Today’s episode is a big one. Not only are we sitting down with David Chung, founder of Farmacy Beauty and CEO of iLABS, but this release also marks the 50TH EPISODE of our Earned podcast!
Before we dive into the episode, we wanted to take a moment to express our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has supported the show and contributed to its success. When we launched the Earned podcast back in April of 2020—right after the world turned upside down—we had no idea what to expect. We’ve been blown away by the kind words and positive feedback, and we’re so excited to celebrate this 50th episode milestone with you all. To our incredible podcast guests: thank you for sharing your stories with us, and for becoming part of ours. And to our loyal listeners: thank you for tuning in and helping this little experiment grow into the show it is today. We couldn’t have done it without you.
To celebrate, we’re giving away $100 to 50 listeners! Enter the raffle here.
Okay, now back to business! To start the episode, David walks us through his impressive entrepreneurial journey, and we hear how his frustrations with third-party contract manufacturers led him to launch OEM and ODM manufacturing company Englewood LAB, which he took public and sold in 2018. David then shares why he wanted to shift his focus to brand building with the launch of Farmacy Beauty, before revealing how he again ran into similar manufacturing issues, leading him to launch innovation-focused, full-service manufacturing company iLABS.
We then discuss the importance of building strong relationships both personally and professionally, and David explains why he values a company’s reputation over revenue. Next, we talk about the factors that contributed to the success of Farmacy Beauty, a brand at the forefront of the clean beauty movement which was recently acquired by P&G. We then dive into iLABS, with David sharing how it’s different from Englewood LAB, and why the focus is on R&D and innovation and helping small businesses grow. To close the show, we talk about the brands David has in incubation right now, and where he’s seeing pockets of demand and opportunity in the space.
The following interview has been lightly edited for concision.
Why David Prioritizes Relationships and Reputation Over Revenue
Conor Begley: When my co-founder Jon and I met with you, one of the things you said that really stood out was that whenever you would talk to me, I would want Jon to be involved because we’re business partners. You thought that was really important. Obviously over the last 30 years, you've had a lot of long-term relationships, whether in business or personal. Why do you think that’s an important concept?
David Chung: Well, I think relationships in any capacity are so critical in life and business, especially business. People ask me, “David, how did you become successful in a lot of ways?” I tell them that all along the way, I was so blessed that I was surrounded by great people who really put me on the map. Of course, I worked hard and I did all the right things. But at the end of the day, it was the relationships and people that really helped me grow.
I think when I see you and Jon, it’s like Batman and Robin, where you guys really built a relationship and that's how you guys are growing. I think it’s the same for me. I did not have a partner, I was by myself, but it was the people. At Englewood Lab, the people introduced me to other people who gave me purchase orders of millions of dollars. For Farmacy too, having a team and creating a team who's very passionate and dedicated, and having a relationship with this team, really made the brand successful. I mean, I do some [work], but these are the people who really made the company successful.
And what's important is, how do you really respect them and make them feel part of the family and part of the success? How do you give back to those people? I think that's the key. When I look back on all the business that I have done and the main reasons that it was successful, I think it's the reputation. It's all about reputation. I give lectures to my team here, at the town halls, and I say there's three important things in my company: it's not revenue, it's not profit, it's about reputation, reputation, and reputation. That's all I'm looking for from my people. In every capacity—people walking into the lobby all the way through to when they leave. Just the reputation of how we do things in this company. I tell [my team], once you do that, trust me, business will be there and money will come. Don't worry about the money. Don't worry about the revenue. It will just come naturally once you have that. That's my philosophy, and that has always been my approach to life.
You can watch the entire interview here, or listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. To catch up on our other 49 episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Milk Makeup, Gymshark, Gucci, and Summer Fridays, visit our Earned Podcast page. And don't forget to enter our celebratory raffle for the chance to win $100. Cheers to the next 50!