Indie Lee on Embracing Your Natural Beauty and Living Your Best Life
They say starting a business is challenging, filled with sleepless nights and taking lots of risks. And for Indie Lee, founder of clean skincare brand Indie Lee, all of that was true — especially because she was launching a brand amid a brain tumor diagnosis and a prognosis of six months to live. Ahead, she shares how her brand became her life’s mission and how to tap into your own power to live your best life, plus advice for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs.
What’s your backstory? How did you get inspired to start a clean beauty business?
When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008, I was given six months to live. When you’re given six months to live, you can be very exact with how you want to spend your time. For me, it was pouring myself into a space I felt passionate about. So, in order to stay busy and positive when my kids were at school or I wasn’t out searching for a doctor that could give me a different prognosis, I researched and studied skincare and the beauty industry.
What were some hardships — aside from your health problems — that you faced when launching your brand?
For me, ignorance was bliss and no wasn’t an option. If someone said no, I took that as, ‘no for now, not forever.’ And although my story drew people in, I still needed the products to work. It's great if you have a story, but if your products don't work, you won’t sell through. I didn’t have any money, though, so I sold all of my jewelry, emptied my 401k and went into significant credit card debt. I was all in. I thought that if I could create change and empower others to live their best lives, even if it had nothing to do with skincare, then I felt that I lived for a reason.
Do you have any advice for someone getting into the beauty industry?
It takes hard work. I don't believe in the word failure — I think of it as a learning opportunity. So, as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have a lot of learning opportunities that don’t feel comfortable or that make you feel scared. Lean into that. Use it as a catalyst to level up and you’ll be fine. I want people to realize that you need to be passionate and love what you do. If you're doing it because it's your mission and know it in your heart, nothing will derail you. If it’s what you really want to do, no one can discourage you.
How do you stay so grounded? Do you have a mindfulness routine?
I’m a mindful mama and five AM club member! I meditate every morning and night. I believe that if you take the time for your own education and personal development, you fill your own cup — which is essential before you can fill others’. Because of what I went through, I have a very different perspective on what a bad day is, so when I have a bad day, I accept it for being just a bad moment in time and don’t let it define me.
How do you feel about the skinimalism, no-makeup makeup trend?
I love makeup because I think it’s a form of art and self expression. But, I don’t wear much. I don’t wear foundation even though I have hyperpigmentation, which is okay. I mean, I took chemo for four years! I have fine lines because I laugh and I’m expressive. That’s okay! It only adds character. I want people to love who they are for what they are. We’re all perfectly imperfect. When we can come from a place of love, makeup and anything that follows is just icing on the cake. Embrace who you are. Wear what makes you feel good.
What’s your skincare routine like?
In the morning, I don’t always wash my face. But when I do, I use the Indie Lee Soothing Cleanser. Then I use the CoQ-10 Toner and follow up with our Stem Cell Serum, the Daily Vitamin Infusion and Eye Cream. It sounds like a lot but I’m usually done in under five minutes. At night, I use our Purifying Face Wash and an exfoliator before putting on serums, eye cream and a moisturizer.
Do you have any advice — beauty or non beauty — for your younger self?
Don’t be a passenger in your own life, be the driver. I didn’t learn that until the day I was diagnosed. Own your own life, embrace your authentic self, take your own risks, and make your own choices. Every single day is a gift and tomorrow isn’t promised.