An interview with our founders
We (founders Hana Holecko and Gil Seok) were interviewed by our retail partner Uncommon Goods about our journey to creating Veriant and Mella. We were excited to share our story with them and so we’re sharing it with you all, too!
Q: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Hana: Nashville, Tennessee.
Gil: Chicago, Illinois.
Q: Where did you go to school, and what did you study?
Hana: Savannah College of Art & Design, BFA in Fashion Marketing & Management, minor in Fashion.
Gil: New York University, BS in Business Management, minor in Marketing and Revenue Management.
Q: What got you interested in doing the work you do? Did you have an "aha" moment when you knew this is what you wanted to do?
Hana: I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit ever since I was selling gumballs to my classmates out of my locker in second grade. I came to SCAD to study fashion, and as much as I loved designing, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do as a career. Throughout my time in university, I made money working as a makeup artist on editorial shoots. The passion I was missing for making fashion I had tenfold for beauty. In my junior year, I studied abroad in Hong Kong and was exposed to so much beauty innovation. It changed my life. When I returned to the Savannah campus, I told all my professors that I was the Fashion student not pursuing fashion. They supported me in making all my projects beauty industry-based, so I graduated with a beauty portfolio and never looked back. I’ve spent my entire career since developing beauty, personal care, and wellness products.
Gil: Growing up, I watched my parents manage their own retail store (they still do so today!) When I entered the workforce myself, I never thought I would follow. But, going through my own journey working in corporate America, I realized I had an affinity for entrepreneurship. I've always been comfortable and interested in numbers and problem-solving, which led me to finding my home in operations.
Q: How would you describe your workspace to a curious customer?
Hana: Gil and I each work from our respective homes, in two different cities! Gil lives in Seattle and I’m in South San Francisco.
Q: How does your work help people, or bring them joy? Have you had customer reactions to your work that have warmed your heart and/or helped motivate you?
Hana: Yes! A review that lives in my mind rent free is one where our customer said Steady As You Glow gives her “a glow that you can spot from space” and our customers are constantly surprised and impressed by how Mella really improves their overall wellbeing through dreamier sleep.
Q: How did you meet and start working together?
Hana: Gil and I met working at cocokind, a skincare company based in San Francisco, where I was Director of Product Development and Gil was Director of Operations. We started at cocokind only ~3 weeks apart and quickly found that we shared the same values in business and had totally different but completely complementary skill sets. We left cocokind both knowing we wanted to start a company together, and did so in 2020 (yep, right after the pandemic started). We launched Veriant with our first brand, Mella, on September 15, 2021.
Q: How do you work together now - what’s the division of labor?
Hana: We divide work according to what we each are best at and most enjoy, while keeping each other involved so we can continue to feed our appetites for learning and co-creating. I’m the CEO and focus on our company’s vision and pipeline: R&D, product development (including formulation and packaging), sourcing, testing, regulatory & compliance, manufacturing, creative, communications, and social media. Gil is the COO and focuses on all things operations: forecasting & planning, data analytics, finances, customer experience, fulfillment & logistics, purchasing, quality control, process standardization, and strategic sales. We’re both equally dedicated to ensuring sustainability throughout everything we do.