For the latest episode of Leading From Home (#LFH), our weekly Instagram Live series focused on how brand leaders are navigating the current climate, senior reporter Liz Flora spoke with Indie Lee, founder and CEO of her namesake skin-care company.
Lee joined the Live segment from her family’s home in Westchester County, New York. She’s been quarantining there for the last seven weeks, along with her kids, home from high school and college, and her 9-year-old goddaughter, who she’s been homeschooling.
“That’s been challenging,” she said, regarding stepping in as teacher. “I’m not the expert on third-grade math.”
Indie Lee, which launched in 20o9, is currently sold in retailers including Sephora, Ulta and Credo. Currently, the brand is focused on direct-to-consumer sales, and surprisingly, Lee said, it’s seeing a significant increase in average order value. The reason: Skin-care customers are adding on products in the wellness and self-care categories, like the Sleep Body Oil and the Meditation Facial Mist.
In mid-April, the company launched one-one-one virtual consultations via Zoom to help customers figure out what products are best for them.
“The beauty industry is one of the most nimble in how we’ve adjusted to this,” she said.
Below are more highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
The importance of mindfulness:
“It’s so important, especially in this time, that we talk about what mindfulness is. It’s so much more than just meditating; it is really about cutting off that conversation that’s sometimes in our head, especially when there’s so much anxiety, and being mindful about the company we keep and who we follow on Instagram. We really need to make sure we’re keeping our immune system boosted and being mindful, and taking care of one’s self is part of that. We shouldn’t see self-care as self-indulgent. And keeping your spirits high is certainly a part of your immune system. We know stress is a killer.”
The rise of clean beauty:
“People are realizing how important their health is. They’re starting to be online and watch more, and realize, ‘Wow, not only do I need to be mindful about what I’m putting in my body, but I need to be mindful about what I put on my body.” They want empowerment and they want information, and they’re certainly starting to think about what their health and their self-care rituals look like. We’re seeing significant growth in this category, because people are more educated. Clean beauty is no longer a trend, and it’s no longer a movement; it’s here to stay. I look forward to the day where we’re not segregating clean beauty from beauty — it’s just beauty. But right now, we need to call it out and differentiate it, because there is a difference.”
Managing a remote team:
“My team is on overdrive right now. There has been no lull [in business], and our days are longer because we’re at home and we’re not commuting — shame on us. But my team knows they need to make their health a priority. We grounded travel and closed the office early on. This brand was built on inspiring people to take care of themselves — that’s the core of why I started the brand 11-plus years ago. So it’s important that we’re all working from home and staying safe and staying connected. We’ve done the happy hours, we’re doing team meetings. I’d never been on a Zoom for seven-and-a-half hours, but we did it [for a team meeting]. We took breaks, and one of our managers who’s a yogi led a stretching session, and it was a blast.”
The current benefits of being an indie brand:
“We can be nimble; we grew up a little scrappier. If we want to change what we’re doing on social, then OK. Let’s wipe the slate clean; we can do that. It’s harder if you have many different layers and different approval processes to get something done. But I’ll just get on the phone, and we’ll say we’re going to do something, and we’ll figure it out. Within a week of deciding to do our new masterclasses, we already had two scheduled, then within two days, they sold out. People are interested in rituals now: gua sha, dry brushing, morning routines. People want to be a part of the classes, and they’re working to [fuel] all these great conversations.”