WOMEN OF NOTE:
Neada Deters | Founder and Creative Director of LESSE
Neada Deters has fast become a name synonymous with contemporary beauty. After impulsively purchasing a one-way ticket from Sydney to New York nine years ago—telling her parents and breaking up with her boyfriend the very next day—Neada swiftly moved continents to begin her career overseas and never looked back. Working in lifestyle media and a stint in fashion eventually led her away from New York to Los Angeles, where she launched her organic gender-neutral skincare brand LESSE. Still in its formative years, LESSE’s approach to skincare as a ritual rather than routine has already garnered a dedicated international following, practiced at bathroom sinks near and far. Mastering the art of elevated simplicity, LESSE offers three staple skin products in signature grey-blue packaging thoughtfully crafted to tend to our outer layers, in order to nurture the ones within.
Dressed in our signature Deiji 02 walnut robe, Neada invites us into her home in Los Angeles.
Location: Los Angeles
Date: 8/4/20 Time: 7.32pm
Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m originally from Sydney, but now live in Los Angeles. Somewhere in the middle, I was in New York.
If you could only use three sentences to describe your path in life so far, what would they say?
It’s never been boring. More so a series of acute, unexpected turns. Now, like always, ever forward.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Either for a worthy reason.
How would you describe your relationship to self-care?I’m highly committed to self-care; inside and out. We all deserve more than we know.
What are the self-care rituals you can’t be without?
Long dinners with friends, LESSE applied morning and night, long walks in the sun, 8 hours of sleep.
Your skincare brand LESSE takes a minimalist, non-binary approach to beauty, using organic ingredients and sustainable packaging. How do you think this philosophy translates to the ways we care for not only our skin, but for ourselves in other areas of life?
This philosophy is really about making considered choices— for your health, for the planet, for the wellbeing and inclusion of others. How you live defines our world. What do we really need? The truth is, we don’t need much. I love The Rolling Stones’ song Satisfaction. It’s so relevant to where we are today, and the possible impact this isolation will have on our perspective. I hope we can learn to be more thoughtful in regards to sustainability and our personal fulfilment in how we consumer and live moving forward.
Activism is also an important part of the LESSE ethos. Could you tell us a little about the organisations No Kid Hungry and the National Resource Defense Council that you’ve worked with and supported recently?
No Kid Hungry
If we don't stand up and speak out with conviction and compassion for those who are most vulnerable, who will? More than 16 million children every year in the US lack the nutrition for their physical and mental development. These staggering numbers are how poverty becomes cyclical and minorities remain oppressed— through the deprivation of children. The work that No Kid Hungry is crucial in the lives of millions of children, and they are a beacon of hope where it's needed most.
National Resource Defense Council
The fight against climate change calls for the most aggressive systemic change. Yes, we all need to be more considered in how we live and consume— the sum of many parts does make an incredible impact. But we also need to see rapid and monumental shifts in global policy. For too long, governments have condoned profit over planet. That is why the NRDC is so imperative. They work tirelessly not just on initiatives to conserve and heal our flora and fauna; they also invest in deep research and advocacy to change policy in favor of a more sustainable world. Their work is incredible and this is a nonprofit I will continue to support for the rest of my life.
LESSE was created with a clear consideration for the wellbeing of humanity and the sustainability of our planet. These two causes cut to the center of those values and magnify them.
During this time of self-isolation, our ideas of normalcy are changing and it can be difficult to find (let alone keep) routine. What are some daily rituals that you’ve implemented in isolation?
I move or stretch my body in the mornings, for both my physical and mental health. I’ll do some yoga or pilates, or maybe dance around my lounge room. Starting my day with movement gives my life some semblance of structure. In the afternoon, we’ll go for a long walk with our dog. That’s my favorite part of the day. It seems so very ordinary but I’m grateful for the fresh air and space— and now more than ever, the safety of my home and my health.
Who and what inspires you?
Nature, wabi sabi, sustainable innovation. Creatively, I’m inspired by artists including Judd, Condo, and Andre; architects Schindler, Neutra, Ando, Barragan; and modern designers including Bellini, van der Rohe, and Baughman. In life, I’m inspired by doctors, scientists, teachers, human rights and environmental advocates, family and friends.
What does the notion of home mean to you?
Where the people I love live.
In your house, which room do you find most solace in?
Our lounge room, which has a huge window that looks down the hill and across Los Angeles. Every evening there’s an incredible sunset.
What recipes do you find yourself returning to?
I cook to taste, never with a recipe. It’s something different every time! Right now, I’m cooking comforting meals that are good for immunity. Soups, curries, simple Japanese dishes, elaborate salads.
What are you currently reading and listening to?
I have listened to Bill Withers nonstop, grieving his passing. He contributed so much to the music industry and lived with such conviction. His songs are also thoroughly cathartic right now. I’m reading A Critique on Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant and Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino.
How do you stay grounded?
Speaking to the people I love, practicing daily rituals that give my life meaning, taking clear and intentional breaks away from the newscycle.
What do you do to unwind?
A glass of wine in our garden, or a long bath.
What is a significant moment of your past that has informed where you are today?
My mother was born in the Philippines so we would travel there for a month every year, growing up. I know she found it very difficult to reconcile the life she had in Sydney with the difficult lives that many people in the Philippines live, the clear injustice and corruption of their government. So every trip, she would order enough food to feed an entire community— it was for the people who lived on Smokey Mountain, a landfill in Manila. They lived in and off the landfill, and real food was a rare commodity. My mother would take us with her, and all of our cousins and aunts, and we would feed these people who were so incredibly gracious despite the injustice that life had served them. Some were very young children, often toddlers carrying infants. Hardly anyone wore shoes. It was a very difficult and deeply moving experience that shaped my perspective on life; I have never been anything but immensely grateful for all I have, even at the most personally difficult times, because of this memory. I learned compassion and the meaning of injustice, I understood the true potential for equality— and seeing a landfill up close, standing on it, made me a child who cared about sustainability and limiting waste at a time when few talked about it.
Do you dream while you sleep? If so, what do you dream of?
I always dream— we all do, every night. But these quiet moments, these non-memories, are so lovely to store away and keep our own.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes