DOSE (an acronym for happy hormones Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins), was ahead of the curve when it launched back in 2016.
The digital publication, catering to ‘healthy hedonists’ searching for a more relaxed and feel-good approach to wellness, quickly struck a chord with a small but engaged demographic, which today has grown to an audience of over 200k, with 35k subscribers.
The brainchild of Hettie Holmes and Shara Tochia, the startup began life after the two fitness entrepreneurs had a chance meeting. Holmes, then running a blog called Health & Hedonism while freelancing for FaceGym and Tochia who was working for the newly launched fitness boutique 1Rebel, spotted a gap in the market for a resource that provided an alternative approach to wellness.
On a mission to become the digital destination for healthy hedonists living in London, the duo have since diversified their offering to include partnerships with global brands including L’Oreal, Nike, lululemon and Bacardi Group, mass events in partnership with Unilever brands and Heineken 0.0, and a successful podcast which is now in its third season.
Eager to kickstart the next phase of business growth, the duo is now looking to fundraise, in order to facilitate the extension of the DOSE brand into new areas.
Here we talk to Holmes and Tochia about making the leap from employees to co-founders, how they’re future-proofing their business and why they believe in forging a new wellness paradigm…….
On forging a new wellness paradigm………
H: We were both early adopters of London’s fitness scene. While I was reporting on classes and events, Shara was running them, so together we had a unique perspective of the industry and could see where it was going.
Nightclubs were closing down at a rapid rate and people were “working out” instead of “going out”, swapping synthetic highs for endogenous ones — the concept of hedonism was changing.
We wanted to create a site for pleasure seekers in search of balance — a non-judgemental, fun, lifestyle companion — keeping you in the loop with feel-good experiences.
There are still so many wellness publications preaching ‘holier than thou’ advice on health, diets and detoxes and there are lifestyle sites about where to eat, drink and go out. DOSE is unique in that it sits in the middle.
We want to promote health but ultimately it’s about feeling good. Our readers earn their rewards through a sweaty workout and mix up their cocktails with no/low alternatives. We see ourselves as their fun, fitness companion that wants them to live each day to the fullest and nurture their physical as well as emotional wellbeing. That’s what being a healthy hedonist is about.
On making the leap from employees to co-founders……
H: We spent a year bouncing ideas around and testing the concept for a healthy hedonist magazine with a basic newsletter whilst in the security of our 9-5 jobs. I was freelancing for FaceGym whilst Shara was with Facebook and Instagram.
After a year testing a newsletter and building a database through competitions, we’d built a small audience, and then we each got ultimatums from our jobs asking us to go full-time or leave. It was then decided to make DOSE our full-time job and we haven’t looked back.
I got married and went on my honeymoon and as soon as I came back we started meeting regularly at Shara’s house, putting a content pipeline in place and getting on the radar of every PR in London.
On the importance of finding the right business partner……
H: Finding the right business partner was so important to us given that we’d both been stung in the past.
People are everything, so Shara and I have the hugest amount of respect for each other and we’re open and honest about our life goals and ambitions.
We listen to each other, compromise and keep an open discourse. It’s like a marriage — you either grow together or apart.
On utilising individual skillsets to build the business………
H: When launching the business we took a step back and realised we had to focus on our own individual skillsets — mine being writing. I had a good idea of how to work with PRs and write but I wasn’t sure how to monetise a magazine. That’s where Shara came in.
She applied her experience of brand partnerships to build a commercial advertising offering so we could create a business. We diversified our content areas to become more SEO friendly, simplifying the brand to revolve around things that make people feel good, such as fitness, food and drink. And this has since evolved to include travel, beauty, fashion, health, events and podcasts.
On cultivating credibility through content…….
H: We align ourselves with trusted, recognised experts across all of our content pillars, from sleep to nutrition. We back up everything we are communicating, as well as hyperlinking any studies to their original source for further reading.
As part of a recent survey, we learnt that our readers aren’t a fan of fads and clickbait content — they like evidence-based research. So we’ll be making some strategic hires over the next year to help us deliver content to our readers in a more targeted way.
We don’t want to spam our readers’ inboxes. We want to deliver targeted content and experiences that are relevant to their needs to help them live happier, healthier lives.
On expanding into events………..
H: Shara’s background is events, from managing b2c mass participation raves to b2b events with major global brands, so it felt natural to hone in on this skillset and make it part of our offering.
According to a study by Harris Group, 72% of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences than on material things, and our readers aged 25-40 are fuelling this experience economy. Six hundred people attended our mass participation fitness event with Fabletics and 1,500 customers attended our sold-out Ministry of Sound event over 5 days.
Based on the success of the above, we are now due to host our annual mass participation fitness event in partnership with Classpass and Halewood Drinks in January 2020.
By carrying out surveys on our most engaged readers we can see that they want more event experiences like this, so in the future, we will be making events even more of a focus.
On refining the brand for future success …….
S: We are known as a multimedia digital brand producing podcasts, events, social and video content. But after interviewing our most engaged readers to find out what they want, we’re now in the midst of a brand refresh to take into account more targeted communications and event experiences.
The media landscape is changing rapidly, with many publishers switching from print to digital. We have had to stay really fluid by becoming a multi-platform brand to mould to these changing times.
That said the DOSE brand is so much more than media. We have exciting plans to launch a new project that sits at the intersection of these rapidly growing industries — so watch this space.