Kate McLeod

Coolstuff Team
January 26, 2024

Meet Kate, a pastry chef turned beauty entrepreneur and founder of skincare brand, Kate McLeod. Known for their solid moisturizers, Kate was inspired to create the Stone when she was cooking with cocoa butter and connected how moisturizing it is - without the added water lotions. Over the past 5 years, Kate and her co-founder Nichola have built the business into a Best of Beauty Award Winning company, sold at places like Sephora and goop.

How did your career as a pastry chef lead you to starting your plant-based skincare brand, Kate McLeod?

My comfort in the kitchen and my love of creating and tweaking recipes gave me the confidence to try to apply those skills to something slightly different.  When I became aware of what was actually in lotions - that they were mostly water, alcohol, fillers, stabilizers, synthetics and few natural, nourishing ingredients - I decided to play with one of my absolute favorite ingredients: cocoa butter. 

Cocoa butter has a rich history. It is a vitamin E powerhouse and, in my opinion, the best thing you can put on your skin.  What I did differently is that I looked at this ingredient through a food lens.  If you've ever tried to melt chocolate at home, you know it can be difficult. Working with cocoa butter like I used to work with chocolate, I created a recipe that is nearly 80% cocoa butter,  20% a blend of my favorite four luxurious plant based oils. Zero water, no dilution. 100% plant based nourishment. In one application of a Body Stone you apply more cocoa butter to your body than exists in an entire 16oz bottle of lotion.

We make the Body Stone in house. The recipe is the same as it was in my kitchen and we've built out a team of chefs, bakers, and makers who understand that you can't rush the process. Working with the ingredients carefully - as I used to construct my pastries - I was able to create a cocoa butter concentrate that easily melts on contact with warm dry skin. It's not like other solids that have wax and sticky butters. The Body Stone glides on like silk, leaving your skin soft, supple and glowing.  

Tell us what the process was like in the creation of your iconic solid moisturizer?

Ha... it was long!  At first I had no intention of making this into a business. It was just me in my kitchen mixing it up for me. I used to pour the mixture into jars and dig it out with a spoon.  Over time though, I realized that days when I applied it to my skin were better days.  It made me want to get dressed - put on clothes, leave the house and connect with others. The simple act of connecting with my body was so powerful....truly, it changed my life. I wanted to share it with friends and family so I started pouring my recipe into my pastry molds.  It wasn't until the Stone got into a few celebrity hands that the orders started pouring in and I realized I had to document and formalize my processes (and the official recipe!) All I can say is that my skin was glowing - I was covered in butter everyday for months!  It was hard and scary but, as a result, I know the ingredients and my product inside and out. And that is priceless. 

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community? 

The community itself.  I believe connection is the antidote for anxiety, for loneliness, for fear. We are innately social creatures. Some more than others, but we all need connection. I spent this morning dancing with other founders and creators at Forward Space. Halfway through the class I could feel the energy pumping throughout my body. I was literally tingling - so alive - and my mind and body were connected - I was fully present in my body. In that present state, after the dancing stopped, I dropped in and connected with those around me. I'm so grateful for opportunities like this. 

Did your travels and life in Europe serve as inspiration for your brand?

Indirectly, yes. I went to culinary school in Italy and opened my first bakery in London. It was overseas where I truly became a chef - and the Body Stone is a product of my kitchen.  The ingredients, the cheesecloth/muslin wrapping, the bamboo canister (a custom salt canister) - it all came from or was inspired by my kitchen. This is also why there's no plastic, no waste. Real whole ingredients. Handmade from scratch. Soft textures, warm woods. This is what I bring into my home and what I'm honored and proud to share with others. 

Do you have a favorite place to shop for natural beauty products in NYC?

My favorite essential oil store: hands down, Enfleurage. Love ONDA, I'm really excited about the new Sommet Beauty uptown, and if I'm on my way upstate, Duchess in Bedford is the very best. 

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@katemcleod on Instagram