We chatted with Michelle Larivee, the Co-Founder and CEO of WTHN to learn how she’s building a brand focused around the transformative power of Traditional Chinese Medicine and holistic treatments like acupuncture, cupping and herbs and her strong vision to make them more accessible.
What’s the origin story and early days behind WTHN’s launch?
Due to a ski accident, I was left with chronic neck pain and very few healing options. I decided to turn to acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and was amazed at how quickly I felt immediate pain relief. I experienced many holistic benefits including better sleep, less stress, and a stronger immune system. A year in, TCM helped me through my fertility journey and I became pregnant with my son Sam. My life was changed through the healing power of acupuncture and herbs. I became an advocate for acupuncture and herbs, but realized there wasn’t an accessible or welcoming way for others to get started. This is what drew me to start WTHN in 2018.
My Co-Founder and celebrity acupuncturist Dr. Shari Auth and I created WTHN together to bring the deeply healing powers of Chinese medicine to a larger audience.
I’m constantly motivated by the transformative effects we’re able to provide for our clients – from getting pregnant, to pain relief, to helping with digestive disorders and everyday stress management. It’s been amazing to see the results our clients have experienced. In our first year of business we gave over 5k people their first ever acu-treatment, helped over 50 women get pregnant with acu-babies, helped our clients heal from chronic + acute pain pain, address mental health issues including stress/anxiety/depression, recover from surgery and more.
How have you leaned on your background to scale the brand?
Prior to founding WTHN, I spent 13 years working in finance and strategy with a focus on healthcare, first as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and later at IFC, the private equity arm of the World Bank and at Monitor Deloitte. I also did my MBA at Wharton. My background helped me identify the whitespace in the market where consumers were not being served with the effective, affordable and natural solutions they were seeking for pain, stress, digestive health and more. It also helped me raise money from top tier venture funds as well as wellness trailblazers and brandbuilders like Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice (founders of SoulCycle) and Gwyneth Paltrow (founder of Goop).
What health benefits should folks know about WTHN?
There are numerous benefits obtained through the transformative, science-backed treatments from TCM. As a TCM-based company, we focus on the root cause of an ailment and treat via our acupuncture services and herbal supplements that start from within. At WTHN, we offer 100% organic herbal blends that can help you address specific health needs and are herbalist-formulated with clinically-studied ingredients.
By making TCM more accessible, WTHN helps you find relief from health concerns surrounding everyday stress, digestion, immunity, and pain in an all natural, nontoxic way. For example, herbs + acupuncture can be used before Ambien, or facial cosmetic acupuncture before Botox, or acupuncture for pain management before turning to potentially addictive painkillers. WTHN is focused on being your all-natural solution that works to heal from the inside out.
How do you incorporate WTHN into your own routine?
The long-term impact of stress is very real, and while removing stress entirely isn’t possible, we can control how we take care of our minds and bodies so we’re better equipped to handle that stress. To help me cope, I’ve really relied on WTHN as my proactive first line of defense to take care of myself. My all-natural stress-relief and wellness routine consists of the following:
- DAILY Rose Quartz Eye Mask to wake your whole face, reduce puffiness and dark circles.
- NIGHTLY use of the Acupressure Mat Set (15 minutes before bed to decompress and doze off)
- WEEKLY in-studio acupuncture and cupping sessions
What factors have led to WTHN’s success so far?
We created WTHN because Traditional Chinese Medicine has had profound effects on both of our lives. We want more people to experience its long-term benefits so they too can find calm and healing from WTHN, and we lean into the customizable experience, because everyone’s body and needs are different. We’ve also focused on creating a very luxurious experience that engages all five senses and elements of hospitality to make our clients feel welcome.
As the first-of-a-kind modern service offering, we’re creating a new market for mind-body wellness. Being the first mover has really helped us gain awareness and traction. In addition, there are general market trends happening that have helped us, for example, COVID has created a renewed urgency of taking care of yourself preventatively in particular finding ways to strengthen immunity, reduce stress and manage chronic conditions that have very real long-term consequences if left unchecked.
In addition, as people are generally seeking more natural alternatives for painkillers, botox, fertility and more and TCM modalities are always natural and non-addictive.
During this past year, we’ve been able to pivot and keep going both as individuals and as a brand which has helped us. For example, while closed as a studio, we created new product offerings like ear seeds and the acupressure mat to offer healing at-home and meet our clients where they are currently. By continuing the shift toward all-natural solutions as a first line of defense, we hope to give people the tools they need.
What makes WTHN a great gift?
It is suitable for anyone at any stage of life! Whether it’s coming in for a treatment or maintaining health goals through a variety of at-home tools, WTHN is the one stop shop. WTHN offers tools that can help you address specific health needs from the inside out. Whether it be finding the right beauty tool, like our Face Cupping Kit, to boost glow, or using our Ear Seed Kit to treat stress, pain or digestion on the go - WTHN works within to ensure you feel and look your best.