Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives. We hope each interview inspires you, the same way in which these women do to us.
Neada Deters is the founder of organic skincare brand, Lesse. Bound in the belief that skincare should be a ritual, rather than routine, Lesse has simplified the approach to everyday skincare, creating an edit of the essentials, made from high performance botanicals that are both organic and traceable.
Lesse’s approach to skincare reflects the same ethos Marle has to design, that less-is-more. With an equal commitment to both results and the earth, Lesse products are inclusive for all skin types and limited in production.
Here, we speak with Neada about what inspired her to create Lesse, the invaluable lessons she’s learnt along the way, and how her approach to product development spreads through her everyday life.
Please share a little bit about yourself — including your background, noting some of the defining aspects that have contributed to the woman you are today.
I was born and raised in Sydney, to a single mother. She immigrated from the Philippines as a child and has always shown exemplary courage and compassion in the face of much adversity. All you need to know about me is personified in her and my two grandmothers. I have been so fortunate to have them— along with my greater family —as steadfast and incomparable role models throughout my life.
I was bookish and creative growing up. That led me to study literature and art history at the University of Sydney, and I moved to New York shortly after graduation to be at the center of Modern Art. This choice defined so much of what has transpired in my life since. I had a comfortable life I knew so well, and instead I decided to step into the abyss of the unknown. It was a choice that expanded my horizons, in every sense, external and internal. I think I see a much wider world and understand myself in much deeper terms because of that simple decision to book a one-way ticket.
My first job in New York was at VICE, and then I moved into fashion working on both the brand and editorial side. Eventually I went out on my own and consulted for a few years before launching LESSE almost three years ago. I could never have predicted I would one day have a skincare company but now, in hindsight, it feels exactly like where I was meant to be. I think people who know me might say the same thing.
Now I live in Los Angeles and, when I'm not working, I still love to read and devote time to art and design inquiry. I also spend a good amount of time in nature or traveling.
|"Skincare occupies this unique intersection of beauty, science, wellness, innovation, identity, and community. When you start to pull at the thread, like I did, you realize how meaningful skincare is—on an individual and societal level. How much influence it has over our sense of self, notions of beauty, and what it means to feel well"|
Prior to establishing LESSE, you were an editor. What were the defining moments that led you to start your own skincare line?
In my last full-time role in New York, I was an editor covering fashion, travel, design and beauty. I had experience in the other categories but had never crossed into beauty, professionally. I found myself captivated by the space. Skincare occupies this unique intersection of beauty, science, wellness, innovation, identity, and community. When you start to pull at the thread, like I did, you realize how meaningful skincare is—on an individual and societal level. How much influence it has over our sense of self, notions of beauty, and what it means to feel well.
I followed this thread for three years before launching LESSE. I was completely compelled, in a way I have never felt about anything before or since. Once I scratched the surface, I couldn't let it go. I could see there was a deep need for change and, having access to skincare experts across different fields and generations as an editor, I delineated between what our skin needs and what we, as consumers, were being sold. I just wanted to crack this industry right open and I oscillated back and forth on the best way to do that.
In the end, I decided to just create a solution. Create products that underlined what skin actually needs, that are made and packaged in a way that is more considered, and to carve out a space in the industry where inclusivity and real representation are luxury—not exclusionary practices and a lack of transparency. I always describe LESSE as a new way of thinking about skincare, and I still believe that's exactly what it is.
All aspects of LESSE honour a less is more approach. What makes LESSE unique to the skincare industry?
Most companies are constantly trying to sell you more. They want you to employ an extensive regime and feel like you need to switch products between the seasons, and have a different routine morning vs. night. We undermine this. LESSE is a simplified system that reduces skincare to the essential; considered, efficacious products that work with and to support skin.
When using a multitude of products, many of them cancel each other out, and the actual process of applying so many can have ramifications on your epidermis, impeding skin barrier function. This can lead to sensitivity and skin that is easily triggered, irritated and prone to breakouts. We also need to move beyond this mindset of using so much, if we truly care about the planet. I truly believe the best thing we can do for the environment is to find ways to purchase and use less.
Is this an approach you carry through your everyday life and how?
I'm definitely minimal in my approach to living. I don't subscribe to trends and I shop mostly vintage or secondhand, and I use things until they break and then I'll repair them again. If I no longer have use for something, I'll pass it on or find a way to repurpose it in a new capacity.
As a sole business owner, you would have encountered many challenges along the way. What have been the most invaluable lessons you’ve learnt throughout your journey with LESSE?
I have learned so much, it's almost impossible to reduce it to just a few lessons. Perhaps the greatest one has been how necessary it is to believe unequivocally in the work you are doing, and to see every challenge as an opportunity to evolve. We were so fortunate in our first year to have support behind us right away and, at first, it would upset me if I saw another skincare brand replicating what we were doing—but I learned to value it as a reminder to always push forward and elevate our thinking.
LESSE honours the ritual, rather than the routine. What are some daily rituals that you make time for each day?
I take it slow in the mornings. I'll drink coffee while I read. I try to move for an hour or so, either taking a long walk if I need time and space to think or I'll practice pilates at home. I always carve out time for my skin ritual, morning and night, and a bath always helps if I'm feeling stressed.
How would you describe your personal style? And how has it changed over the years?
I tend to wear classic, tailored looks—but play with proportion, mixed materials, and vintage elements. I own a lot of vintage designer pieces from the 40s, 70s and 90s, which I'll layer together or over simple pieces. I have always gravitated towards this style but it's just become more refined over the years, as I know exactly what cuts suit me and what fabrics hang best.
What are the Marle pieces are you wearing today, and why do you love them?
All of these pieces have a vintage sensibility to them, but refined and more wearable. They are all made from beautiful fabrics, too, that drape beautifully and feel seasonless.
Where is home for you?
Equal parts New York, Los Angeles, and Sydney. But who knows where we will, one day, end up.
What is your most treasured object in your home and why?
The art that I own and some of the vintage furniture that might be considered art unto itself. I so deeply value the emotion that art brings to a space, and also the beauty and pragmatism of rare period furniture.
Do you prefer texture or colour?
Texture. It takes a more discerning eye.
Summer or Winter?
Summer. I think that's a fairly predictable answer from any Australian.
What are you reading right now?
The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama. It's the first in a trilogy of non-fiction books.
Jumping on a plane with only a carry-on.
Neada wears the Mason Sweater, Lakey Skirt, Erika Top and Janelle Skirt. Photographed by Kourtney Smith