Here at Kathy Kuo Home, we recently announced a brand-new series of interviews here on The Kuotes blog! We are calling this series Kuotable Women and it’s our way of celebrating brilliant female entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs–both in the design world and in other lifestyle categories like health and wellness, fashion, food, and parenting.
In these uncertain times, I wanted to spotlight how some of our favorite women in business are making it work as they work from home and give them a portal for sharing their successes, struggles, advice, and questions with likeminded individuals–because, now more than ever, we are all in this together!
For our second installment, we are thrilled to be chatting with Hilma co-founder and chief brand officer Lily Galef. Hilma is a new brand of all-natural wellness remedies–or “medicine cabinet staples” as the brand refers to them–backed by science and aimed about essential functions like boosting immunity, relieving tension, and more.
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Lily Galef working from home. To learn more about Hilma, visit hilma.co!
Tell us about your professional background–what were some of the key milestones that brought you to where you are professionally?
I started my career at Vogue, and have been in media ever since. Before starting Hilma I worked at Refinery29 for three years, where I focused on co-branded content strategy with our retail and fashion partners. My job at Refinery29 was a key milestone for me because I had fantastic mentors who were trailblazers of content for a new generation. I learned so much in my time there, both about brand strategy and building a mission-driven organization.
For anyone unfamiliar with Hilma, what is the core mission?
Hilma’s mission is to make natural remedies that are scientifically backed and accessible.
My co-founders and I started our business because we realized we were always looking for clean labels–in our food, our skincare, even our cleaning products–but didn’t have a comparable option when it came to our medicine cabinets.
So we created the new medicine cabinet staples–Immune Support, Upset Stomach Relief, and Tension Relief. All Hilma products are made with natural ingredients, formulated with doctors, and made accessible by bringing the most powerful herbs and minerals together into easy to use products.
Tell us about your home–whom do you share your space with (children, partner, roommate, pets), and where do you live?
Usually I live alone in an apartment in the West Village in NYC, but for right now, given everything that is going on [with COVID-19], I am living at my mom’s house in Connecticut with my entire family (I’m the oldest of five siblings–I have two sisters and two brothers), my boyfriend, and my mom’s three dogs.
It has definitely been an interesting transition but I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful space to live and work during this time.
Lily Galef’s current #WFH set-up.
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During these uncertain times when many professionals are finding themselves working from home, how are you approaching working from home and balancing work with the other aspects of your life?
This was very challenging for me at first. We just launched our business, so I am comfortable working very long hours, but because I am working and living in the same space, it felt impossible to switch off from work.
I learned how important it is to institute rituals and routines to mentally shift from work time to time off. I’ve found that going on a morning and evening walk allows me to make that mental transition. I also completely clear my work items out of my space to force myself to turn off!
Do you have a designated workspace in your home? If so, how is it set up?
I do–I have a little desk in my room where I work. I try to keep it very clean, just my laptop, a glass of water and maybe a notepad. Because I work in my bedroom I put everything away at the end of the day so I can mentally transition out of the workday. If I can see my laptop, I will be thinking about my to-do list.
There is also a little window seat in my room where I will sit at the beginning of the day to go through my emails. It is cozy and a nice way to transition into work early in the morning.
What are some of your work from home must-have items or favorite pieces? On the flip-side, what are some of your favorite items that help you enjoy self-care and relaxation?
A comfortable chair! When I first moved out here, the chair I had at my desk was really for decoration only–no cushions, no back support, and I very quickly realized I needed to switch. I ended up stealing a chair from my sister’s room that is much more comfortable and it has been life-changing. I also always have Hilma Tension Relief (so important when staring at a screen all day!) and a large glass of water at my desk–hydration is so important.
In terms of self-care and relaxation, I brought a yoga mat with me and have been trying to stretch each morning before I go on a walk. Focusing on my breath and stretching my body for even a few moments each morning really helps to stay grounded and calm throughout the day.
A beautiful spring view!
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What advice would you give to other professional women about maximizing the work from home experience?
Make sure you are checking in with your team. We are a small, close-knit team, and really value the personal connection of being in the office together. One thing we instituted right away when we began working from home was a daily stand-up meeting where everyone goes through their top priority for the day and a “fun fact” unrelated to work or COVID. It’s a nice way to stay positive and in the loop with the team.
I would also say it’s crucial to disconnect from work. I say this to myself more than anyone! As I mentioned above, it can be hard to mentally transition away from work when you are working and living in the same space, so any ritual you can institute to make that transition is so important. It can be as small as taking a walk or just taking 10 deep breaths to signify that your workday is ending.
Given that you work in the health and wellness space, what are your go-to wellness routines that are keeping you sane right now?
There are two wellness-related things I do every day that are keeping me sane. The first walking–I take two walks a day, one in the morning and one in the evening after I finish work, rain or shine.
I leave my phone in the house. For me this is such an important bookend to the workday that allows me to make the mental shift from work to spending time with my family or doing something for myself like reading a book or taking a bath.
The second is I drink Hilma Immune Support every morning. It has become a part of my morning ritual–it makes me feel good to do something positive for my health every day, and I love the way the natural ingredients (Vitamin C, Turmeric, Echinacea, Zinc, Ginger, Ivy Extract) taste. It’s the perfect little morning boost. I also love making it in my mom’s kitchen because she has so many plants and great light.
Aside from navigating the immediate challenges of our current moment in history, what goals do you have in your personal and professional life right now?
My biggest goal at the moment, both personally and professionally, is growing our business at Hilma! We hope to have a place in the medicine cabinet of every home, and stand cross-category as a natural option for anything you would look for in the OTC aisle.
It’s been an exciting few months since our launch and I am laser focused on continuing to build momentum!
Who inspires you the most, and why?
Dr. Aviva Romm, one of our scientific advisors at Hilma, is a huge source of inspiration to me. She has had an incredibly successful career–she is a Yale-trained MD, founding board member of the Yale Institute of Integrative health, has written seven books (the list goes on)–and she uses her platform and position of power to mentor and support other women.
Hilma is a great example–when we first met her, Hilma was nothing but an idea, and she took a chance on us and has been instrumental in developing our formulations and helping navigate the herbal and medical space.
Hilma’s all-natural products help keep Lily feeling well!
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