Having just launched her brand, Pestle & Mortar, on QVC, one of America’s largest selling platforms, Sonia Deasy is a lady on a mission. Her recent success in America which was received to a more than eager audience and a complete sell out in just seven minutes, is the next step in bringing about a better way of taking good care o our skin. At the core of Pestle & Mortar is an admirable value set the exemplifies simplicity, quality and a strong understanding of the less-is-more philosophy.
Sonia, who lives in Ireland founded Pestle & Mortar upon a personal need to simplify her own skincare routine and having seen and worked with many women whom, photographed by her well-regarded photographer husband Padraic, also wanted to feel good about their skin in the everyday. Just like in health and the attaining of a healthy life, it’s not about pretty packaging, although it’s pretty divine itself, Pestle & Mortar focuses on the quality of the product and the attention to detail when it comes to brand expansion and the development of each new addition to the collection. Here we chat to Sonia about her creation, how she manages it’s all and of what her top tips actually are when it comes to skincare..
Seeing a gap in the market for a simplified but high-quality skincare brand, Pestle & Mortar has quickly become a leader in the luxury cosmetics world, Sonia can you share with us how it all came to be..
Yes, I am a busy mother of five and wanted an effective skincare routine I could count on. While working alongside Padraic my international photographer husband I started to see how dry, dull and patchy his subjects’ skin looked up close. I knew there had to be a better solution. So I began to research one myself along with my sister – who just so happened to hold a degree in biochemistry.
You’ve consequently given a gift to women the world over but who exactly is your target market and has that changed as you’ve evolved?
Our target customer has been the same since we launched our very first product, skincare enthusiasts who want simple but highly effective products that they can count on.
The 18 month development phase that resulted in your first and most sought after product, the HA Pure Hyaluronic Serum (which has been deservedly referred to as ‘botox in a bottle’), must have been a tedious but eventually very satisfying first step into the industry. What challenges did you face during that initial stage of creation and how did you deal with them?
One of the main challenges was trying to find the perfect solution that I was 100% happy with. I wanted the serum to be lightweight and to instantly sink into your skin without leaving a sticky residue. On top of all that I wanted the serum to be highly effective. It was a long process to find the perfect balance.
Starting any new business is a huge risk and comes with many complications, what advice would you impart to those at the beginning of such a process?
Be prepared to work hard every single day.
You’ve noted that you’ve always worked with your husband Padraic since you joined forces in taking over his family’s photography business, how do you navigate a high-pressure working relationship with your husband and do you have any tips on working with a spouse?
Luckily our areas of expertise don't clash which really helps. I am a peoples person. I prefer getting out and meeting people while Padraic enjoys working on the brand behind the scenes.
Sonia along with building a global brand, you are also mother to five beautiful young children; where do you find the strength to balance it and remain sane in an ever demanding world?
Thankfully I have a great support structure with childcare and very strong family support.
Do you get time to yourself and what are your personal rules to getting time with your family and turning off from work?
We love what we do so we never feel the need to turn off from work. Of course, family time is important and always at the top of our list of priorities.
It’s no doubt that great makeup-free skin is becoming more and more important to people; where we used to cover up, we now seek a natural look, to which great skin is the foundation. What are your top tips to achieving that?
Double cleansing and hydration.
Double cleansing is simply cleansing your skin twice but it is a step many people ignore in their skincare routine. To reap the benefits of your skincare routine, a thorough cleanse is a must. Without a fresh palette, your favourite products simply aren’t as effective.
Keeping your skin hydrated is another top tip. Incorporate ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid into your routine. Hyaluronic Acid has got the unique biochemical property of holding water up to 1000 times its own weight. What this means is, once your face and skin has Hyaluronic Serum splashed on it, it will remain extremely well hydrated, soft and nourished. You can forget dry patchy skin and of course drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
With social media catapulting brands to a global audience and the digital age propelling growth at a rate previously impossible, it can be difficult to ensure your core values as a brand remain true and authentic to what the founding message of the company is. How do you ensure protection of the brand remains intact and is continues to be communicated appropriately?
Pestle & Mortar is lucky to have a dedicated team behind the scenes that are passionate about the brand and work hard to ensure the brand message is always protected. Padraic is the creative director of the brand and has always been passionate about making sure the brand identity and message is evident in everything we do.
With the brand growing at such an impressive rate, there’s no doubt more and more interest in your personal life. How do you navigate between the public's view of you and your own private life?
I don't really have the time to put much of my personal life on social media. With running a business and having 5 kids I am always busy. Believe it or not but my life isn't that exciting to put it on social media.
You reply on word-of-mouth as a means of marketing - for which is there clearly a lot to be said when the product is so strong. Is that something you decided form the beginning or has that happened organically?
Of course, when I create my products I want them to be the best that they can be. I want to be proud of the products I created and to be able to stand behind them 100%. Everything myself and Padraic do is with integrity. If your products are not good, generally people won't talk about them or will talk negatively about them and nobody wants that. We are very lucky to have such loyal customers who genuinely love the products and are happy to recommend them.
Over the years, between being buyer for your first clothes business and then being partner in crime with Padriac and now in growing Pestle & Mortar, you’ve travelled the globe, where is your favourite place to escape and what could you never leave home without?
I don't ever feel the need to escape, of course with Pestle & Mortar I am fortunate to get to travel around the world but I am happiest when I am at home in Kildare with Padraic and the kids. When I do leave home, I always make sure that I have a bottle of water with me to make sure I am hydrated throughout the day.
With expansion Stateside and a contract with QVC, things are moving fast for such a young company, where do you envision Pestle & Mortar in 5 years?
Yes, I am actually just back from America after our debut on QVC, it went really well and we sold out in just 7 minutes. In 5 years time, we hope to have a full skincare range and perhaps some well-being products too!
Sonia, you’re an incredibly strong woman, innovative and unparalleled in your ability to simplify a sometimes far too over-complicated industry, is there someone you turn to for advice or someone who you look to on a mentor level?
My Sister Monica. She is very intelligent. We are both very different to each other so it is great to get advice from someone with a different point of view.
You’ve changed careers paths several times, succeeding at every step but if you weren’t doing what you’re doing, where might we find you?
I love what I do now, but in another life, I would have loved to have created my own clothing label.