Doing Good with Hilary Coles, Co-Founder of Telemedicine Brand, Hers
Have you heard of hers? Odds are, you’ve probably seen the ads pop up on Instagram or the internet. Maybe you heard a co-worker talking about this brilliant brand she found that offers birth control sans painstaking appointment-making and insurance-accepting (or un-accepting). You’ve definitely seen the branding in passing, did a double-take and thought, “ooo, that’s cute.” Hers (the female counterpart to the brand, hims), is a telemedicine platform where you give a rundown of your medical history online, and the company connects you with a qualified physician who helps to diagnose you like the respectable human being you are. No talking down to you, or trying to make you think you’re crazy. Hers helps to give you a prescription that is legit, in a private, easy manner.
We talked with Hilary Coles, Co-Founder and VP of Product of Hers, and she dove deep into the issues women face when it comes to the healthcare system. These are age-old issues that should have been eradicated decades ago, and Hers is the next step in female health that puts the power back into our hands, and bodies.
Not only did we get to chat with Hilary, but we also tested out Hers’ Complete Hair Kit, which includes shampoo, conditioner, biotin gummies, and minoxidil. First off, the conditioner was like butter (pronounced buttah, of course), and our hair was super happy and silky smooth after each use. The gummies were a healthy daily does of biotin disguised as a treat, so we popped these each morning without hesitation. We’re still putting the minoxidil to work on our baby-hair, peak patches–you know, the areas on each side of your forehead that get finer and finer as you age. So far, so good, although we don’t want our baby hairs to complete grow out (full disclosure).
While we keep at our Complete Hair Kit, read our full interview with Hilary below!
What does hers mean to you, on a personal and career level?
Growing up in Canada, I was fortunate to have access to universal healthcare. After moving to the US, I realized I took that for granted! I truly couldn't fathom the way healthcare worked here - it didn’t seem right, and I found it to be unnecessarily complicated and restrictive.
Hers means so much to me on both a personal and career level that it’s difficult to separate the two. As a fervent women’s rights advocate, I take great pride in building a brand that gives women who feel barred from the healthcare system - whether that be due to stigma, prohibitive pricing, insurance, or geographic location - access to qualified doctors and proper care. At Hers we know that every woman deserves to be in charge of her own health, which is why we make it possible for women to connect with our network of doctors to learn about their options. Being on the founding team at Hers has been so inspiring and thrilling because I know from patient feedback that the work we’re doing is truly solving unmet needs for women across the country who have been ignored by our current healthcare system time and time again.
Tell us about your experience with female empowerment growing up, no matter how big or small.
I was raised by a single mother who was, and continues to be, one of my greatest role models. She worked three jobs at once to provide for our family, but always managed to find time for her children. Nothing could stop her from being the best mother and woman she could be, and for that, I am forever grateful.
I’m the oldest of three, with two younger sisters who constantly looked to me for guidance and support when we were growing up. In a fully female household, women’s health was always present, and my mom encouraged us to be open and honest with our questions and concerns from a young age. I’m so grateful to have such strong female role models in my life, and it’s a big part of why I was so inspired to co-found Hers - a modern wellness company that offers women education and access to quality health options to help them make the most informed decisions when it comes to their well-being.
Photo courtesy of hers
Photo courtesy of hers
Before Hers, what was your perception of how our society viewed women’s health?
Historically, women have been de-prioritized in the healthcare system or suffered from biases that affect the level of care they receive, and still today our healthcare system routinely fails them. Studies show that women are often not taken seriously when self-reporting their pain, leading to improper care. It’s also truly crazy how many drugs made FOR women were only tested on men before gaining FDA approval and going to market.
In a society focused on beauty and superficial wellness trends, not enough people are thinking about how to better, and more conveniently, serve women for their everyday health needs. I seriously can’t tell you how many times I’ve received targeted ads from wellness brands offering crystals promising to help solve female issues! Women deserve the opportunity to learn about their bodies and consider real solutions for issues they might be facing without being told: “it’s just hormonal.” They also deserve the right to play a part in choosing which treatment is best for them, whether it be a type of birth control, doctor appointment time (without having to leave the office or pay for child care), or skincare regimen. Hers is here to help them do that.
What was the most important problem you wanted to help solve for women with Hers?
Women in America are too often left out of the healthcare system for reasons such as geographic location, race, weight, or individuals in their lives who believe they’re entitled to make healthcare decisions for them. At Hers, we believe women should be the ones in control. To ensure women have and can exercise this right, Hers is working to serve the 19 million women who live in contraception deserts, the woman whose doctor told her to “take a bath” to re-ignite her sex drive, and all other women who want full control over their own bodies. We’re putting women back in the driver's seat, a place where they always belonged.
Say we’re new to the products you provide, which one would you recommend we start with first, and why?
If you’re a woman struggling with skin conditions, hair loss, or if you’re having trouble getting access to contraception due to geographic location, insurance, or other factors, we invite you to create a profile with us and see if Hers’ products are right for you. If you’re interested in learning more about one of our prescription offerings, Hers will connect you with a doctor licensed in your state who can assess the best treatment for you. We’ve found that women often come to us for one product/issue, and expand into other categories from there.
Of course, every person is different, but a lot of women tell us that they love our dermatologist-backed, skincare treatments for aging, acne, and melasma! Our skincare formulas are non-irritating and packed with elegant, moisturizing emollients to keep your skin hydrated. As an added bonus, our products are paraben-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free (certified PETA and Leaping Bunny approved), and vegan!
Photo courtesy of hers
Photo courtesy of hers
Can you share some of the positive feedback you’ve gotten from female customers, and how that impacts future products within the brand?
The women we hear from at Hers want proper information, and something that actually works, something that has been approved by a doctor. At Hers we know that important information about women’s health shouldn't feel unattainable or require navigating a complicated, intimidating system. We believe that women deserve to be in control of their own health and wellness. Every product we develop and offer to our customers is rooted in our ultimate goal of making it easy and affordable for women to get information and high-quality care on their own terms.
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel the most empowered after I work out. I feel like I can take up space, ask for what I need, do anything. I didn’t always have a consistent workout schedule, but at my previous job, I helped launch a nonprofit series that took injured Canadian soldiers on expeditions to both help them recover and to pay it forward by raising money for other soldiers injured in combat. To go on these expeditions, I had to train to summit a 21,000-foot mountain in the Himalayas, which was a grueling and motivating experience. Ever since then, working out, empowerment and success have always been connected to me and ensuring that I exercise on a regular basis is a huge priority for me.