No. 8 is not your typical vitamin — in fact, it stands in a category all its own. An entirely new category that leans on the power of nootropics and daily mindful practices to help people live a balanced, harmonious life. Each of No. 8’s products — ‘Energy’, ‘Sleep,’ ‘Calm,’ and ‘Focus’ — are low sugar, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and have proven clinical studies behind them. Its brand promise? “Nourish the brain, fuel the soul.”
Trina Chan, cofounder & CEO of No. 8, partnered with Kaling Lim (who cofounded companies like Razer and serves as a founding investor of Lucasfilm Animation Singapore) to launch the brand, which is focused on nootropics, brain health and mental health.
Nootropics are often found as an ingredient in functional, non-alcoholic beverages as well as in the sports industry, and according to Reports and Data, it’s a market that’s projected to reach $5.32 billion by 2026. Nootropics are also hailed as a type of substance that can support cognitive performance.
Throughout Chan’s career, she has been open about her experience with anxiety, headaches and sleepless nights due to each stage of professional growth being just as physically and mentally demanding as the next. This led her to invest in her mental well-being and practice self-care rituals, which helped her identify what she needed in order to show up as her best self. Among those non-negotiable habits that set her up for success: quiet time in the morning, for journaling and meditation.
That’s part of what motivated Chan’s goal of normalizing conversations around mental health and bringing a holistic approach to the wellness industry.
No. 8 launched in October of 2021 with its first two products, Energy and Sleep, while Calm and Focus followed in November. With people experiencing brain fog post-Covid and managing to return to a productive work flow, matcha and mint flavored Focus is dominating its product range (aimed to help “Find your flow”), with Sleep as the close second (its key ingredient is melatonin and also contains Vitamin B6).
While the vitamins are supplements geared towards your particular goals, No. 8’s ethos is centered on the power and beauty of building rituals.
“With all of our messaging, we make it really clear that enjoying No. 8 is also about the routine,” Chan shares. “It’s also about asking yourself, what are the other habits you’re building around the action of taking the gummies that can foster the intended mindset, and reinforce your feeling of being calm, for example? The gummy should really only be a small component that supports you in that journey.”
She believes that mindful practices are important to live a life in harmony and balance.
When the opportunity arose, Chan was ready to develop the brand alongside Lim, to promote daily self-care in a way that celebrates their heritage. The brand name, No. 8, draws on Chinese culture, as the “8” symbolizes harmony, balance and luck, and the gummies’ flavor profiles are influenced by Asian foods and flavors that its team members grew up eating, including ginger, yuzu, lychee, and pear. Chan continues: “Also, no matter which way you slice the ‘8’, whether it’s horizontal or vertical, it’s symmetrical. And that was a great way to embody our belief in that mind and body connection.”
While the nootropic ingredients make it a functional product, No. 8’s branding also takes center stage, as a hero component.
For Chan, every branding element of No. 8 — from the elevated packaging and design to the content-rich social media posts — serves as a mechanism to surprise and delight users, and brings a sense of beauty and excitement to ritual-building.
“Good habits help set you up for success. I believe it’s the greatest form of self-love, when you actively make the decision to show up for yourself,” Chan explains.
To kick off the design process for No. 8, Chan and Lim asked 20 of their friends to show them how they store their supplements.
“We had just sent a PSA to our closest friends, asking them to send us a photo of their medicine cabinet,” Chan shares. “We promised that the photos would not be circulated, would remain anonymous, and that it would purely be for research purposes. Everyone was super open about it, which was the coolest part because we were designing for a new normal.”
Chan and Lim saw a similar pattern in the way supplements were displayed in their friends’ homes, which helped them identify an opportunity for storing vitamins: No. 8 makes it possible to display supplements in a way that gets users excited to use them, thanks to the intentional branding and premium glass bottles.
“The majority of the images we received were of clear plastic jars that were stashed away in a drawer or a medicine cabinet. When I dug in a little bit deeper, I came to understand that this was actually not a highlight in anyone’s day,” Chan continues. “That presented a really big opportunity to me, because we know that if you want to establish a good habit, you need to make that experience enjoyable. And I wanted our products to be something that people would actually enjoy having out on their kitchen counter or on their office desk. The jars are really meant to serve as a vehicle for self-care and a reminder to carve out these moments in your day just for you.”
The ‘new normal’ that Chan refers to is why it’s so critical for founders of new brands to remain ahead of the eight ball — and No. 8’s team managed to do this with flying colors.
There’s also the halo effect that comes into play.
“The halo effect of good branding is that it spurs conversation and has an opportunity to become a multiplier. So if something catches your eye on someone’s work desk or Instagram feed, chances are you’re probably going to take a photo of it, Google it or ask someone about it. The glass jars are meant to encourage people to share openly about their wellness practice and also learn about brain health and mental health, which is the core of what we’re doing.”
Chan learned about the magic of strong design and branding as a vehicle for conversation thanks to her previous role as a founding member of the Museum of Ice Cream. She had also worked on Sephora’s merchandising and product buying team prior to MOIC.
“My time at Museum of Ice Cream is really where I learned the power of brand identity and the importance of utilizing these various mediums to reinforce it. So whether it’s the green box the jars come in, or the rich printed brochure that explains the ingredients, or even the visual identity of our social media content, everything that we put forward complements the sensibility of the brand.”
Chan partnered with award-winning female-led agency Utendahl Creative to design and develop No. 8’s branding.
Standing out and being set apart from other brands was paramount to cofounders Chan and Lim.
You can say Chan’s background at Museum of Ice Cream helped inspire another fun part of the R&D process: when Chan and Lim were gathering photos from friends and were deep in the product development phase, they referred to their top secret mission as ‘confectionary apothecary’ — referencing the candy-like nature of the nootropic gummies, as well as their value as a self-care item.
“As we were starting to approach this category, one of the main concerns we had and that we were hearing from everyone is that they had pill fatigue — people were taking 10 to 12 tablets or capsules a day. That reinforced our choice to approach the gummy category, which is approachable and fun.”
Chan had known Lim, who is a mentor to Chan, for a while — they met in Singapore where they are both originally from.
“He came to me with the idea, which led me down the rabbit hole of analyzing and experimenting with nootropics,” Chan shares. “We began brainstorming all the different ways we could approach this category differently. That led to a cold outreach to Dr. Bowen Jiang and Professor Dr. Octavio Choi, the two Stanford neuroscientists on our Medical Council who have been with us since day one, from formulating all the way through to content development on mental health on brain health.”
All the ingredients and dosages are based on scientific research and medical journals, vetted Dr. Jiang and Dr. Choi.
“Our formulations are naturally-derived nootropics and the ingredients are commonly found in Ayurvedic or traditional Chinese medicine.”
Every detail in the creation of No. 8 was intentional and by design — literally.
“When people see the glass jars the gummies come in, they could be anything. We’ve had people ask whether they contain a candle or tea. This means I’ve done my job here — I’ve ensured that they’re eye catching enough that people are curious to ask about them.”
To create loyalty, No. 8 also launched a subscription model (each flavor jar contains a one-month supply of 120 gummies) and released samplers and minis, for the more ‘nootropic-curious.’ Sustainability is also a brand pillar, and subscription orders come in compostable refill bags after the first month. The durable glass jars also offer a reusability factor, for storing an assortment of items.
As a player in a ‘new normal’ of the supplements category, No. 8 strives to emphasize how the nooptropic gummies can be incorporated into one’s daily routines. “It’s about being aware of the more holistic approaches we can incorporate into our routines to help make sure we’re showing up in our best light and showing up as our best selves.”
The holistic aspect of the company is what inspires its content-rich social media posts, based on the overarching themes and notions of maintaining a positive mindset, doing away with limiting beliefs, and knowing to control what you can actually control.
Among No. 8’s ‘surprise and delight’ elements that reinforce these habits? The booklet that includes a 30-day tracker and a journal-like section to jot down your intentions and goals, as well as a desk calendar with affirmations.
“The booklet holds space for you to affirm where you want to be at the end of the jar. It holds you accountable to setting affirmations,” Chan shares. “The hope is that at the end of the month, you’re in a very different place and headspace — both physically and mentally.”
The prompt at the end of the 30 day-tracker is meant to look back on growth.
The jars themselves help spark the delight in one’s day.
“Why not have a jar on your desk, especially if you’re doing super intense work or looking at spreadsheets all day? Hopefully No. 8 brings some joy.”