Kate McLeod’s success has not been linear. After graduating from Wellesley College, she began a career at Goldman Sachs, left her job to attend culinary school in London, journeyed back to America to chase love, and then serendipitously stumbled into the beauty world with a little help from her sister-in-law and a chunk of cocoa butter. Though this wasn’t the path she originally pictured, Kate is grateful for every twist and turn. Each stage of this adventure helped shape her brand and her signature product, the Body Stone. With her company and her natural, simple full-body moisturizers, Kate is helping countless men and women enhance their well-being. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kate about self-care, wellness, and the lessons she’s learned. Here are her thoughts. 

Can you elaborate on the importance of self-care in modern society? 

We’re in the perfect storm. Overstimulation, digital addiction, social distancing, a growing health crisis, and a deep confrontation of cultural wounds is a lot to handle. As individuals and communities we are experiencing stress on every level and, understandably, many of us are locked in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Our sympathetic nervous systems are overtaxed; our adrenals are fatigued. So why is self care important? What is self-care? Selfcare — real self-care — is your individual remedy, your unique prescription for healing and balance. It is different for everyone because we all have different needs and understanding our unique needs is the first step. True self-care, as opposed to ‘#selfcare,’ requires taking a moment to figure out those needs. It necessitates a moment of inward reflection, a moment of grounding into your physical body, and a moment of feeling. It is a check-in. It is a moment of pause amidst the quickly spiralling whirlwind of life.  And sometimes, that simple but hugely powerful act of checking in is all the self-care you need. We have to be able to show up. And we can not fully show up if we are run down.  

Over the past few years, I’ve established a few routines and rituals that keep me grounded. Practices that, in essence, operate as forcing functions – little hacks that get me to slow down and check-in. Here are my favorites: 

  • Applying a Body Stone to my skin (this is my go to!)
  • Opening up my journal, putting a pen in my hand, and writing for at least three pages. At that point, things really start to flow
  • Rolling out my yoga mat before looking at my phone in the morning. Setting a 20, 30 or 60min timer. 

When was the last time you checked in with yourself? My advice, take a quiet moment and ask yourself a few questions. Keep it simple. How are you doing?  How do you feel? Focus on your physical body and the sensations within it rather than the mental chitter chatter. Be gentle with yourself, watch out for harsh inner critics. What do you need?  Go from there. There is no universal prescription; there is no right or wrong. 

How do your Body Stones work to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being?

Physically – Every Body Stone starts with a core formula of cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, and fractionated coconut oil. That’s it. Chock full of all natural Vitamins E, A, B, and D, the Stones are naturally filled with free radical fighting antioxidants and soothing anti-inflammatory compounds. Body Stones are solid at room temperature but soften when they come into contact with warm, dry skin. As you smooth a Stone over your body, it melts and absorbs, leaving skin soft, supple, and glowing.  Bonus: the application itself is a mini self massage – divine on sore muscles and achy joints. 

Mentally, Spiritually, & Emotionally – Applying a Body Stone takes me out of my head and grounds me into my body.  You hold the Stone in your hands and touch it to your skin. There is no dispensing unit, no plastic pump or bottle. When I first started using cocoa butter and playing around with what became the Body Stone,  I realized how powerful, how healing it was to really spend some time putting my hands on my body. Touch is a powerful sensation.  Your own touch is grounding. I become aware of my breath, I become aware of how my skin feels, of how my body feels. Why is this so important to spiritual and emotional well being? I believe that everything has both feminine and masculine energy.  Simplifying it here, I see masucline energy as a push and feminine energy as a pull. Masculine as the outward yang; feminine as the inward yin. There is immense power in each, but in our day to day lives we frequently rely and call force the masculine. Quiet grounding moments of self-care provide a window, an access point to the incredible well of strength that lies within. Intentioned self-care unleashes the strength rooted in softness, a strength that is inherent in all of us. It is a force. We just need to tap into it. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Last year I heard Ariana Huffington speak. She is a wise woman. She referenced one of her favorite quotes: “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor” (Rumi). It was mind blowing for me. Every time I repeat it, I am amazed by the power and wisdom in those simple words. 

I was bullied when I was younger – so badly that I started developing stomach ulcers at the age of ten. I viewed the world as a dangerous place where I was the victim and everything and everyone was out to get me. That was my narrative, the lens through which I viewed life. And narratives, stories, lenses – like a mantra or a record on repeat – are powerful. They become self-fulfilling prophecies. And, they are hard to see. So what would I have told my younger self that I would have actually understood? That is challenging because I do not think I would have been open to, nor understood, nor been able to see much of what I do today. Maturity evolves in parallel with awareness of our stories. Awareness of our stories begins with understanding our needs. Awareness begins with self-care. So, ‘Take a deep breath Kate. How are you feeling? I hear you. I see you. It is going to be okay. Keep going.’ 

What guidance do you have for Thrive readers in the face of detours and unexpected setbacks?

Embrace them. I just celebrated my 35th birthday.  If you had told me ten years ago what was about to unfold – what a wild ride the decade would be – I probably would have opted out.  And I would have missed out! I’ve learned that life is like surfing. All the setbacks, all the challenges, if you can look at them, feel them like waves, if you can ride them rather than fight and resist them, then you are going to become a very skilled, comfortable surfer and it is going to be an increasingly smoother and more fun ride.  The hardest waves – challenges, triggers, detours, and setbacks – I still feel them but they don’t knock me off my board; they point me in a new direction.