes time. Growing a brand, selling to customers, processing paperwork, getting approvals, finding the right hires, asking for money, receiving money. Not only is patience needed but a long lead time with endless resilience and efforts and perseverance to get each job done. Start everything way before your desired goal time.

2 . Li: Open Eyes, True Hearts, …. Can’t lose. At HEALI we have a few rules we live by. We don’t work with people that don’t fit or feel right. The whole experience of being a founder and being able to grow and run a business is such an amazing experience and we want to share it with people and make sure we all enjoy the process along the way. Finding people who match your vision, your energy and your ethics means that you can create a team that helps to bring each other up when the going gets tough and who gets to celebrate together when the wins roll in. We have passed up some opportunities that looked like great deals on paper so we could stay aligned to this mantra and it has continued to protect us and serve us well. Listen to your gut — ALWAYS!

3 . Heather: Get Comfortable with the UNComfortable. As founders you are constantly being pushed outside your comfort zone — the second one level gets reached, the bar just moves higher. For us HEALI Girls, some adaptation came easier to us, like developing thicker skin to people who said they weren’t interested in our product or vision. The toughest adaptation for us is being the faces of the brand. We excel with our knowledge about health and wellness and our ability to create high quality amazing products to help people…but we have learned along the way that people want to connect with US- the founders. We are not natural on screen people (if you have seen us on social @healimedical you just might agree) but we are constantly trying different ways to connect with our audience and laughing at ourselves along the way.

4 . Li: CASH IS QUEEN. You are running a business so of course you need money. Understand your costs right from the start (For your product, your processes, your storage, shipping, ad spend etc..)and if you need, find someone fractional who can help you with this on a part time basis. Run a tight ship, pay yourself as minimally as you can, reevaluate and redefine your processes …constantly….. and be scrappy!!! It is always better to be sold out on your products and be in demand than to be overloaded with inventory that won’t sell.

5 . Heather: MENTORS are KEY . We most definitely sped up our success and have saved ourselves so much heartache by aligning with incredible mentors. People who have walked in your shoes and are willing to impart their wisdom, their time and their help. Some have been mentors that have stuck with us throughout our journey and some have come in and out and we have been able to take whatever knowledge from each situation and build upon it. You can never know it all. We have been super fortunate to pull mentors together with different skill sets — business founders, Professionals, CPG experts or industry experts like NBA guru Bill Burgos who was previous head strength and conditioning coach to Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Best tips: Be open minded and ask for help, guidance and advice wherever you can — it will go a very long way.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place? We love to give back — whether we are contributing our knowledge to help someone who is just starting out or connecting people who might be a good fit, we try our best to always help out (before being asked). We also are big believers in donating both within HEALI and our personal lives. We are beyond fortunate to be in the position we are and want to continually support those less fortunate in any way possible. HEALI is a big believer in promoting wellness and well-being both physical and mental and each year we donate back to causes close to our hearts that align with our values ( IWILL, CAMECO to name a couple).

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Anything and Everything to bring about HEALTH and HAPPINESS. If we were able to influence a trend, a super cool initiative would be based off the old RECIPE EXCHANGE…Send one Recipe and Get 5 in return but with a wellness twist,.we could call it the..WELLNESS MAIL CHALLENGE. Send one cool Health related product under $25.00 and get 5 in return. This idea would expose people to all sorts of different health and wellness products and would also be super fun. Imagine all the viral posts of what people got — you could even add in a fun part about how you unboxed them on Tik Tok in under 30 seconds. Bringing HEALTH to so many people and encouraging people to prioritize movement and wellness would be a game changer globally and nothing reaches people faster than a good old Tik Tok challenge.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

We truly would be over the moon to have lunch with a long list of Business Gurus, VC funders, Sports and Entertainment experts — we have so many incredible, revolutionary current and future products coming that can help everyone and it would be soo exciting to have input and wisdom from these types of leaders.

We sat down to make a list and a few key ones came to mind such as Jeff Bezos or Michael Jordan but ultimately, we are most inspired by Women who have helped pave the way for other Women and inspired females everywhere to follow their dreams It was a hard choice that we narrowed down to a TOP 4 list in no particular order. Any of which we would be incredibly grateful to share a coffee or a chat with and find out more about their story, inspiration and how they rose to the top. Business mogul Oprah Winfrey, Business Woman and Philanthropist Sarah Blakely, Athlete extraordinaire Serena Williams and of course Super Business Mastermind and possibly the most famous female currently in North America — Taylor Swift. If any of you ladies happen to feel like brunch and a chat with some down to earth female founders trying to make a difference in the world ….it will be our treat.

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