The day we met Indie Lee at No.11 Spa
If you don’t know who Indie Lee is, let me paint you a picture.
It’s Wednesday 18 September 2019 and we’ve been invited to attend an exclusive masterclass at No.11 Spa with its effervescent owner Jill Palmer, and the irrefutable queen of clean beauty, Indie Lee.
And exclusive it was. We arrived early to get a briefing from the cool cats at Not Your Standard Agency and were met by an intimate display of carefully curated place settings complete with individual gift bags, tasting plates from Mise en Place, pink bubbles (naturally), and last but not least the warming smile of Indie Lee.
As guests began to arrive, we were ushered into the back to a cosy corner where we sat down with Indie.
“Get your affairs in order and spend as much time with your children as you can.” Is where the story starts.
It was a cold November morning in 2008 and she had just been given 6 months to live.
“They told me I had a brain tumor. I was 37. I was careful about what I ate – everything was organic, I even had a greenhouse where I grew starter plants for our local Whole Foods! I couldn’t understand how this was happening to me”, explains Indie Lee (her real name is Lisa but we’ll get to that later). She turned to her doctor for answers and while he couldn’t tell her exactly what caused it, he asked her one life-changing question: “What do you put on your skin?”
“The truth was I had no idea what I was putting on my skin – if it came in a pretty box, I had to have it,” she reflects. And it was at this point that she made a date with destiny. “I promised myself then and there that if I survived the surgery, I would make it my mission to educate and empower others to live their healthiest life through natural skincare.”
Indie woke from surgery on April 22, 2009 (Earth Day! Hello?! Could the universe make it any clearer??) and got straight to work. “The surgeon took my hand and told me they were able to get everything. This was the first day of the rest of my life”.
“Indie Lee is about empowerment, education and healthy living. It’s about creating a community of like-minded individuals on the same journey of change,” says Indie. “I wanted the brand to represent my new journey in life, declaring my independence, my strength and optimism.” And with that, ‘Indie Lee’ (INDIEpendent Lisa) was born.
Committed to bringing positive change to the wellness community (her collection of clean beauty products are formulated with high concentrations of skin-safe bioactive enzymes and cultures), Indie Lee’s eco-chic collection epitomizes green glamour.
TB – We’re all about sustainable beach lifestyle and our readers are either living on a beach, dreaming of a beach or vacationing on a beach. Whilst we love the sun, the climate here is hot and humid. What tips do you have for maintaining healthy skin in this environment?
IL – Clean, reef-safe sunscreen is number one and I’m really big on physical blockers like hats, big glasses and clothing that offers UV protection. Hydration from within is also super-important – wine and caffeine don’t count! I’m talking about water and consuming fruit and vegetables that are high in fluids.
In terms of what you can put on your skin, non-pore clogging oils are phenomenal. Three words: squalane face oil! It comes from olives, it’s easily absorbed and great for skin elasticity and tone.
Using products rich in antioxidants is another easy win. You have a lot of environmental stressors going on here – the sun, free radicals, air-conditioning – that’s a huge dehydrator! Our CoQ-10 toner is great for hydrating and rebalancing the skin. It has aloe, papaya, sage and of course, antioxidant CoQ-10. I use it every morning as a skin refresher but you can also use it as a setting spray and it’s great for travel or a post-work out spritz, especially if you don’t have time to cleanse right away! For an extra boost, I pair this with the Daily Vitamin Infusion face oil. It’s packed full of vitamin C and is great for soothing and brightening the complexion.
TB – Indie Lee is clean, green and cruelty-free. What other commitments have you made to the environment?
IL - We use glass bottles and jars where possible and our packaging uses FSC-certified paper. We are Leaping Bunny certified and we do not purchase from suppliers who are unable to prove they are cruelty-free as well.
TB – Indie Lee has successfully combined style and sustainability. We’re totally inspired by what you’ve done! For all the budding entrepreneurs out there, how do you go from having an idea to turning it into a globally recognized brand?
IL- It’s about doing what you’re truly passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it, you won’t have the strength to deal with set-backs. I started by making products in my kitchen! I was often told “no” but I knew this was a calling and not about putting products on a shelf so when people said I couldn’t, it became my mantra to show them I could.
You also have to believe that what you are doing is right. Ask yourself, is it right for the planet? Is it right for people? Indie Lee is about education and empowerment. I wanted to give people another option for what they put on their skin.
Know what you know, know what you don’t know. Surround yourself with the smartest people in the areas that you don’t know. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. I ask for help all the time!
Be honest, be transparent, be vulnerable. Allow yourself to take criticism so that you can learn and improve. That’s been the recipe of success for this brand. That, and my team! I couldn’t live without them.
Seek investors that share your philosophy. Indie Lee was self-funded in the early stages but I knew I couldn’t do it all and I would need outside investment. And because we have an investment team who’s philosophy is aligned with ours, we are fortunate to be in a place where the mission is really what moves us forward and not the bottom line.
TB - How did you juggle family and how did you move things out of the kitchen and onto the world stage?
IL - There’s no such thing as work/life balance. Sometimes it’s 80% family and 20% work and sometimes it’s 100% work and my family has to figure it out. I do my best.
Building a business is not easy and there’s no surefire way to know it will succeed. I had 8 years of no paycheck! But, I gave it my all and have been rewarded with a phenomenal team and a wonderful business that I am passionate about.
All I can say is live your best life. Be present, live with passion, live with purpose and enjoy every minute. Sometimes life gives you lemons and you have the opportunity to make Limoncello. Go for it!
The Beach would like to say a huge thank you to the exquisite No.11 Spa for hosting the Indie Lee masterclass and to the ever-glamourous gals at Not Your Standard Agency for organising such a chic event. We’re inspired!
In celebration of green glamour, No.11 Spa is offering a 10% discount on all Indie Lee products until the end of the month. To hear more top beauty tips and be the first to know about new events, sign up to their Beauty Insiders mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org