Finding Beauty Truly Comes from Within and is a Journey that Has Led Holly Harding to Success
Meet Holly Harding, owner of O’o Hawaii, whose passion for achieving beauty both inside and out has named her as one of Hawaii’s 50 Fast Growing Companies 3 years in a row. Her personal journey towards transformation both in mind and body led her to successfully launch a skincare line that integrates holistic measures with superfood level ingredients to achieve that special “glow” so many of us women long for. Already present in countries outside of the United States, Harding’s goal is to become an international brand by focusing on personal growth, perseverance, being true to herself and allowing her passion to lead her to continued success.
O’o Hawaii was created by Holly Harding, AADP, INHC. Holly has studied over 100 dietary theories with the country’s top experts in holistic health and nutrition. A highly sought out holistic health and nutrition coach and food for beauty expert, she is well known for her mind/body transformation program, The H Lyfe Method®.
Based on her belief that beauty starts from within with a diet of nutrient rich, unprocessed and unrefined foods from nature, Holly created O’o Hawaii as a way to accomplish beautiful, glowing, ageless skin through a combination of diet, supplementation and highly functional skincare. Like the beautiful, final call of the Hawai?i ???? bird, O’o Hawaii’s ingredients signify beauty not only for what they accomplish but how, where and why they are grown. Our ingredients include plant based clinical level actives along with healing rose quartz and sapphire crystals that work to preserve, protect and improve the skin. We also ensure that the natural resources our ingredients come from are preserved and protected. O’o Hawaii uses only the most beautiful, high functioning superfood level ingredients from nature that are from non-GMO sources and when available, are grown organically in Hawaii. Filler ingredients with virtually no benefit are never used. We do not test on animals nor do we use or support sources that do. Our signature skincare formulas and beauty supplement are all vegetarian and we encourage and actively promote ethical treatment of animals, a predominantly plant-based lifestyle and discourage factory farming.
Mother Nature gives us everything we need and when we use her resources with care and dignity, her beauty shines through us like the glow of the sun. There is simply no need for chemicals in highly effective skincare.
2. What/Who inspired you to start your company?
At the age of 24, I moved to Hawaii and eventually started Bubble Shack Hawaii, a natural bath, body and candle company. At around age 30 and about five years of pedal to the metal building Bubble Shack, I caught a reflection of myself in a restaurant window, thinking it was someone else. After quickly realizing the person I was seeing was indeed myself, I had a 10 second meltdown and right then and there, in that moment, I made the decision that things had to change. No more running myself into the ground, no more eating every meal on the go and no more filling my schedule so far to the brim that I had no room left to do things I loved or spend time with the people I loved. This dream I had of building my business was somehow trapping me into a life I had begun to dislike because all of the other components no longer mattered. But suddenly they did. Over the next year, I went on a quest to figure out my body (specifically my weight) and how I could organize my life in a way that could provide balance and health. After digging deep and ridding myself of old ways of thinking and eating, including admitting that emotional eating was in my equation, I was able to beat my addiction to sugar and empty carbohydrates and fill my diet with nutrient rich, primarily plant based foods, which as I discovered, were best for my specific body type. In turn, I lost 40 pounds, my skin brightened, I began to have way more energy and I was able to do the things I loved the most, like surfing yoga! In the process of losing those 40 pounds my attitude changed, I felt happier, more energetic and even became more productive in my working hours because I began to have a more balanced life. Since that revelation, I was able to grow Bubble Shack to a level I was content with and then sell the company so I could further focus on my healthy lifestyle and go back to nutrition school in order to help others achieve their health and lifestyle goals.
After graduation and working for a while to help others get healthy, I began missing the world of beauty and skincare and decided it would be the perfect time to start a line of skincare that could incorporate everything I had learned over the years and that’s how O’o Hawaii began.
3. Tell us a story/incident that happened while starting or running your company that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that.
Wow, I’ve had so many over the years between the two businesses, it’s just a part of the game of being an entrepreneur. Everything from getting turned down for bank loans to support the business while my checking account would take swings of being way positive to negative in the thousands (in the early years) to being talked down so low on prices by customers I really wanted to do business with to dealing with employee issues, all in one day, there is always something that can make you feel defeated….. it’s really how you choose to react. Once you realize that all of these things are normal and will happen, just stopping, taking a breath and tactically dealing with them one by one, they eventually resolve. After a few years of being an entrepreneur I realized I could get through just about any issue because the pressure is intense, especially when ultimately everything is your responsibility.
4. Have you had any unique challenges as a woman in business?
Luckily I haven’t had too many experiences, however, doing business in Japan is a little tricky as an American woman. Even in cosmetics it’s a male driven business. When doing a tradeshow the male buyers would completely ignore me and turn to my husband, who would be my “helper” in the booth and try and discuss all aspects of the business. That was a little annoying…..
I did have this one experience with a local bank (several years ago). The bank VP told me that maybe if I was an engineer in corporate America looking to start my own company that maybe they would consider me. (I’m not sure 100% what the actual gender ratios amongst engineers are but I immediately think male.) Forget the fact that I already had one successful business plus had been named Hawaii’s 50 Fast Growing Companies three years in a row by Pacific Business News and an engineer with no experience running his own business would be considered for a loan over me…..that one raised my blood pressure a bit….. That experience however just motivated me to work harder and push forward to find another lender. I did go to another bank and got the loan no problem.
5. What is your biggest fear with your company and how do you overcome it?
This time around my line is being manufactured by a contract lab. We have to order larger quantities at a time and just managing cash flow so that I can keep the flow going is something I think about at night. But so far so good and we have several funding sources available to us so just need to stay on top of it all.
6. Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
Don’t let fear lead you. What’s the worst that could happen? You lose money? The way I’ve always viewed the entrepreneur life is you can always start again and again and again until you get it right. You just have to hustle. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, all the extra hours and work won’t seem like work at all. If it does, then you should re-examine what it is your going after.
Some specifics though:
-If you’re selling a product, price your products with enough room so that if you do want to distribute them in a wholesale or distributor situation, you have enough room in the product margins so that everyone can make money.
-Don’t say yes to everyone just because you want the business. Every retailer is not the right retailer for your business. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If the retailer is unwilling to budge and their proposed collaboration will be a burden on your company, just say NO.
-Don’t try and do everything yourself. Your business will suffer. Contract things that you don’t like doing out. If you focus on doing the things you like and are good at, your business will thrive.
-Keep balance in your life, eat whole foods and move your body daily!
7. What are your goals with the company?
I want O’o Hawaii to be an international brand. We already have distribution in Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, Grand Cayman and through Feel Unique in London. When it comes down to it, the US is only about 95% of the world’s commerce so exploring the world market is pretty import to us. To bring a Hawaii brand to the international marketplace is pretty rare. There are so many hurdles for Hawaii companies and with my last company, we just didn’t have the margins to export. We set O’o Hawaii up in a way that it can thrive in markets all over the world.
Make sure to join us this Friday on our Instagram for our Female Founders Giveaway!! You can win some cool Too Pretty gear and a some amazing O'o Hawaii products! See you there!!