Welcome to the next instalment of the #beautyinsider Q&As, where you can read about how beauty experts got into their field of work. This month’s guest is Sonia Deasy, Co-Founder of Pestle & Mortar which combines high performance active ingredients with nourishing natural extracts to offer a simple yet effective skincare routine. I’d never heard of this Irish vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand until I read about it in Caroline Hirons’ Skincare book and reviewed the impressive NMF Lactic Acid Toner as part of my Veganuary product line up. Then the brand cropped up again in conversation with a colleague who met Sonia during his QVC days so I thought it was time to find out more about this award-winning skincare range and its co-founder. Read on to find out about the inspiration behind the brand name and what a weekend with 5 children looks like.
1. Hi Sonia, thank you for being my Insider Q&A guest this month. Let’s start from the beginning: every beauty brand has a story, what’s Pestle and Mortar’s?
I worked alongside my husband for years in our high-end portrait photography business. During that time, I noticed that a lot of models suffered from dry, flaky, or dull skin. Their daily skincare routines were complicated, and just not working. At the time, Hyaluronic Acid was the latest trend in skincare. It’s an ingredient that draws water into the skin – a hero-hydrator. I started testing Hyaluronic Serums on myself to see if they worked, but I didn’t like how they felt sticky and tacky on my skin. I’ve always been really fussy about how creams feel on the skin, the texture, the experience. It was frustrating – I just wanted a simple daily routine that would make my skin look and feel its best. And products that I enjoyed using. So I decided to create a no-fuss range of clean skincare products that people could trust. I drew on my heritage in Indian Natural Healing and developed a range of skincare that is easy to understand, simple to use, and highly effective.
2. I always find the inspiration behind a brand name intriguing – how did the name Pestle & Mortar come about?
It came about one night as I sat at the kitchen table with my husband and children. The business of naming my brand was as important to me as naming one of my children! That particular night, in the midst of yet another ‘what should I name this business?’ discussion, my eye was drawn to the pestle & mortar that lives on my kitchen counter top. I shouted ‘Pestle & Mortar!’ I wanted the name of my business to reflect my own motivations – namely simplicity, natural solutions and a less-is-more philosophy. Natural healing principles were instilled in myself and my siblings from a young age – whenever there was an ailment in my family, my father remedied it naturally. My grandfather was the medicine man in his village in India and this tradition of natural healing has continued in my family for six generations – my uncle practices today in the same spot in the same village as my grandfather did. A pestle and mortar is an implement used since ancient times to grind medicines and food. It is a simple yet highly effective device that has withstood the test of time. The perfect name for my business and a reflection of the fact that I want to build a lasting beauty brand. A 100-year-old Pestle & Mortar that my forefathers used to grind medicines sits pride of place in our offices in Naas to remind me of this every day.
3. You share some great sustainability commitments on your site. Which ones should we keep an eye out for most imminently?
We’ve lots in the pipeline right now and it’s exciting to see it happening. We’re continuously updating our packaging elements to make everything even more sustainable and easier to recycle – and we’re intent on bringing our customers with us as we journey towards sustainability, educating them and empowering them to choose greener lifestyle options. We launched the Empties Bag earlier this year and it’s been a phenomenal success – it’s a beauty laundry system that you can use to recycle your product containers responsibly. Our customers are amazing – they guide our initiatives and support us every step of the way.
4. As founder of Pestle & Mortar, what so far has been your proudest career moment?
I was shortlisted as an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist in 2019. It was a massive honour – we were the only contender in the beauty space and I was amongst Ireland’s most successful business people across many diverse sectors. I was proud of how far we had come in less than 5 years and I felt as though Pestle & Mortar was being heard in a crowded marketplace.
5. Insider news please! What natural skincare trends do you think we should look out for?
We’ll be seeing more and more people embrace their skin’s natural texture and adopting minimalistic skincare routines – I believe the term that’s being used is ‘skinimalism’! Basically, skincare shouldn’t be complicated. We’ll see people embracing less makeup, and showcasing their natural skin instead, and using smarter, harder-working products that minimize the number of steps in their daily routine.
6. And finally – what do you get up to in your spare time?
I’m very much a homemaker and Mum in my spare time. With five children, home is busier than work! On weekends, you’ll find me cooking, operating Mum’s taxi, and visiting my parents. I’m lucky that I live on the Curragh so I’ll always get a nice walk in too.
If you have any burning questions you’d like to ask Sonia why not leave a comment below? Or you can get in touch with her directly on Instagram.