Collagen pills and powder did wonders for Bassima Mroue’s health—but not for her taste buds.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, the co-founder and CEO of collagen-infused sparkling tea brand SkinTē talks about following her intuition to create a healthy product that also tastes good.
From undiagnosed endometriosis to severe sciatica, Mroue had to push through multiple health issues while working at Nike. The latter led to back surgery, and her surgeon’s recommendation that she take collagen to aid the healing process. After this, Mroue said she began reassessing how what she put into her body impacted her overall health.
“I think it was my health breaking down and me feeling like I had hit rock bottom,” she recalled. “I was like, I’m too young to be feeling like my health is deteriorating. And if I’m going to work so hard and make all this money just to spend it on health bills, then it’s not really worth it.”
That epiphany led Mroue to approach her naturopathic doctor Amy Bader about a way to make the collagen more enjoyable to consume. Bader had already been working with her friend Elizabeth Zieg, a chef, on different recipes containing the beneficial protein at the request of multiple patients. Mroue said they wanted to perfect a holistic formula—playing around with herbs, teas and collagen to maximize the drink’s benefits.
The three women founded SkinTē early in 2019 and lived off of their savings as they sought fundraising for the startup. Mroue had former Nike colleagues taste-test different versions, and SkinTē would tweak its recipe based on their feedback. As Bader and Zieg focused on health and taste, Mroue worked to prove to investors that their company had the potential to grow.
Mroue said each woman’s distinct skillset helped SkinTē succeed. And though some investors initially balked at a company led by three women with no previous experience in the beverage industry, that only further fueled their desire to create an unapologetically feminine brand.
“I think women who have feminine energy are very collaborative,” Mroue said. “We care a lot about culture. I think it fosters innovation, that collaborative spirit, and I think that’s the future of entrepreneurship.”
dot.LA editorial intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.