When Sonia Deasy spoke at the Arnotts Beauty Panel back in January I was instantly impressed with her passion for both her product and the details of their Pure Hyaluronic Serum. I purchased the serum that very day and it has become one of my holy grail products (not a term that I use lightly!) that I use both morning and evening and have noticed such a fantastic difference in my skin.
Sonia thank you so much for being interviewed for Floralesque, I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy day! To get us started can you please tell us a little about the origin of the brand and where it all started.
Well our background is actually in portrait photography as my husband and I own a portrait studio in County Kildare. We spent years travelling around the world giving keynotes speeches and speaking on photography and it was while we were travelling that I really noticed how the photographers prep the model’s skin before a shoot.
Many of the model’s had their skin prepped with some Hyaluronic acid before any photos were taken and this had a great impact on the skin. At that time I was around 35/36 and was interested about the cosmetic impact of this, at that stage I was not looking for an anti-aging answer.
I began to research everything I could about Hyaluronic acid and I also turned to my sister who is a biochemist for help. She advised me about the ingredient and that it really does work, and had been around for a number of years at that stage.
Another thing that kept coming up when we were photographing models was that their top skin concern was dehydration and dryness. It was aging – it was dehydrated skin and well that can make you look older but that is the side effect. I quickly realized that there could be a way to solve this and Pestle & Mortar was born.
Wow – that is so interesting and I understand that Pestle & Mortar is also a family business. How important is it to you to keep it a family business?
My husband and I run the business and although my sister advised us in the beginning she is not involved. We now work with a laboratory in Ireland for development. Family is so important to me and I have always worked with my husband. It really links back to our values and philosophies – we want to produce high quality products and for the business to stay in the family.
So is all the development and manufacturing done in Ireland?
All the research and product development is done in Ireland and we have full control over that. There is only one product that is not made in Ireland and that is the serum which is made in Asia to our very specific requirements. All of the other products are made in Ireland.
Personally I have used the Pure Hyaluronic Serum since January and have noticed such a difference in my skin – especially around my eye area. Is there a specific way that I should be applying it?
You can rub it in an upwards motion or you can pat it in. There is no wrong way to apply it – the only thing that you need to be certain of is that you skin is clean. You must cleanse well before using the Hyaluronic Serum but apart from that just put it on.
I understand that you are coming to market with a brand new product. Can you tell us a bit about it?
We are bringing out a Superstar retinol night oil. It is made of 12 pressed, organic oils and is fragrance free and contains retinol. As well as being a hydrating night oil it will have many uses – if you have open pores it should close them and also it should lessen acne scars over time as well.
Retinol in oil form is less irritating to the skin and everyone can use it. It is for the woman that wants to dip her toes in with using Retinol at a lower level. And it launches this week!
Although Pestle & Mortar is quite a young company, already you have gone from strength to strength and won numerous awards and really become a known brand. What do you think has been your proudest moment to date?
Oh that is a tough one! I think recently winning the US Cosmopolitan Best Newcomer Award 2016.
Wow – that is amazing to win an international Award and really helps you break into those markets. Do you think being Irish helps you when going into other international markets?
I think perhaps in America as they do like the Irish but not so much in other places. Even in America that will only help you small bit. I don’t think it really matters – it is much more important to have a really good product.
I have noticed that you are really active on social media and are on most of them from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram – do you think it is important for your business to be visible online and active on social media?
Oh yes without a doubt. There are lots of beauty/new products coming out and they lack on social media. We are very into digital marketing and it vital for our brand. Even with Facebook, when it first launched we set up our Portrait Studios as one of the first on Facebook – we have always been early adaptors online.
Nowadays it is all about being online and being digital – and it is so important to have a digital strategy planned out.
I understand that you are an amazing mother of 5! I have no doubt that your day is very busy – how do you try and strike a balance between it all?
Yes 5 of them J I think it is something that every mother struggles with. But at the end of the day you ned to love what you do – and I do. I also don’t really get stressed about things which I think also helps.
I take it all seriously – I take my business very seriously but I try and finish work at 3pm each day so that I can pick that kids up from school, well as much as I can that I can have time with them as well. It is not always possible but I do as much as I can.
It can be so hard being a working mum – I run a company and I run a household. Not many men actually run the household that I know and it is a job in itself. I am lucky that my husband is constantly working as well which means that I can spend that time with the kids as well.
Good childcare is also essential. I am so lucky to have excellent childcare and the same person for all the time that my kids have been growing up – my eldest is now 11 and that consistency is key. It is so difficult though and I am sure that there are others doing it better than me but all you can do is the best that you can.
I imagine with your busy lifestyle that your days can vary quite a lot day to day. What do you enjoy most?
I am certainly a people person! I love interacting with people and it is my main strength. I can’t sit at a desk for long and can always be found walking around the office or on my phone. Connecting with people is something I enjoy and it has really helps me with my business.
Would you have any tips for someone interested into getting product creation or someone starting their own business?
Well about 18 months ago we were completely green, we knew nothing and were started from scratch. Both of us come from a self-employed background as our parents were also self employed so that was a benefit.
There will be a lot of people who will tell you that it is a bad idea or not to go ahead – you need to not listen to the negative people. We were told that we would need to call and call different people to stock our product and that we would need to keep knocking on doors HOWEVER within a few months of being in business we had Brown Thomas and Liberty calling US and asking to stock our product.
You need to believe in yourself and believe in your brand.
It is also vital that your branding is right. It is so important to have all the elements correct, you can have the best product in the world but if you do not have all the elements in line you may not be successful. It is not just about the product.
Wow fantastic advice and I understand what you mean – sometimes even the packaging can put you off a product even if the produce itself is supposed to be great.
Exactly – all parts of the product count and need to be taken into account!
And finally a lighter hearted question – what is your own make up essential?
Oh difficult – I am not a big make up person. I come from a different generation and have never had the false eyelashes or hair extensions and am quite low maintenance. I feel that if you skin is good – a great base that you don’t need to put on a lot of makeup. I feel that less is more and my own make up only takes two seconds to put on. I do enjoy some beauty treatments such as getting my nails painted and my eyebrows threaded and well I guess I do love a bit of blusher!
A massive thank you to Sonia for the interview and I for one cannot wait to try out their new Superstar night oil!! I would highly recommend visiting the Pestle & Mortar website and they are also online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!
Images kindly authorized for use by Sonia from her website.