A New App Does Wellness The Millennial Way
Shine has expanded its motivational text messaging service with a new app, serving self-care tips with a healthy dose of reality
There’s no shortage of motivational quotes around the gentler corners of the internet, but Shine’s daily messaging service has won a legion of devoted millennial fans by serving them up alongside GIFs of Beyoncé. The goal is to lend an air of accessibility to wellness, which, despite being a booming field, still tends to conjure images of impeccably groomed people meditating on pristine mountaintops.
Last week, Shine—which has until now been accessible via SMS, Facebook Messenger and Kik—released its own app, expanding its daily text affirmations and tips to a full platform with browsable content. Monthly and annual subscriptions grant access to an interactive audio library. Users can choose to listen passively or respond to intermittent prompts as you would to a real-life therapist, with topics ranging from self-care for online dating and ‘Tinder fatigue’ to what to do about a toxic friendship.
“We know that people are talking about this behind closed doors or over happy hours, or when they’re calling their friends so stressed out, but when you see well-being in the mainstream it’s very [zen],” Shine co-founder Naomi Hirabayashi told PSFK. “What does that look like on a Monday when you’re sweating and you’re on your way to work and you’re stressed out? That’s not where you can go.”
The company is marking the app launch with a campaign that places yellow benches around New York City, in public parks and hectic locations like Times Square. Coinciding with a reported rise in stress around the holidays, the benches are equipped with an iPhone and headphones that invite passersby to take a meditative moment and explore Shine’s audio.
Shine was started in 2015 by Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey, friends who met while working at the youth-oriented volunteer and community organization DoSomething.org. “We actually scaled the organization from zero to 5 million users during our time there, primarily using text messaging. That was before bots, before messaging was cool, before Facebook Messenger was focused on all its initiatives,” Lidey said.
“We were really ahead of the game when it comes to using text messaging to engage millennials around causes they care about. So we were killing it on the career front and at the same time feeling the pressure and stress and burnout that comes with the highs and lows of our very ambitious lives, particularly in major metropolitan cities like New York.”
During that time Hirabayashi and Lidey became close, each acting as the other’s sounding board for just about everything in their careers and lives. “We talked for a long time about what would it look like to scale out our relationship? We also very much heard from friends saying, ‘I wish I had that. I wish I had a Naomi at my job who knew my credit score and my personal relationship and what was going on at work,’” said Lidey.
The result was Shine, which the pair first tried out by writing a daily text to 50 people in their circle. “We realized we had nailed the right medium and the right tone at the right time,” Lidey said.
Since then, Shine has grown to 1 million users in 165 countries and is one of the top-ranking messaging apps on Facebook—a rapid rise fueled in part by partnerships with global influencers like Lilly Singh and Becky G. Using a blend of humor and sincerity, Hirabayashi and Lidey aim to reassure each user with a mantra of ‘We’ve felt that way, too.’
The Shine app is now available for iOS with a seven-day free trial.
Lead Image: Shine co-founders Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey
A conference celebrating innovation in brand experience, retail experience and consumer culture.