health Sep 29, 2021Nootropics 101
May 23, 2022
No. 8 Featured in Martha Stewart
MAY 9, 2022 / MARTHA STEWART / Trina Chan, the Co-Founder and CEO of No. 8, Is on a Mission to Boost Brain Health Around the World
Trina Chan's approach to wellness involves journaling, which keeps her organized, improves her memory, and allows her to express her thoughts. This practice, however, is just one piece of the mental health puzzle: The co-founder and CEO of No. 8, a nootropics gummy brand designed to increase brain health, knows that not everyone's path to wellness is the same—or even discussed. "My goal is to normalize conversations around mental health," the entrepreneur says. "I believe that taking care of your mind should be as routine as brushing your teeth—it's something that needs to be tended to daily in order to maintain it."
She began building No. 8 alongside her co-founder, Kaling Lim, right before March 2020, when COVID-19 lockdowns began in the United States. They decided to work together to fight the stigma around mental health and use their joint skills—they both come from the startup world—to create a product to support the minds of everyone around the world. Gummies aren't all the brand offers: "Even if our products aren't right for you, hopefully you'll find value in the mental health-related content that we put forth on @weareno.8," Chan explains.
Rooted in Culture
When creating her business, Chan knew that she wanted to pay homage to her heritage—so she and Lim started with their company name, which holds special meaning. "In Chinese culture, the number 8 symbolizes harmony and balance, with its two halves held in perfect symmetry," the entrepreneur explains. "We chose No. 8 to reflect our belief that mental wellness is grounded in bringing the body and mind into balance."
The early stages of the brand's development also highlighted how important it was to anchor their brand in Chan and Lim's culture. "Several well-intentioned advisors warned us against positioning ourselves as an Asian-founded brand," Chan says, noting that hate crimes against people of Asian descent rose by 76 percent in 2020. "There was concern that the xenophobia and bigotry toward Asian American and Pacific Islander communities would have a direct impact on our business." This experience only pushed Chan and Lim to double down on their stance. "We did not want to allow fear to hold us back from taking space," she says.
Fulfilling a Need
When they started thinking about the types of gummies they wanted to create, the founders rounded up their friends and families into focus groups and asked them to identify their key pain points, especially within the context of the pandemic. Insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety came in on top. Their participants candidly expressed that their mental health struggles were enhanced during the coronavirus outbreak mainly because of social isolation—some even spoke out about their overarching struggles with mental health for the first time in their lives, furthering the founders' desires to make these discussions commonplace through their brand.
From there, their loved ones let Chan and her team know that education and transparency about the gummies' ingredients was extremely important them. "With so much misinformation, they wanted full reassurance that we were sharing accurate information regarding our products, neuroscience, and mental health," Chan says. "This led to the formation of our Wellness Council, which consists of experts in different areas of brain health: Dr. Bowen Jiang, MD, a neurosurgeon, Dr. Octavio Choi, MD, PhD, a neuropsychiatrist, and Nawal Mustafa, a PhD candidate in clinical neuropsychology."
The Ingredients of the Gummies
This team of experts created the No. 8 gummies with FDA GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredients, which are third-party lab tested for quality assurance; they are made with nootropics, which Chan likens to vitamins for your brain. "A nootropic is a compound that improves cognitive functions like memory, motivation, concentration, or attention," she explains. "There are two types of nootropics: synthetic (e.g. Adderall or Piracetam) or natural (e.g. Coffee or L-Theanine)." The No. 8 products only contain the latter.
There are four different types of gummies you can shop now: No. 8 Energy Nootropic Gummies, which increase energy and reduce stress; No. 8 Sleep Nootropic Gummies, which ease you into a deep, soothing rest; No. 8 Calm Nootropic Gummies, which lower cortisol and stress levels; and No. 8 Focus Nootropic Gummies, which boost concentration. Chan affirms that the No. 8 team only uses natural nootropics that have proven efficacy in randomized, double-blind clinical trials in healthy human adults. Each formula is developed based on the Wellness Council's insight as well as biomedical literature (this is always listed on their website), so you can easily identify which product is best for you.
Working with Her Peers
While No. 8 is just six months post-launch, Chan notes that there is one big takeaway she has gained so far: The importance of building a founder community. "I've learned so much from other entrepreneurs who have been in my shoes and have successfully scaled their businesses," she says. "It's so important to continuously create opportunities to connect, ask questions, and listen to other perspectives. Your viewpoint isn't a single point of truth."