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Helina FanHelina Fan, Founder and CEO of Redmint, began her career with a solid foundation in finance and accounting before transitioning into the world of entrepreneurship. An immigrant from China, she first experienced the entrepreneurial environment through her husband’s fast-growing real estate business. With a passion for holistic and natural health remedies, Helina pursued a doctorate in Chinese medicine, subsequently founding Redmint, a unique holistic wellness center in San Francisco. She bravely opened Redmint’s doors at the onset of the pandemic, focusing on traditional Chinese medicine as a wellness solution.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [1:45] Helina Fan shares her cultural perspective on career stability growing up in China
  • [2:26] Helina’s unexpected entry into entrepreneurship
  • [3:11] Why Helina’s finance expertise was critical during her husband’s company growth
  • [3:43] How the 2008 financial crisis served as a growth catalyst for the real estate business
  • [5:51] Helina’s health challenges and turn toward holistic remedies
  • [7:39] The potential of traditional Chinese medicine beyond hospital treatments
  • [8:21] The drive and sacrifice behind pursuing a doctorate while starting a business
  • [10:38] Helina talks about opening Redmint amidst the global upheaval of the pandemic
  • [11:41] Adapting Redmint’s business model due to pandemic-induced constraints on products

In this episode…

How can personal health challenges inspire a revolutionary approach to self-care? What does it take to transform a passion for holistic wellness into a thriving business?

According to Helina Fan, a passionate advocate for holistic health, the key lies in creating accessible and appealing wellness solutions. She highlights the importance of blending traditional Chinese medicine with modern spa services to make holistic health more inviting. This innovative approach led her to introduce herbal lattes, a concept designed to make herbal medicine more palatable and approachable, resembling the experience of a coffee bar. Despite launching Redmint amidst the pandemic, Helina’s commitment to quality and her vision for holistic health resonated with many, resulting in rapid business growth and a loyal customer base.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, host John Corcoran sits down with Helina Fan, Founder and CEO of Redmint, to discuss her mission to redefine self-care. They talk about her journey from corporate finance to launching Redmint, overcoming the business challenges brought on by the pandemic, and her ambitious plans for global expansion.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Quotable Moments:

  • “Being in the Big Four, you’re already working like 15-hour days, but jumping into entrepreneurship is even more work.”
  • “Everyone around me said it’s a crazy idea to open a holistic wellness center, but I went ahead based on my feeling there is a need.”
  • “Our herbal lattes use the concept of coffee making to create drinks that are not only delicious but offer medicinal benefits.”
  • “From zero members to over 500 members in just a couple of years, it shows our service is fulfilling a demand.”
  • “Holistic wellness centers should be in every major metropolitan city of the world because every high achiever needs it.”

Action Steps:

  1. Explore Traditional Wellness Approaches: Helina found healing through traditional Chinese medicine; similarly, individuals can improve wellness by investigating time-tested health practices.
  2. Embrace Entrepreneurial Opportunities: Jumping into entrepreneurship like Helina can be a means to pursue passions and address market gaps, ultimately benefiting personal growth.
  3. Focus on Holistic Solutions: Just as Redmint integrates holistic remedies and modern aesthetics, aiming for complete wellness solutions can be more effective than quick fixes.
  4. Seek Education for Credibility: Helina enhanced her credibility by pursuing a doctorate, showing the value of education in grounding one’s business in expertise.
  5. Build a Supportive Network: Helina’s involvement in EO illustrates the importance of engaging with peer networks for guidance and support in uncertain business landscapes.

Sponsor for this episode…

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran 0:13

Alright, John Corcoran here I am the co host of the show and every week we feature top entrepreneurs and business leaders sharing their stories. We’ve had all kinds of great entrepreneurial leaders, business leaders throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. And of course, this episode is brought to you by EO San Francisco. EO San Francisco is the local San Francisco chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization, which is a global peer to peer network of more than 18,000 influential business owners across about 200 chapters in 60 plus different countries. And if you’re the founder, co founder owner or controlling shareholder of a company that generates over seven figures a year in revenues, and you want to connect with other like minded successful entrepreneurs, then eo is for you and you can learn more about what we do at also brought to you by my company, Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients referrals, and strategic partnerships with done via podcast and content marketing and learn more about what we do at All right, today’s guest is Helina Fan. She’s the founder and CEO of Redmint, which is a holistic wellness center in San Francisco. We’re gonna learn all about how she founded that company, Helina. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. And you grew up in China. So you were not really exposed to the entrepreneurial culture over there. You’ve said that growing up, you know, you thought about getting a good, stable, secure job for life or working for the government or something like that. Tell us a little about what that was like growing up in that culture.

Helina Fan 1:45

Yeah. So I grew up in China, I’m an immigrant. And in the culture, you’re not, you’re not trained to be authentic. And entrepreneurs, you’re trained to have a really high high paying job and a very stable job is like the golden. We call it the golden ball. So it’s just like a secure, stable employment. That’s the goal.

John Corcoran 2:13

That’s the goal not to start a company and create something disruptive or new or different or anything like that. And you weren’t exposed to that until you came to the United States. And your husband started a real estate company.

Helina Fan 2:26

Yeah, being trained as, like , just taking a corporate path. And being an employee, I kind of landed my entrepreneurship by joining my husband’s business, very passive investments as a real estate company in San Francisco. Back in 2009, his company gone through such a expanded like such a fast growth, then I guess he was too desperate then asked for my help on the fight on building a financial system.

John Corcoran 3:00

Well, and you’d studied finance and accounting and been a CPA working in the big four. So relevant, helpful background.

Helina Fan 3:11

Yeah, he needed someone to build a financial system, and he can hire anyone fast enough. Because we go in like 50 to 100 employees every month. So yeah, so he just likes okay, well, I can handle it. Can you do it? And I’m like, okay.

John Corcoran 3:29

So crazy pace of growth.

Helina Fan 3:31

Yeah, that’s kind of landed that way.

John Corcoran 3:34

And you actually he actually hired you, or asked you to join him in 2008, around the time that Lehman Brothers was collapsing.

Helina Fan 3:43

Yeah, that’s how our, how our family, how his real estate company, kind of experience rapid growth is when the banks are selling everything. 20 or 30 cents on the dollar. We were buying them. So we were able to acquire over 1000 units every few months. And we grow from a very small mom and pop real estate company to one of the biggest San Francisco real estate owner operators within a year.

John Corcoran 4:25

Wow. Wow. What was that shift like for you going from working at a big four firm, stable job to joining a fast growing entrepreneurial organization ? Did you have to have a mindset shift for you to kind of embrace that new environment?

Helina Fan 4:47

Yeah, I mean, being in the pig being in the pig for the public accounting for you already worked like 15 hour days, and you thought that was a lot of work but then you jump into your jump into an Entrepreneurship that’s even worse. And I didn’t expect that I wouldn’t, I didn’t think that I could work anymore. A day in my life, switching from pitfour to any other company, I was working 1213 hour days and Big Four and helping with a lot of IPOs at the time. But jumping into helping my husband found his business, it’s you talking about 18, 17, though you sleep a couple hours.

John Corcoran 5:29

Yeah. Now, let’s get into talking about what inspired Redmint, which is a holistic wellness center, you actually had had a couple of kids or three kids. And notice your body going through some major changes, you had some health issues, and that started to inspire you to look into more holistic remedies. Is that right?

Helina Fan 5:51

Yeah. So I was going through helping my husband build a business, I was also getting pregnant, and having kids at the same time my first child was born in 2009. So it’s exactly at the same time as when everything is super busy. So an icon is something minor, like headaches, sleep stress. So as I going through it, I, I realized that cause solution to me is to kind of load up a lot of jobs and load up this low up that and, and I was like everybody is going to go through this every every man or woman, they’re going to have an intense work life, intense career, and having a family in their 30s. So if everybody is gonna go right onto drugs, the moment they have a little bit, they have stress in their life, and they’re going to get stuck on it forever. So I tried to look for a holistic, natural method to feel better. But my journey was pretty painful. I bounced around for two years, before I found something. So I had thought, well, everyone is going to need it, because they’re going to have high stress. And they’re going to have some minor issues and it just rebalance in the body. But there’s not an easily accessible platform for them. So I’m going to start a weapon to make it easy for everyone to find a holistic, natural, medicinal solution.

John Corcoran 7:30

Even though you’d grown up in China, you hadn’t really been exposed to traditional Chinese medicine, which is what you eventually found, correct?

Helina Fan 7:39

Yeah, TCM is not really looked at as a wellness solution, even in China it is looked at as a hospital intensive solution. But it is a grateful wellness self care path. So I mean, so I might Redmond my business, it’s all about TCM as a wellness self care solution and everyone’s life.

John Corcoran 8:03

And you didn’t just do a little Googling, it didn’t just do a little online research, you ended up with three kids going back and getting your doctorate and Chinese medicine. I can’t imagine while you’re starting this business, I can’t imagine how busy you were for a period of time.

Helina Fan 8:21

Yeah, it was a crazy time. I think we just did it because you needed to get it done. I was starting the business and I also need to gain more knowledge in TCM, what we call us and for traditional Chinese medicine. I feel like I need to gain knowledge to really craft a really good service and product offering that people would like so I went back to school and to get a doctor’s degree. And at the same time you can really delay your time getting kids so I just keep going and business keeps going.

John Corcoran 8:58

Yeah, I’m curious. This is a lot of change for you from the more traditional job stable job like you’ve been raised to your husband’s more entrepreneurial, fast growing company to going and getting your doctorate in Chinese medicine where their family members or friends who are like what’s going on Helina they feel you know what what are you doing here? Do people question what you were doing?

Helina Fan 9:22

Everyone was like are you sure this is what you want to do? It seems like a lot of work and it’s pretty soon much work and a lot of risk. But for me I just see a passion, I see a need and I went for it. No one No one around me said it is a good idea to do this. Yeah.

John Corcoran 9:44

Did you see yourself at this point when you when you’re getting your doctorate? was the goal to start a business at the same time or was where you just feel you kind of like falling your interest.

Helina Fan 9:56

I just feel like to build a business you need a little bit more credibility and a little bit of knowledge to really understand what you are offering. So that’s a kind of land into, then I should just go back to school, there’s no better way to really understand the medicine. And so you could really crap the offering to people.

John Corcoran 10:16

Okay. And now you, you decide to launch Redmint and you launched it at the most opportune time, of course, which was March of 2020. So, March 2020, right, as the global pandemic is hitting, you’re launching redmont. Whoa, what was that? Like? What’s going through your mind? What’s going through your mind?

Helina Fan 10:38

Well, I mean, we didn’t expect it, we delayed our launch to, like, September, October, thinking that this would go like the global pandemic would go away in a few months, but it’s not going away. And at the same time, my leaves aside, I, my teams are higher, my practitioners are on board, we can’t really keep waiting. And we didn’t really know when this world was going to be open. But holistic medicine and acupuncture and physical therapy was considered the central business. So they were allowed to open in, I think, the fourth of 2020. So we went ahead and opened just for herbal medicine, acupuncture and physical therapy, that’s how it started.

John Corcoran 11:25

And you actually so that the company or the vision for the business was that you would have both services and also products. And yet you had to hold off on actually doing some of the products because production was shut down because of COVID. Correct?

Helina Fan 11:41

Yeah, there’s the maps. I’m not taking any new orders or new clients, and we were new. So we launched as a purely service business, and then and just acupuncture and physical therapy and herbal medicine. Beverages company. So and then and then we’ll wait for we we should I think we shut down three times in the six, the first six months after Oprah. Because San Francisco there’s like different peaks and they shut down differently.

John Corcoran 12:13

So you’re experiencing this like rapid whiplash with your business.

Helina Fan 12:17

Yeah, but surprisingly, at five, six months, we were doing so well that our store was jam-packed full with lots of clients and we were able to open a second store the following year.

John Corcorann 12:32

And that’s amazing. And and I want to underscore because I’ve been into your facility is how much effort you put into this facility. You didn’t just open some small little facility that is beautiful. You spent, I’m sure a pretty penny, building this thing out. What was that decision like for you? You know, you didn’t have assets, like you didn’t just create a small little facility. It’s a big facility with just beautiful interior design and all that kind of stuff. Talk a little bit about that decision.

Helina Fan 13:06

Yeah. So my idea was to create some place that people would like to go to, like a mainstream spa design service, because TCM or holistic healing is doing new things to people. So to attract people to a facility that is more accessible, we just wanted to have a really calming design and people would enjoy just walking in for some of the mainstream services. We also definitely offer massage and facials that are what we call a mainstream service and pair with holistic health services.

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