As an Armenian woman, I am nothing short of obsessed with Teni Panosian. She’s my version of the American dream, wrapped in the silhouette of a familiar face, one that I can relate to because it reflects my own immigration story. For the last 8 years, she’s been creating beauty, style, home, and travel content on her YouTube and Instagram channels, showing the world how strong, intelligent, and fearless women can be. Now, she’s taken to a new calling: founder. Teni’s passion for animal rights advocacy and love of beauty has blended together into her new skincare line, Monday Born.
Taking into account the needs of her fanbase, clean beauty standards, and her own skin issues, she formulated the dream product, a non-irritating resurfacing treatment featuring 5% vegan lactic acid and a high 10% load of soothing niacinamide to improve skin tone, fine lines, dark spots, dryness, and more. We interviewed Teni Panosian about the beginnings of Monday Born, her love of vegan beauty products, and she hopes life improves post-pandemic.
1) How did Monday Born Beauty come to life?
With a lot of self-scrutiny and critical thinking, ha! There are a lot of influencer born brands out there, and I knew if I was ever going to move into the product space, it would have to be different with a very specific value proposition. It was only when I knew I could make good on that mission that I decided it was time to go for it.
2) What is different about Monday Born’s products?
I was fortunate enough to team up with the best in product development, specifically when it comes to the highest quality ingredients and most advanced formulation. Our skincare products will all be developed and formulated in Korea, where skincare is about 10 years ahead of the western market. The things I’ve learned from our chemist and lab professionals in such a short time is positively mind-blowing. Our first product, Rebirth, has just 24 ingredients (and is extremely clean by EWG standards) and outperforms any other retexturizing product I’ve used. Something else that’s different about our products, however, is that they’re made with our community’s input.
As we began formulating Rebirth, we turned to my YouTube and Instagram audience to ask what ingredients people were sensitive or allergic to, what their likes and dislikes were in a serum, (fragrance-free, sensitive skin-friendly) and even consulted with them on the packaging design. I really believe it was that unique collaboration that produced one hell of a first product! Beyond that, the community is at the center of everything we do; we have what I like to call our little “inner circle” run by three moderators that rotate out quarterly. (We call them our “Monday Board.”)
They upload thought starters, polls, and other original content alongside myself and our community weighs in with their thoughts and opinions. We talk about everything from skincare to mental health, gut health, and teeth whitening… just anything related to lifestyle and wellness. It’s one of the more exciting aspects of this brand because it truly encourages togetherness at a time when we can’t really be together.
3) Why do you like using vegan beauty products?
It’s just a step in the right direction as responsible humans. Our habits won’t change overnight, but it’s been nice seeing an overwhelming trend toward vegan beauty. It says a lot for how far we’ve come with technology, too. I look forward to seeing it become the norm!
4) How are you revamping your business model to fit with the current time?
The timing of our launch was actually impeccable. Just as we saw retail seriously disrupted by a global pandemic, we began using the drop model. Pandemic or not, this was our business model. We’ve seen drops in fashion, most especially in sneaker culture, but we’re one of the first, if not the first, to do it in beauty. It’s not only more environmentally sustainable, (producing only what we sell; no big purchase orders that sit in a warehouse) but it allows us as a brand to keep our pricing lower and gives us the flexibility to get creative with how we interact with our customers.
5) How has being indoors changed your work/life balance?
I’ve always worked from home, so it hasn’t really changed my workflow very much. But not being able to enjoy outings has taken a toll on my mental wellness. I have to admit it’s been nice not to feel pressured to go out on the weekend, but not having a choice is kind of messing with my head!
6) Give us a rundown of your current day to day.
At the moment, my product development counterpart is in Korea. She’s been there for about 6 weeks now, so our meetings have been starting at around 8a PST. We typically start with a 90-minute video call with the 5 people on my team, and depending on what we discuss that day I usually have a cute list to tackle after! Collecting content is a standard part of my day, too, because I like sharing a lot of behind the scenes of what’s been going into the making of Monday Born as a company. Since I can’t work with other people in a physical capacity, for the time being, I’m pretty much creating most of the marketing assets. I have a home studio where I shoot photos and videos, so that’s been a big advantage at a time like this.
I have a wonderful social media coordinator, Daisy, who does a great job handling most of our Instagram presence. She and I work closely throughout the day via Slack. Speaking of Slack, I am GLUED to it both on my desktop and my phone! I’m constantly communicating with my team there. In the midst of all this, I do take quick, frequent breaks because my attention is just better in shorter bouts. During breaks, I’ll have a snack, read an article or two, clean up around the house, and water my tree!
7) What advice do you have to business owners about adjusting to life during COVID-19?
I would say now is a great time to re-evaluate your model. It’s a stressful time for everyone, but the most positive outcome can come from taking this time and seeing how you can adjust your operation to become better equipped to handle something like a COVID-19. In general, it’s caused a lot of reflecting, which isn’t a bad thing. I think it’s also about understanding that it’s simply going to be an uphill battle for a while for all of us. This was a huge reality check. I think the best thing to do moving forward is to really have a rainy day plan. None of us expected something like this to happen but, alas, it did.
8) What do you hope the pandemic changes for the better?
I hope this forces us to take a good look at how we consume and how we abuse our natural resources. This is a great opportunity to simplify, decrease excess, and just make us a little more careful about how we interact with the planet.
9) What is next for Monday Born?
Well besides a product 2 launch coming very soon, (yay!) our goal is to continue growing our community. For us it’s not just about products; there’s a much bigger mission that will become more and more prevalent as we continue to grow, but it’s all about encouraging our community to shed the pressures of looking perfect and airbrushed. Our current campaign centers around the hashtag #unfilteredskin, where we challenge people to really wear their best skin and understand that everyone’s best will look different. It’s high time we gave ourselves permission to live a life unfiltered, am I right?