How a Cancer Diagnosis Became the Inspiration Behind a Natural Beauty Brand

An interview with the founder of Indie Lee Natural Beauty brand

We chat with founder and creator of natural beauty brand Indie Lee.

At the age of thirty-six in 2008, Lisa Swengros, accountant, wife and mother of two children who are now twelve and fifteen, received horrifying news; she had a rare brain tumour and was given a life expectancy as short as six months.

The tumour was; according to her many doctors, not cancerous, but environmentally derived. Lisa was dumbfounded by the idea, that the environment had given her a brain tumour.

Although she lived a fairly healthy and organic lifestyle, always mindful of what she was eating, at the time she was diagnosed, Lisa; (who has now legally changed her name to Indie Lee), hadn’t realised she was putting on her skin was equally as important as what she was eating for good health.

“So many of us labour over what ingredients we put inside our bodies, without even sparing a thought about what we are putting on our bodies. And while many woman do question the product labels and the concoction of chemical ingredients inside them, we seldom realise the impact of using these products. I was one of those women – once.” She says.

Indie Lee
The first thing Lee did when she arrived back home after her diagnosis was to toss out multiple garbage bags full of lotions and potions made from all sorts of unknown ingredients. Out went the perfumes, the fancy face creams, and luxury body lotions – without question.

By 2009, she underwent a life-changing surgery, and was told she would only have a fifty per cent survival chance. Not only was the surgery successful and the tumour was gone, Lisa also gained a new perspective on life.

Whilst recovering, Lisa started a lifestyle blog called ‘Independent Lisa’ – the stepping stone to her new life and her new beauty brand Indie Lee. She even legally changed her name to match her new life, her new purpose.

Indie Lee
After changing her name to Indie Lee, Indie felt her life finally had a purpose. She knew who she was at 30, but she loved herself at 40 and decided to live her life by the three P’s: Purpose, Passion and being fully Present.

With a new awareness of beauty and skincare, Lisa (now Indie Lee) left her life of accounting, in order to pursue her dream of creating a natural skincare brand. She consulted dermatologists, acupuncturists, and holistic doctors, then teamed up with a chemist who was aligned with her chemical-free vision for beauty.

Her American-made eponymous line, which recently relaunched this year with new packaging, is a collection of all-natural, eco-friendly, FDA-approved skincare products that are void of chemicals, toxins, and anything synthetic. And you can pronounce the name of all the ingredients in her products.

Indie Lee coconut citrus scrub
The product which kick-started her dream of having her own natural beauty brand was the Coconut Citrus Body Scrub RRP $58

“I like bath scrubs, but they’re all oily, and that is a complete hazard for me in my tub. Coconut oil is solid in room temperature, so I made it with that as the main oil so you could tip that jar over and it wouldn’t spill.“ She says.

The scrub, made sugar instead of salt, as salt is to drying, and lemon balm which is very soothing and used to treat eczema has recently been re-packaged into an even easier-to-use squeezable tube (soon to be released in Australia).

“Now my skincare routine is kept to my products. I cleanse in the shower in the morning. I use a toner, a stem cell serum and our radiance renewal peel pads” she says.

Indie hopes to build her platform, continuing to roll out more products and starting mainstream conversations on the importance of using natural ingredients in skincare, health and wellness products. Like her all-natural Brightening Cleanser, which is made with sunflower and coconut oil and strawberry seed oil, all of which gently cleanses the skin, leaving it clean and clear.

Beauty Columnist Rebecca Wilkinson reviews the cleanser below:

Indie Lee brightening cleanser
My Favourite Indie Lee Beauty Product right now:
Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser RRP $49

The lemonade-like sweet fragrance of this cleanser reminds me of a summer cocktail spritz on a balmy evening. I love using this cleanser because it tingles slightly letting me know it is cleansing all the dirt, grime and foundation from my pores and my skin feels soft and supple after using it.

This is the cleanser I use for my oily days. Its formulation is gel, but unlike some gels cleansers where the gel is sticky and heavy, this cleanser is light and airy which feels great on the days my skin feels heavy and oily.

I cleanse twice before showering for a deep cleanse as foundation often gets stuck in my pores throughout the day, which only adds to my oil issues. I use a generous amount first up to remove my foundation and any other products like moisturizer, serum and oil I have on underneath, then wash off using warm water.

I then apply again, but a smaller amount and massage deep into the pores to ensure the gel sinks deep into the skin layers and use circular motions to clear out pores. I wash again with warm water and viola. Clean and glowing skin.

Rebecca Wilkinson

Beauty Editor

Rebecca is a freelance content creator and beauty editor for Bondi Beauty. She is a pescatarian, who may yet become vegan. She loves all things beauty, health & travel, has a weakness for coffee and is obsessed with cats and yoga. If she's not answering her mobile - it's probably because she's trying out the latest beauty trend, like massaging crushed pearls into her skin for the ultimate collagen and vitamin boost to skin cells.

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