When Mina Chae, CEO of Farmacy, first joined the farm-to-face skin-care brand five years ago as director of marketing and consumer engagement, the team was small — so much so that she had to help box up influencer mailers and even drive to the warehouse to pack shipments during Black Friday shopping.
Farmacy was founded in 2016 and was acquired by P&G for an undisclosed sum at the end of 2021. The acquisition coincided with the appointment of Chae as CEO of Farmacy. Chae stepped into the CEO role in January after previously holding the role of vp of marketing and consumer engagement. Now as CEO, her plans are to increase brand awareness, including through more advertising and marketing with out-of-home advertising and the Farmacy’s first-ever pop-up in April.
“When I first started, I was responding to all of the DMs in the [Instagram] comments myself. I would stay up all night reading all of the reviews, and I still stay up all night reading all of the reviews,” Chae said on the latest episode of the Glossy Beauty podcast. “That puts me in a unique perspective, because I am connected to the consumer. My goal as CEO is to continue that [relationship].”
Chae spoke to Glossy further about her transition to the CEO role, her plans to boost brand awareness and the brand’s focus on sustainability moving forward. Below are excerpts from the conversation, which has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
On the transition from marketer to CEO
“Being a marketer [means] I always think about the consumer; I’m obsessed with the consumer, and I’m consumer-centric. That’s how I see my role as CEO. My responsibilities have obviously expanded, but my approach is exactly the same. It’s to really think about the consumer: Are we meeting the expectations of our consumers? Do they love our products? Do they love what we stand for as a brand? Is every interaction with the brand a positive one? It’s through the marketing role — where I’ve seen and spoken with consumers and seen how they connect with the brand because of our values — that has shaped my perspective as CEO.”
Showing up in ways that matter
“Consumers have so much choice. If I’m on Instagram, within a five-minute period, I’ve just seen 10 new serums I need to try, six skirts and five jackets that I didn’t know ever existed that I need to add to cart. I never want to forget that, every single time a consumer adds a Farmacy product to their cart or to their basket, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege… We’re finding ways to make our interaction with the consumer less transactional. It’s not only about driving brand awareness, but it’s also about brand engagement. That includes our pop-up in April, but we’re also thinking outside the box, beyond beauty. [That includes possibly doing] a pop-up dining experience with select partners, because Farmacy stands for supporting the community, being as sustainable as we can be, and being mindful of ingredients and our skin and our bodies.”
What clean beauty means today
“Clean beauty is a nebulous term. And as a result, it sometimes doesn’t mean much to consumers. When Farmacy first started six years ago, clean beauty was new. It was a way to define your brand. Clean now is table stakes. It’s like free shipping — you only notice when it’s not there. When a consumer says they want clean, it just means they want formulas they can trust, and they want transparency and accountability. It’s about being really honest about what you use in your ingredients, why you choose to use an ingredient or why you choose not to use an ingredient.”