The past decade has seen profound growth in the herbal supplement market as more people turn to non-pharmaceutical treatments to improve health. But the integrative medicine world is complex by design, making it intimidating for some people to begin their wellness journeys. To help sift through the abundance of options, Danielle Chang and William Li created The Hao Life, a new Chinese modality brand that aims to take the guesswork out of herbal supplements. Their approach is simple and focuses on concentrating ingredients into daily supplements to be taken alongside your regular vitamins. Ahead, we spoke with Chang and Li about how they modernized this ancient form of medicine for modern consumption and why it should be a part of your daily routine.
Who’s Behind The Hao Life?
Chinese herbs have been around for thousands of years. The word Hao, which means "good" in Chinese, comprises characters for mother and child, symbolizing a harmonious balance that informs the brand's ethos. Chang spent her career spotlighting Chinese culture through fashion, food, and wellness with the nationwide Asian food festival LuckyRice and as the creator and host of "Lucky Chow," which brings stories of Asian American culinary culture to TV.
Her partner Li climbed the ranks of corporate leadership, first at Condé Nast's Men's Vogue and Portfolio, before becoming the global president for Ralph Lauren Home. The two met a decade ago and bonded over their heritage, and shared a desire to create a wellness brand that celebrated their culture's plant-based remedies. Through their respective platforms, they introduced and de-mystified Asian culinary culture to a broad audience. Now, they hope to do the same with wellness. With a mission to shatter "bamboo ceilings," Li is excited that his first entrepreneurial venture digs deep into his roots. "We wanted to create a modern Chinese wellness brand that emphasizes the good in our heritage."
What are Chinese Herbs?
Traditional Chinese herbal medicine (TCM) has been used as an alternative to its Western counterpart for centuries, and it's considered preventative medicine rather than reactive care. It's prescribed to block external pathogens known as "evil wind" from entering the lungs, which is considered our first defense line.
Having grown up with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Chang and Li know how effective the formulations are. "Whenever we were sick, our mothers would go to the kitchen cabinet instead of the medicine cabinet," says Chang. "Along with food, they would boil bitter concoctions of herbs that smelled so bad we had to drink them with pinched noses." Chang says that quality Chinese herbs are difficult to find and enigmatic at best, even when you do successfully source them. Additionally, the brewing process makes the development timeline lengthy and somewhat intimidating. So the duo enlisted TCM doctor David Melladew to help simplify the effort by concentrating them into pill form.
What Makes Them Unique
The team took time-tested formulations and supercharged them with adaptogens like reishi and cordyceps mushrooms. "We source the finest herbs throughout Asia, boil them down to granules and distill into our custom formulations that are taken twice a day in tablet form," says Chang. Due to the rigor of the herb concoction process, The Hao Life's easy-to-consume blends are unique to the market. "You can find some of the ingredients in individual herb form, but if you want a potent, clean blend in one capsule, this is ideal for your routine," she adds.
Chinese Herbs and Beauty
The ancient Chinese beauty secret has a lot to do with preventative care taken to balance hormones at every life stage. The duo recommends the "Come Clean" supplement for most people, which helps reduce water retention and encourages detoxification. Additionally, black sesame seeds, found in the women's hormonal support "Balancing Act Formulation," help moisturize and tone, offering an inside-out approach to a healthy glow.
Is There a Hero Product?
"Balancing Act" was the first formula created. Its name relates to the art of balancing work, family, and hormones. "Chinese medicine is well known for addressing women's health through every life stage, and this is the formula that helped me stay balanced through PMS, peri-menopause, and now, menopause," says Chang. "At my mom's urging, I started taking the herbs in this formula in my late 20's—especially after each pregnancy—because the Chinese believe that a mother's postpartum health is essential to maintaining her vitality and wellness into old age."
The Hao Life's philosophy is the earlier you start including this formula into your daily routine, the stronger the foundation you have to accommodate life's changes. For Li, "Breathing Room" is the star, and it's based on an herb mixture his mother would brew for him and his sister when they were young. "She made this once a week before and during flu season to boost our immunity and strengthen our respiratory systems," he says. "It's in an easy-to-use tablet form, so boosting health and immunity is simple as taking it twice daily."
Looking Towards The Future
Chang says part of Chinese culture is to embrace the good things in life at every stage consistently. For the duo, it currently means sharing the secrets of their Chinese heritage—not just the medicine element, but also to advocate for the importance of aging wisely. "Instead of growing older, we're embracing this natural process with vitality and wisdom," she says. "We hope to encourage people to welcome each of life's chapters with harmony and balance."