Meet Ashley Harmon: 2023 TL Effect Winner
Congratulations, Ashley Harmon, founder of Mela Vitamins – a revolutionary wellness brand formulated for melanated bodies.
Everyone has a right to wellness, but Ashley discovered supplement brands don't include melanin in the equation.
After 10 years of research and struggling with chronic fatigue, digestive problems, and more, Ashley learned that melanin impacts how nutrients are absorbed.
“Melanated people are often underrepresented in clinical trials and research, leading to a lack of understanding of our specific health needs,” Ashley told us.
This inspired Ashley to start Mela Vitamins, a revolutionary brand rooted in melanin wellness.
It’s easy to see Ashley’s passion. However, it wasn’t easy to get her business off the ground. Stepping into a billion-dollar industry that has already shown not to prioritize melanated people, she was ready to prove them wrong.
“I do not look like most supplement company founders, and I did not start with a large financial backing,” Ashley noted. “It was challenging to find business and manufacturing partners, as many did not understand the need for Mela Vitamins.”
Thankfully, she didn’t let those challenges deter her. The launch of Daily Essentials, the first product from Mela Vitamins, was self-funded – and successful.
“We are changing the narrative around the need for wellness products and supplements specifically made for melanated people.” Ashley continued, “The amount of love and support I have received since launching Mela Vitamins has been breathtaking.”
She continued: “We have created a new niche within the wellness and beauty industry that has been largely underserved.”
With her growing success, Ashley isn’t planning on stopping. She told us she’s looking to scale and cast a wider net into the wellness sphere.
“Our goal is to grow Mela Vitamins to be the go-to wellness brand for melanated people,” she said. “[Expanding] our offerings to include supplements for men and children, as well as other products that address health priorities in our community like prenatal and heart health.”
“We are focused on fostering a
community dedicated to improving the wellness of melanated people.”
After hearing Ashley’s story and witnessing her commitment to her brand firsthand, it’s even more exciting to help her in her journey through the TL Effect. ThirdLove’s in-house mentorship program acts as a launching pad for women-of-color entrepreneurs and their startups through grant access, office space, and invaluable mentorship and fundraising advice from our own DTC thought leaders.
“We have achieved great traction…but we still have a long way to go to accomplish our big goals,” Ashley told us. “We can learn so much from the ThirdLove team.”
Following her growing success, Ashley wants to ensure her community leaves knowing one thing: “Wellness is not some unattainable goal.”
She continued: “You deserve to prioritize your wellness, and we are here to be your companion along your journey towards optimal health and happiness.”
Want more TL Effect? Meet our program alumni:
- Arah Sims, Kyutee
- Tiffany M. Griffin, Bright Black
- Dorian Morris, Undefined
- Orion Brown, BlackTravelBox
If you’re interested in being notified when applications for ThirdLove’s next cohort opens, please fill out the form here.