Interview

Talk Shop with Terry Lee, Founder of Panacea

Terry Lee is the former Chief Operating Officer of MeUndies and the founder of new skincare brand, Panacea. In November, Terry launched the Korean-made skincare line, designed around a simplified 3-step process.

At our first Talk Shop of 2018, come talk to Terry about the challenges of building a brand from scratch and find out what he brought from his experience at MeUndies. Read more from Terry below, and if you're going to be in LA on Februrary 22, RSVP to Talk Shop.


Why did you choose to simplify your line to only three products?

We launched with  three products to pare down the multi-step skincare routine into something that is simple yet effective to start your day.

There’s so many different skincare brands and products within a given brand that we wanted to pare it down to the essentials for an effective daily routine.

“What we’ve embraced is the balance between understanding what makes us similar versus what makes us different.”

Korean skincare is all the rage, but the conversation around men’s skincare seems different in Korea than it is here. What are the challenges of creating and marketing your products to work for everyone?

We like to start from first principles, and what we’ve embraced is the balance between understanding what makes us similar vs. what makes us different. What unites us vs. what makes us unique.

While men and women have different skin types (and thus there are challenges in creating and marketing products that work for everyone), gender is only one of many factors that contributes to the uniqueness of your skin. We never thought about creating products for men vs. for women. Even when we’ve seen other brands grow successfully using this approach.

We create products that specifically cater to a unique skin type (regardless of gender), and then present it in a way that is approachable and accessible for everyone, regardless of their background.

As a Korean-American growing up in the U.S., I’ve always been fascinated with the juxtaposition between what unites us (i.e. We’re Americans.) vs. what makes us unique (i.e. I’m Korean-American.). It’s a balance we’d like to achieve, so we embrace the commonality and individuality in everyone

 Talk Shop with Terry Lee, Founder of Panacea

“I’m embracing my leadership position as the visionary for Panacea and returning to the original inspiration behind the brand. ”

You use intention as a way to guide decisions and get momentum at Panacea. Where would you like focus more intention in the upcoming year?

For context, it’s important to deconstruct intention into a more digestible concept.

We think of “intention” as making healthy decisions. It starts with taking the first step, and then the first step leads to the next. This builds the necessary momentum to consistently make healthy decisions and as a result, see the reward of those decisions.

Personally, I’m focused on consistency this year. How can I apply this filter of intention in more decisions that I make on a daily basis. We make an average of 35,000 decisions per day, and it’s impossible to make healthy decisions for every one of them. However, I’d like to focus on the most important one and make healthy decisions more consistently.

You shared your Top 5 things you’ve learned from previous jobs. What’s one thing you’ve learned since you’ve started Panacea?

The balance between gathering feedback versus maintaining an unwavering vision.

  1. When I started Panacea, I promised myself that I would seek as much feedback as possible because I had noticed many founders who have tunnel vision and ultimately, their lack of self-awareness led to their company’s demise.
  2. Recently, I learned that I optimized for gathering feedback at the expense of losing my own conviction and vision for our brand.
  3. As a result, I’m embracing my leadership position as the visionary for Panacea and returning to the original inspiration behind the brand.  
  4. Moving forward, my goal is to effectively balance gathering feedback and maintaining an unwavering vision.

You wrote a post about learning to say no. You said, “If it’s not a “FUCK YES,” then it’s a “NO.” Any recent “FUCK YES” that you’d like to share?

I haven’t had any recent, memorable “FUCK YES.” I’m reminded that in building a durable brand that you’re proud of, it’s important to say “NO” to 99% of opportunities that come your way. It’s important to uphold the integrity of the brand, especially at the earliest stages when it’s tempting to do a partnership for a revenue bump.


Chat more with Terry in person about the early stages of launching a brand. RSVP here.

When: Thursday, February 22, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Wine, cheese, and mingling at 6:30pm. Talk is at 7pm.

Where: Lumi HQ, 3828 S Santa Fe Ave, Vernon, CA 90058

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