We are very grateful to have spent time with Sonia Deasy, Co-founder of Pestle & Mortar, from Kilkenny, Ireland.

Pestle & Mortar continues to enjoy phenomenal success globally for more than 10 years.  A family business,  built on Indian traditions and heritage, Sonia shares her story here as an entrepreneur and an advocate for following what she believes in.

How would you describe your business?

Simple, effective skincare.

How would you describe the values and culture of Pestle & Mortar, and what’s important when adding to your team?

 At Pestle & Mortar, we blend the ancient wisdoms of Indian natural healing with cutting-edge science to create simple solutions for beautiful skin. The belief that skincare shouldn’t be complicated drives us to create and innovate simple solutions for beautiful skin, so that everyone can look and feel their best.

To this end, we invite people into a culture that values creativity, community, customer-centricity, and authenticity. Pestle & Mortar began in 2014 with just two people and one skincare product. We’ve grown to a team of 30 and we’re represented in over 21 countries across 5 continents. That didn’t happen by accident or luck. It happened because we intentionally hire people who share our values.

Looking ahead, how do you plan to develop your company culture and leadership structure as you grow?

As we grow, our focus will be on fostering a constructive communication style between leaders and team members, and ensuring that our foundational values are embedded in every aspect of our operations. We plan to invest in leadership development programs that empower our team members to take on new challenges and responsibilities. We are committed to prioritising leadership development, coaching and culture, especially through challenges and transitions, so that our team remains resilient and motivated. Our goal is to foster an environment where every team member feels valued, heard, and motivated to contribute to our collective success, so that Pestle & Mortar continues to thrive as a leader in the skincare industry.

Can you share a memorable story or milestone in your journey?

A major milestone for Pestle and Mortar is what I call my ‘New York’ story!

Less than 1 year after we launched the brand with our Pure Hyaluronic Serum, we got an opportunity to do a Skype interview with Courtney Rubin, a freelance journalist who regularly gets published in the New York Times. She wanted to write specifically about Hyaluronic Acid as an ingredient in skincare. She was particularly interested in the science behind Hyaluronic Acid, which occurs naturally in the body, and is responsible for creating fullness of appearance and maintaining skin hydration. Her piece in The New York Times was to be called ‘The Second Coming of Hyaluronic Acid’.

So, at 10pm on a Saturday night in May 2015, I found myself on a Skype interview with Courtney Rubin. I had prepared extensively, because I knew this interview was potentially a New York Times piece, which could lead to a sizable slice of the New York market. The interview went well, I thought, so I sat back and waited to see what would come of it.

That was May 2015. Nothing was published in the subsequent six months. I was so disappointed and disillusioned. Padraic urged me to chalk the whole thing down to experience, but inside, I was frustrated and my confidence was knocked. I wanted the US to happen for us, and this interview was the springboard. I decided to stop thinking about it.

Life went on as normal until lunchtime on December 30th, when Courtney’s article was published in the New York Times!

 That day alone, we sold thousands of units of Pure Hyaluronic Serum across the US, and sales from that one article continued for the next 20 days – we sold out worldwide!

 It was a significant milestone for us very early on in the journey.

Thank you Sonia, it’s great to see how Pestle and Mortar are growing while staying true to what your beliefs.

Innovative Women Shaping the Future - Sharing Expertise, Experience and Outlook of Irish, Czech and Slovak Women in Business.

Mary Keane and Andrea Chladkova, from our office in Prague, had the pleasure to be invited to this inspiring event:

As a main speaker, Niamh Donnelly, Co-founder & CRO of Akara Robotics shared her story of a female entrepreneurship and was leading the discussion on technology trends and necessity of innovations and adaptability.

It was an evening full of insightful discussions with exceptional women, special thanks to those leading the roundtable discussions:

Andrea Olejarova, Mondelēz International, Lenka Axlerová, Microsoft, Eva Prokesova, JTI (Japan Tobacco International), Aneta Martišková, Edenred Česká republika, Marta Siruckova, Katarína Krajčovičová, Tereza Zavadilova, Monika Mašková, Radka Ondráčková, Senta Čermáková, Erin Swan, Eva Čerešňáková, Lenka Šťastná LION.

The event was organised by the Embassy of Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and Newstream at the residence of the Irish ambassador to the Czech Republic H.E. Cliona Manahan.



Video credit: Newstream.cz


Mary Keane and Lorri Lowe, two of our Partners, both grew up in Ireland. We spoke with them about their memories of Nollaig (Christmas).

Lorri grew up speaking Irish Gaeilge and spent several very happy years in a small village close to Dublin. She remembers most villages, towns, and cities decorating the streets with holy symbols, lights and a large Christmas trees:

"Most, if not all, Irish families decorate their homes with lights, tinsel, and baubles. Holly and ivy were also used to decorate our home and my father always said the more berries on the holly, the better the luck in the new year.

"Our Christmas tree was usually put up on the first day of the holy advent calendar. My mhamó (grandma) always said that putting up Christmas decorations before December 8th would bring bad luck! She looked forward to Nollaig na mBean, or Women's Christmas, on January 6th -  this was when, traditionally, the women got the day off and the men did the housework and cooking. The women all met in each other's homes to sew and chat. I like that idea - of all the local women getting together, but not the fact that the men didn't generally do their share of household tasks!"

On the 12 days of Christmas Mary always had lighted candles on each window,  "It was a magical view to see the candles in contrast with a star-lit sky and the freezing cold of a winter evening. Symbolically the candle represented a welcome to Joseph and Mary as they wandered in search of lodgings and it indicated to strangers, and especially to the poor, that there may be an offering of food in the house within."

The centre-piece of the Christmas holiday in Ireland is the Christmas Dinner with family and friends - also ensuring those close to us, if alone, are invited. Traditionally a round cake, full of caraway seeds, is made for each person in the house.

Mary enjoys the tradition of 'Hunting the Wren' on St Stephen’s Day which is when we celebrate our music and culture while raising money for charities.  Another of her favourite holiday traditions is: "Definitely writing and receiving Christmas cards - I know it’s an outdated tradition but I still love it!"

Lorri's enjoys leaving a mince pie and a bottle of Guinness out on Christmas Eve for Daidí na Nollag (Father Christmas) and seeing what presents he has left for her on the morning of the 25th!

A Christmas Day swim is still practised in certain parts of Ireland, "but only by those with grit" says Mary, with perhaps the most famous being at the 'Forty Foot' tiny beach in South Dublin. Lorri has participated in the Looney Dook on New Year's Day, but on reflection definitely prefers warm water swimming in Irish summers!

Nollaig Shona Duit!

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