THE WELL Q&A: Kate McLeod

The creator of the Body Stone shares how her background as a pastry chef spurred the idea for her signature solid moisturizer.

Kate McLeod sitting at her desk

A pastry chef turned beauty entrepreneur, Kate McLeod identifies herself as a maker above all else. Life and curiosity led her to New York, London, South Africa, Paris and Zurich; love brought her back to New York City in 2015. That’s when she realized she lost herself along the way. She’s the creator of The Body Stone, a self-care practice and daily ritual that helped her find herself again. Kate currently splits her time between Rhinebeck and New York City with her husband, Justin, and their little one, Ollie.

What brought you to wellness?

I ran every which way until I ran my spirit into the ground. When I had no other choice, when I felt so completely broken, I finally had to take care of myself, of my spirit, of my soul.

Your Body Stones are so unique — how did you come up with the concept?

By chance — and with the help of curiosity and a little exploration. In 2015, my sister-in-law took a bottle of lotion out of my hands and asked me if I knew what I was putting on my body. I had never given it much thought. She handed me a chunk of cocoa butter and told me to go spend some time with myself. She also prompted me to explore what was actually inside many of the products I was purchasing. Once I jumped down that rabbit hole, there was no going back. 

As a former pastry chef, I brought the cocoa butter into the kitchen and started to tinker with it like I used to play with chocolate. I wanted to see if I could enhance the application process (which isn’t too lovely with pure raw cocoa butter). I was in the middle of my yoga teacher training and incorporated the oils I had learned about through Ayurveda. I poured the original mixture into jars and dug it out with a wooden spoon after showering. The first “Stones” were poured into my old French pastry molds and given out at our wedding. People liked them, so I kept pursuing it. 

What I discovered along the way was that the days I used my product and “accidentally” took care of myself were better days. I had discovered the power — the absolute magic — of self-care.

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness to me is a total state. It has more to do with my level of awareness than what I am eating and how I am moving. I am well when I am aware. You can work out, you can eat well, you can have a laundry list of “self-care” practices, but if you are just going through the motions, approaching them as a “to-do list,” then they lose their power. I thrive when I live in the moment. I thrive when I am aware of what is alive in my body, of how I am feeling. I am healthy when I am aware of my emotions, and when I am aware of the stories I have a tendency to play in my head.

One lesson you’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic?

The importance of setting up daily routines. I normally speak about ritual. I believe there is a difference between ritual and routine; for me, that difference lies in the intention behind the action of the former. My rituals are sacred; they stoke my soul. But my routine keeps me sane, keeps me grounded and keeps me functioning.

Name three non-negotiables in your life.

Love, chocolate, movement.

The book you own that is the most dog-eared?

It’s a three-way tie: Conversations with God, everything by Brené Brown and cookbooks — I love (and collect) cookbooks.

Favorite quote?

“Don’t kill the beast, you fool, because that’s your power.”  — Ana Forrest

Best beauty/grooming secret?

The Body Stone! And my GHD hairdryer. I have a wild mane of hair (it’s my power!) but it must occasionally be soothed and tamed — this machine is my baby.

Morning and/or bedtime rituals?

My go-to bedtime routine is a quick dry brush (we’re launching ours in April), an indulgent hot shower and a moisturizing rub down with the Body Stone. You’ll wake up feeling silky smooth.

Wellness travel essentials?

My mat, my favorite tea, a crystal and a Grounding or Naked Stone (Body Stones are carry-on approved!).

The key to a good night's sleep?

Eating early, no stimulants and going to bed in harmony with (on the same team as) my partner.

Food philosophy?

My relationship to food has been a roller coaster since early childhood. Pregnancy and postpartum recovery was deeply healing for me. I’ve come to actually believe the following: Trust your intuition, listen to your body, everything in moderation

Most used condiments?

Mustard. I have a passion for Maille Mustard.

How do you take your coffee or tea?

Decaf poured over cocoa powder with a little oat milk.

Go-to wellness gift?

Easy question: the Body Stone!

Preferred mode of movement?

Dance

Words to live by?

Breathe

What's sacred to you?

Family — Justin and Ollie are my home.

Last time you laughed — and at what?

Like a really good, belly-hurting laugh? Earlier this week with my husband. I forget what it was over, but I’m so grateful to be sharing this life with my best friend.

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