With BODY STONES, Kate McLeod leads a self-care revolution against plastics, pumps, and chemicals. We sat down with Kate to hear her story, her perspective on self-care rituals, and what she’s looking forward to most as she prepares to welcome her first baby boy this summer.
Tell us where your career journey began. What did you do before you began The Body Stone?
Kate: It’s been a long, winding journey. I went from Wellesley to Goldman Sachs, hopped the pond for culinary school, became a pastry chef on both sides of the equator, called off a wedding and returned to the USA for my first love, found solace on a yoga mat, and accidentally stumbled into the beauty world via a chunk of cocoa butter. Throughout my twenties I felt completely and utterly lost. It sounds so cliche, but it’s true: every step, every detour and unexpected path, brought me to where I am today. BODY STONES are a culmination of my non-traditional journey—they embody everything I love, everything I have learned, and everything I want to share.
What inspired you to return to the states?
Kate: Love. Full stop. I met my husband when I was eighteen, and I knew. He didn’t. I think a part of him did, but he fought it, hard. We broke up seven times over three and a half years. I actually transferred universities to get away from him. We parted ways in 2007; he reached back out to me after pulling his life together in 2010. I didn’t trust him, and my partner and I had just moved to London. I couldn’t do it. My husband claims the heartbreak was the inspiration for starting Hinge a month later. Nearly five and a half more years of silence passed and then, in 2015, he showed up in Zurich unannounced two months before my wedding. It was two weeks shy of eight years to the day since we had last seen each other. But I knew. I called everything off and moved into his studio in the West Village the next week.
Who were the women in your life who helped you discover the interests and talents that brought you to where you are now?
Kate: First, my mother. She encouraged me to follow my dreams wherever they took me, and they took me pretty much everywhere. And she instilled in me her unparalleled ability to get things done.
Second, my late sister-in-law Deb. She was a force: a magical spell-binding force. Deb is the one who first put cocoa butter in my hands. She’s also the first person who really stopped to ask me if I was okay, how I was feeling, what was really going on. She dug beneath the surface layers and encouraged me to do the same.
And, my co-founder and fellow HEYMAMA member Nichola Gray, who immediately understood my vision and wanted to join me on this adventure. Thanks to her operations chops, we were able to move this out of my kitchen and build a real business in our beautiful Butter Atelier. She was 6 months pregnant when we launched—she’s shown me how powerful that mama work ethic is!
Lastly, all of the amazing female founders I’ve been blessed to meet. The idea of an overnight success is just that: an idea. It’s not real. Everything takes time. I have endless respect for the women who continue to show up, who keep trying, iterating, pivoting, and going forward. Especially those women with little ones.
How did your experience as a bakery owner and pastry chef help you in crafting the perfect recipe for your body stones?
Kate: BODY STONES would never have happened without my time in the kitchen. I’ve always loved working with my hands, but experimenting with food gave me the confidence to experiment and develop potions for other areas of life. When I first saw raw cocoa butter, I didn’t know anything about beauty or skincare, but I knew chocolate. I took it home, put it in my double boiler and started to play. The first ‘recipe’ was very similar to my favorite ganache.
What ingredients will we find in every body stone?
Kate: We have five core ingredients: cocoa butter, sweet almond Oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, and fractionated coconut oil. There’s literally nothing else—no preservatives, no synthetics, no alcohol, no parabens, no additives.
In what ways is the MAMA STONE different than the others?
The MAMA STONE is an unscented body moisturizer that doesn’t include any essential oils. This means that it’s safe for the most sensitive skin types, and for the most sensitive areas of the body. MAMA STONE is also pretty incredible in what it can achieve—it’s a multi-purpose product that can be used before, during, and after pregnancy. It soothes blossoming bellies, supports stretch mark prevention, aides perineal massage, helps to heal vaginal tearing or caesarean scarring, calms breastfeeding nipples, and is wonderful for infant massage. Bonus: it’s a sensual lubricant as well. Having sex after having a baby can be daunting, and MAMA STONE really makes a big difference. Nichola cites the MAMA as the main reason magic has been restored to her bedroom postpartum!
How did you come up with the tagline “know your self,” and what does it mean to you?
It has two meanings:
KNOW YOUR SELF by knowing what you are putting on your body.
Few founders in today’s e-commerce environment actually know what goes into their products. Most use contract manufacturers and stock formulations to make “versions of the same.” I believe that knowing how to make things yourself is the greatest pledge of safety you can give to your customer. We still hand pour each batch in our Butter Atelier.
And then KNOW YOUR SELF through the healing power of your own touch.
Our society is increasingly focused on taking care of our bodies: through diet, exercise, and the products we apply. Yet I am constantly surprised by how many people have lost touch with their bodies: the physical feeling of skin beneath their fingers. The quiet, mindful moments that can come from spending time touching, feeling, and knowing your body’s surface. Our brand really promotes the power of touch for self-care—this is somatic skincare.
Beyond healthy skin, what are the benefits of a self-care ritual?
I have traditionally had a really hard time practicing self care. It’s been a constant struggle. However, over time, I’ve realized that my BODY STONES were my self care practice, my daily ritual. And I found that when I took the time to feel my skin, to touch my body, and know my self, I felt better about myself, my body, and my life. Applying a STONE is like putting on armor, a self-care body shield. It’s magic. Confidence boosting, power-fueling magic. And that’s what this is all about.
What are you most looking forward to about motherhood?
Meeting this little man! And cooking with him. He’s already my kicky little sous chef.
3 pearls of wisdom
Pregnancy is a magical time, but it’s also a head-on collision with the reality that control is an illusion, a total farce. It doesn’t deliver this message lightly, either—it kind of hits you over the head with it. To me it’s not about acceptance or letting go, but rather about surrendering. The difference is subtle but key.
Take care of yourself, be gentle with you. Even if it’s the first time in your life you’ve shown yourself love (as it was for me), love your self. You’re just where you need to be, you’re enough, and, as my good friend Cat says, “you’re doing beautifully.”
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