The co-founders reimagine Traditional Chinese Medicine into a modern form of self-care.

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Dr. Ervina Wu and Angela Chau Gray
Credit: Courtesy of YINA

Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs-as well as their quality, handmade goods-and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

For Dr. Ervina Wu and Angela Chau Gray, trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is more than medicine; it's a lifestyle, one that has been woven into every step of their personal journeys. While Gray remembers her family's pantry packed with TCM products as a child, the practice played a major role in Dr. Wu's cancer recovery. "During chemotherapy, I experienced poor appetite, fatigue, and depression," she explains. "My TCM doctor gave me a topical herbal patch that dramatically improved my overall wellbeing and mood in just days. It was a profound experience for me to witness as a patient."

So, when the duo joined forces to launch their skin care line called YINA in early 2021, it was only natural that TCM would be at the center of the brand. "Topical medicine has always been a big part of Chinese medicine," explains Dr. Wu. "Whether it's canker sores, travel sickness, bruises, headaches, soft tissues injury, stress, or even colds and fever. There are remedies." Whatever you do, don't write YINA off as just another skin care brand yet. The duo is prioritizing wellness on a skin and soul-deep level and putting TCM on a global stage in the process. "The world doesn't need another moisturizer, but it certainly needs inspiration and connection," says Dr. Wu. "All of us can be more inspired to take better care of ourselves."

Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine

For over 2,500 years, the concept of TCM has been reimagined into a handful of practices such as tai chi, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal offerings. But, at its core? The storied concept revolves around Yang Sheng—which translates to "nourished life"—a powerful practice that promotes health and longevity. "Yang Sheng is about eating and living with the seasons, it's also about nurturing your body's self-healing capacity," explains Gray. "Daily practice of Yang Sheng helps connect our body and mind and to balance our physical and mental health."

Since Yang Sheng prioritizes a mind-body connection, it's only natural that it was a central pillar of YINA, too. "Healthy skin requires good lifestyle habits, adequate sleep, appropriate diet, and balancing stress," shares Dr. Wu. "The good news is there is so much TCM can offer to help you along your wellness journey. It's been around for thousands of years and practiced by millions around the world."

Meet YINA

With less than a year of business under its belt, YINA's inventory is already stocked with serums, cleansers, body products, and accessories. But, it was important to the duo that their brand did not sacrifice quality. "We mindfully source our ingredients globally, and currently make most of our products at our in-house lab in California," explains Gray.

yina divine bio cellulose face mask
Credit: Courtesy of YINA

While YINA offers a way to incorporate TCM into virtually every part of your skin care, customers flock to the brand's sheet masks. "Our DIVINE Bio-cellulose Mask (from $20, yina.co) is a multi-correctional skin treat, it hydrates, balances, soothes, brightens, and rejuvenates the skin," shares Gray. "It's also a reminder to slow down and take time for self-care." Another fan favorite? YINA's Gua Sha ($50, yina.co), a tool made from a cosmic stone that predates acupuncture. "This tool works well with the Recovery Body Treatment ($125, yina.co) because it helps to improve circulation and relieve tension," adds Gray. "Something many of us need these days."

Creating a lineup of crowd-pleaser cosmetics is an impressive feat all in its own. But, for the duo, the biggest reward comes from the customers who have used their products to take their wellness routine beyond the skin's surface. "It's really the sum of little moments that make us passionate about what we do everyday," explains Dr. Wu. "Like when users tell us how our Gua Sha tips help them deal with stress, bloating, PMS, or how the mask helps with their sunburns, perioral dermatitis, or get ready for a red carpet event. Our success comes from inspiring people to learn to take care of themselves and stay healthy."

To continue their mission, the duo has its sights on adding hyper-personalized products to YINA's offerings. "Customized wellness is a forte in TCM and we are working on having it accessible digitally," explains Dr. Wu.

Follow the North Star

Admittedly, launching any business is a big, stressful undertaking. And, though YINA is a wellness-centric company, Dr. Wu and Gray were faced with a unique set of challenges. Not only are the founders global citizens—currently spending time in Singapore and California—but they also founded a company during the global pandemic.

"Supply chain and logistics have been challenging during the pandemic," explains Gray. "What used to take four to six weeks is now taking months. We had an important order to fulfill and things were just sitting at the ports because of cancelled ships and delayed custom clearance. We made it in time for the fulfillment, but it was super stressful."

But, through all the inevitable ups and down ever entrepreneur faces, the duo has focused on their goal of celebrating TCM and encouraging wellness from the outside in. "Always know your North Star," adds Gray. "Stay focused on why you are doing what you are doing, and pace yourself. Remember that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.

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