Good morning Broadsheet readers! New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill paving the way for reparations, Vice President Kamala Harris will launch a reproductive freedoms tour, and Selena Gomez’s mother and co-founder of Wondermind wants to bring “mental fitness” into the mainstream. Beautiful Wednesday.
– Mental fitness. Two years ago, singer and actress Selena Gomez announced that she was launching a new mental health company called Wondermind with her mother Mandy Teefey and Newsette founder Daniella Pearson. In mid-2022, Wondermind raised $5 million led by Serena Ventures, valuing the startup at $100 million.
This year, Teefey is leading Wondermind’s efforts to raise additional funding (still ongoing) and find its footing in the mental health field. (She serves as CEO and Gomez as Chief Impact Officer; Pearson currently holds no executive title.) The category is crowded with startups like Real and Alma; mental health was the fastest-growing category in Andreessen Horowitz’s annual market report earlier this year. But funding for mental health startups peaked at $5.5 billion in 2021, before falling by about half in 2022.
Unlike most startups in the category, Wondermind doesn’t start with any form of therapy (whether it’s virtual care, a provider marketplace, or prescription drugs). The startup originally launched as a content platform, publishing articles ranging from gift guides to information on ADHD, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. It also seeks to differentiate itself by focusing on what it calls “mental fitness” — or daily mindfulness and exercise for the mind — instead of overall mental health.
Today, Wondermind is still primarily a content platform with 400,000 Instagram followers. Ultimately, Teefey sees Wondermind selling products like those often used in mental health treatment programs for people to use at home. These product ideas include anti-anxiety breathing tools and balloons (for an exercise that involves blowing up balloons, writing on them something you want to release, and popping them.) Although many of these tools are already available for purchase, Teefey sees room for a more aesthetic version of these products that celebrates rather than obscures the need for them. She wants to create a “mental fitness trail” in the pharmacy.
“I’ve had treatment, so it’s an important thing for me and for Selena as well,” Teefey explains. “We’ve both been in treatment, and these tools really came in at an important time to help us work through our emotions.” (Gomez discussed her mental health issues in the documentary My mind and me.)
Although the vision for Wondermind involves products, Gomez and Teefey’s Hollywood backgrounds also influence their approach. (Teefee has worked as a producer on projects with Gomez, including 13 reasons why.) Teefey says fundraising is like producing. “You always want money for something that doesn’t exist yet,” she says. And she’s still producing; Wondermind to make documentary with Venus Williams about mental health in tennis.
As Teefey and Gomez continue to build Wondermind — reaching an audience of 18- to 34-year-old women, including Gomez’s 429 million Instagram followers — they aim to open deeper discussions around mental health. “I grew up in a community where you’re either ‘crazy’ — that was the term they used — or you’re not,” Teefey says. It’s a view she hopes to challenge. “We would treat every physical ailment we have. Why not take care of our minds in the same way?’
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This story was originally featured on Fortune.com