None of us are infallible. All of us have moments of uncertainty, periods of sadness, times of self-doubt.
It’s during times like this that we look outward, casting about for good advice.
What if there was a way to get that sort of advice delivered to your phone?
As you may have already guessed, there is. It’s called Shine, and it’s a messaging service developed by Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi that, according to Lidey, “makes daily well-being accessible.”
How does it work?
In an interview with Blavity, Lidey told us, “Every single day, whether it’s across texting or Facebook Messenger or Kik, whatever messaging platform you’re on, we give you a free experience that gives you custom content every single day with how to work on yourself.”
That content, she said, “Can be anything from comparing yourself to somebody else to thinking that being confident means not being vulnerable.”
It all started for Lidey and Hirabayashi one year ago. They were co-workers at a non-profit in New York, and very quickly became friends, in part because they had a lot in common. What really cemented the friendship, however, was that Lidey and Hirabayashi found in each other someone to talk with “about the things that you’d dealt with who could just relate to you, and do it in a way that maybe you don’t have the same exact experience, but meet you where you are.”
The conversations the friends had meeting one another where they were, relating to one another encouragingly, were the genesis of Shine. The idea for the service was born when the two found themselves wishing that they had something like Shine for themselves.
Beyond being what began the service, Lidey and Hirabayashi’s friendship is at the core of what makes the messages users receive special. Lidey says the pair want to talk “to people in a way that feels like a friend,” that feels like the texts Lidey and Hirabayashi send one another.
In fact, those texts serve as a model for the texts Shine sends its users. When it came to deciding exactly how to speak to their subscribers, Lidey says, “We, authentically, just really wanted to create something in our tone for how we talk to each other, and how we text each other, just something that is not just saying, ‘You got this,’ but ‘You got this and I completely understand exactly how that feels.’”
Lidey and Hirabayashi keep that in mind in order to ensure Shine’s texts are more than bland aspirational aphorisms. The co-founders wanted the messages to actually be useful, “to help people and to solve a problem.”
They also wanted them to be relatable.
Lidey noted that in the wellness space, particularly when they were starting the company, “you saw a lot of stuff that was taking a sabbatical or just taking that two-week vacation, and that’s not always accessible to most people.”
Being relatable was key. As was not having magic solutions. Another problem Lidey observed in the wellness space is that “it’s typically been this very top-down base where you have to do yoga every day and have crystals and do green juice cleanses to want to take care of yourself, which we obviously know is not true.”
Part of the problem she says is that “it’s just typically been not diverse, and again very focused on a more privileged persona and what someone with access can do.”
To avoid those pitfalls, Lidey and Hirabayashi took a universal approach. “As opposed to trying to tackle very niche, niche issues, we tackle the big picture feelings that you’re feeling.”
This, Lidey says, has the effect of “normalizing … the things that you might feel alone in.”
How does this work exactly?
Lidey explained, “We all have different things that we’re insecure about and we feel not enough in, whether it’s our personal finance makes us feel that we’re not smart enough, or we’re not organized enough; or our boss makes us feel like we’re not on top of things enough, or good at a certain skill.”
Now, from those specific scenarios, the Shine team works to pick out “the feeling and really use tone and visualization that speaks to how it makes you feel and give you a way that address that.”
Meaning that though you might be stressed at work and I might be stressed at home, the feeling of being stressed is what we both need help with — Shine assists the stress rather than the particulars of our given situations.
Those on the receiving end of Shine’s texts have been highly appreciative of the words they’ve found on their phones. Lidey read some feedback to us; the letters she and Hirabayashi have received were full of phrases like “it’s been a true lifesaver,” “one of the best things to ever happen to me” and “when I feel alone and small in the world I hear that ding and I know that I have wisdom at my fingertips.”
Not bad, right? And this week, it was announced that the company has just received a mandate to go out and do even more good. In a funding round led by Betaworks and Eniac Ventures, Lidey and Hirabayashi raised $2.5 million to further develop Shine.
They plan to use the money “to continue to build on different conversational platforms,” like Line, WeChat and so on, and to create a product that will allow users to “get the Shine experience over voice.”
No matter how much Shine expands, however, the company will always be focused on what Lidey describes as “the things that we all kind of think we might be alone in struggling with,” helping people to realize that they are not alone, and that there is a way to improve even the most overwhelming of circumstances.
If you’d like a little improvement, a little daily dose of well-being, you can sign up for Shine here, on its website.