Hilary Coles wants you to be well.
The do-gooder grew up with a strong sense of responsibility to those around her—in her family and the greater Canadian community. After college, she worked in the non-profit sector, helping to support unwell veterans, before earning an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
It was there that she found what felt like her true calling: She was introduced to Andrew Dudum—founder of men’s health-care concept, Hims—and was quickly pulled into the fold, named VP of product and co-founder of Hers (Him’s female-focused counterpart, still evolving at the time).
Since 2018, she’s been running the show at Hers, a site that strives to bring change to health-care through access to medications, doctors, reproductive/sexual health aids and even skincare products—all in one spot.
Here, Coles discusses the importance of changing the landscape of women’s health-care and, on a personal level, of self-acceptance in the process:
Live The Process: Can you share a bit about your background? Have you always been interested in healthcare, wellness and entrepreneurship?
Hilary Coles: I grew up in Canada, in a single-parent home with my mom and two younger sisters. When we were growing up, there were times when my mom was working three jobs at once to make sure there was food on the table. She taught me how to be a strong woman and, for that, I am forever grateful. Living in an all female household, women’s health was always an open conversation and my mother encouraged all three of us to speak out if we had questions or concerns.
After I earned my undergraduate degree, I began working at a non-profit that took ill and injured soldiers and veterans—together with business and community leaders from across Canada—on life-changing global expeditions. These expeditions allowed the soldiers to both recover and pay it forward by raising money for others injured in combat. Through this job, and the people I met while there, I grew interested in business and decided to apply to get my master’s. I ended up attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Because Canada provides universal health care, I never realized how broken the US health-care system was until I got here. I truly couldn’t understand how unnecessarily complicated and restrictive the US system was! It made me realize that I took universal health care for granted. I grew passionate about finding a better way to get people access to the care they need.
Ultimately, I was introduced to Andrew Dudum, who connected me to Atomic, where we co-founded Hims and Hers.
LTP: How did you come to work with Hims and Hers? What is the vibe there?
HC: I met Hims and Hers founder and CEO, Andrew Dudum, through a friend; and we hit it off over a long discussion about the various brands that we admired. After getting to know each other, Andrew introduced me to Atomic, the VC firm where he founded Hims and helped create my role as VP of product and co-founder of Hers.
Working at Hims and Hers is extremely motivating. Our team is made up of incredible individuals who are passionate about helping those who want and need access to proper care. I am excited about the future of this company as we continue to expand the health states we address and drive greater access to the health-care system for men and women everywhere.
LTP: When did Hims launch and how was it received?
HC: We launched Hims in November of 2017. We saw a huge gap in the men’s health and wellness industry and realized that men lacked a more efficient and informed process for obtaining medical care. Because of their limited options, men were ignoring their health and not having conversations about exceptionally normal conditions like hair loss or erectile dysfunction. In launching Hims, we sought to address and normalize the narrative around men taking care of themselves.
We’ve seen an incredibly enthusiastic response since launch and remain committed to expanding into categories where men’s needs are still not being met. The ongoing evolution of the telehealth landscape will continue to drive greater access to quality care, and we look forward to playing a part in providing our customers with the tools, access and treatment they need to live their best lives.
LTP: Now you’ve launched Hers. What’s the concept behind the company?
HC: We launched Hers in November of 2018, a year to the day after we launched Hims. We created Hers because we saw a giant gap in the women’s health and wellness space. Unlike men, women have been overwhelmed and underserved by the beauty and health industries for years. We realized that there was no reliable place for them to readily find concrete answers to their questions and concerns when they wanted and needed to, so we created one!
Stats surrounding women’s health and wellness are jarring. Approximately 19 million women in the US lack access to at least one public clinic within their county, where contraceptive methods are usually accessible. And per the American Hospital Association, approximately 3.5 million patients go without care because they cannot access transportation to their providers. This is simply not acceptable.
The Hers platform gives women access to our network of doctors who can provide guidance and medical-grade treatments for various conditions and daily needs like birth control, acne, hair loss, melasma and, coming soon, emergency contraception. I personally cannot live without my Hers skincare regimen; it truly saved me.
In creating Hers, we’re providing women with trusted resources to help them better understand their options when it comes to preventative care.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
HC: Happiness can feel like this pressure-filled thing to attain: “Are you happy? 10 ways to get happier!” It’s a process, and it doesn’t come easily every single day.
My definition of happiness is accepting yourself and prioritizing what makes you feel good: For me, that’s quality time with my loved ones; that’s working; that’s spending some time outdoors walking by myself every day.
But it changes! And I think that checking in with or auditing yourself is really important. Are you putting out toxic energy? Are you drained? Has a friendship become unhealthy because you don’t like yourself in that dynamic?
Turning 30 was wild because it felt really different. It felt like some of my past patterns didn’t work for me anymore. I was more aware of my impact on others. I wanted to be better.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
HC: “Live The Process,” to me, means doing everything you can to be happy, accomplish your dreams and chase your passions. I think self-acceptance plays a vital role in reaching the ultimate level of centeredness, but it’s not an instant thing. It takes work. You need to be gentle and understanding with yourself and those around you. Some days are better than others, but the beauty and the purpose of your process is in your journey, your exploration and your effort.
Cover image Julia Morozova, Barnaby Hutchins. All other images courtesy of Hers.