Interview with Celine Ivari, founder of WholyMe

Find out how scientist Celine Ivari was inspired to found pioneering pain relief business WholyMe after her mother developed an inflammatory, auto-immune condition.

Celine helped her mother through a holistic approach and started formulating natural products to support her. As a result she developed a natural balm made from pure botanicals, similar to the one her company sells today.

WholyMe’s natural products are stocked nationwide in Day Lewis pharmacies, Whole Foods, Harrods and Revital health stores.

What’s your career background?

After studying Genetics of Human Disease, I found myself in medical education for big pharma, which was enlightening. But the entrepreneurial call was strong and, together with my mother and sisters, we started Meshkati Hair Centre in London.

It’s been a journey of passion and perseverance, making it a leader in Europe. That same drive led me to establish WholyMe, where I am on a mission to transform pain relief.

What inspired you to look into pain relief?

My drive to relieve pain is deeply rooted in my own life. From a young age, helping my mother navigate the chronic pain of her autoimmune condition, massaging her aching joints with the tender hands of a child motivated by love and a budding curiosity about the human body’s wonders and woes.

Back then, I was just a kid trying to make her feel better, not fully understanding the complexities of her condition but driven by the need to help.

Years later, I faced my own battle with pain due to a herniated disc. The quick-fix solutions offered by doctors didn’t sit right with me. Intuitively, I knew there had to be a better way, so I turned to holistic methods that treated more than just the symptoms. This approach wasn’t just effective – it was empowering.

Then again, it was when we were working on the hair loss clinic that my mother had a flare up in her condition. I knew the condition well from my childhood curiosity, my studies and professional experience so really felt I could make a difference. I formulated natural products for my mother at that time.

These personal experiences with pain and healing didn’t just influence me – they laid the foundation for WholyMe. They taught me that pain relief should be about truly understanding and caring for the whole person, not just silencing symptoms. It’s this philosophy that WholyMe embodies – a commitment to compassionate, holistic care.

What surprised you most about what is conventionally available to relieve pain?

The conventional pain relief scene is quite eye-opening. It’s not just the elderly. Younger people are grappling with chronic pain more than ever, partly due to our evolving lifestyles.

The go-to solution seems to be medication which often leads to a cascade of health issues. In fact, the primary reason for chronic liver failure in the UK is Paracetamol use. This realisation spurred a need in me to advocate for more holistic and thoughtful approaches.

Why is holistic health so important? 

Holistic health is vital because it’s about treating people – not just symptoms. Pain is complex. It’s a warning sign and simply numbing it doesn’t solve the underlying issues. A holistic view helps us understand and address the root causes by considering all aspects of lifestyle and health, which I believe is the key to true healing.

How does our modern lifestyle impact our holistic health?

Our lives today are a far cry from what our bodies and minds are built for. We’re glued to screens. We eat food that’s more lab-made than home-cooked and we’re often cooped up indoors. Modern living is a recipe for chronic pain.

It’s like we’re stuck in overdrive – constant stress from trying to keep up with a world that never sleeps. And it’s not just about a stiff neck or sore back from sitting all day. It’s deeper than that. Stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, are running rampant through our bodies, pushing our pain thresholds lower, making us feel every ache more intensely.

This fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t just zap our energy – it chips away at our health, setting the stage for chronic diseases to take root. And let’s not forget the mental toll – our minds are just as frazzled as our bodies, and that’s a whole other kind of pain.

WholyMe is here because of this modern dilemma. We’re responding to the cry for help that’s echoing through our concrete jungles and digital landscapes. It’s about getting back to basics, about finding balance in a world that’s constantly tipping the scales.

What’s unique about WholyMe’s products?

WholyMe stands for genuine care and proven results. I personally ensure each product is pure and powerful, selecting only natural, high-impact ingredients. We avoid fillers and synthetics – our formulas are as clean as they are effective.

Ethical sourcing and extensive testing are at the heart of our process, guaranteeing that our community benefits from the finest, most conscientious products available.

Our vision extends further than the products. WholyMe is about fostering a deeper connection with yourself. It’s about empowering you to engage with your body’s signals, to understand them, and respond with care. With WholyMe, relief is just the beginning – it’s about embracing a lifestyle of holistic well-being.

Who is your ideal customer?

Our ideal customer is proactive about their well-being, someone who looks for effective, natural options and isn’t afraid to challenge the usual health narratives.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

The initial spread of WholyMe was organic, powered by the genuine endorsements of those who experienced the benefits of our products. As we grow, our strategic retail partnerships have brought our solutions to prestigious storefronts, like Whole Foods and Harrods, multiplying our reach and enabling us to connect with consumers who value health and efficacy.

Who inspires you?

I am lucky to be surrounded by very inspiring humans. Our advisor Dr. Mark Hyman, who is a genius in functional medicine is someone I respect hugely and find inspiring. 

Paul Polman, also an advisor, with his forward-thinking leadership at Unilever, exemplifies how businesses can and should operate with sustainability at their core, influencing my approach to responsible entrepreneurship. 

But beyond these figures, my inspiration is also deeply personal and cultural. I am continually moved by the courage of Iranian women who, in the face of immense adversity, stand undeterred, united in their quest for change, embodying the resilience and transformative power I admire.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome with WholyMe?

The toughest time with WholyMe was when things looked bleak – funds were low and I felt very alone. But I pushed through, bet everything on this one trade show and it turned things around. That was the moment that set us on a new path.

And your proudest moment?

Customer testimonials and Trustpilot reviews are my touchstones of success. They affirm the positive impact of our products on people’s lives. Earning the best-selling spot in Whole Foods was a tangible marker of our products’ efficacy and the loyalty of our customers.

What’s your vision for the future for WholyMe?

I envision WholyMe as a global leader in alternative pain management, where we continue to offer safe and effective solutions that support people’s long-term health.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

Chase a dream that’s bigger than just business. Align your work with your deepest convictions, and gather a support system that believes in your vision. Self-awareness and the willingness to seek help are your best tools for growth. Remember, it’s about making a meaningful impact, not just achieving personal success.

Find out more about WholyMe.