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CP Photo: Lake Lewis
Miko DiHoniesto from Tonic and Sage
As autumn approaches and temperatures get cooler, it becomes more important to take care of your skin and hair. You probably already have favorite products, but you might want to try something new this year. If you’re looking for something local and black, Tonic und Sage is the place for you.
Tonic and Sage is owned by Miko DiHoniesto, a Pittsburgh native who grew up primarily in Squirrel Hill. She says she started skincare out of necessity.
“As a teenager, my skin was very sensitive and dry. So I realized that I had to take care of my skin differently from the rest of my family or even like other people around me, like my friends, ”she says. “So I started grooming myself as a teenager and it just became part of my routine. And then, maybe in my early twenties, I decided to start a company. ”
After being fired from a previous job, DiHoniesto began researching personal care products before fully launching Tonic and Sage in 2020.
Part of her research included the study of herbalism, broadly defined as the practice of making herbal herbal remedies for medicinal conditions. She says that she feels that herbalism studies are still being practiced and that she is still learning and growing in her understanding of the field.
For body care, Tonic and Sage mainly offers “Body Buttah”, “Body Oyl” and balms. Some common ingredients in these products are shea butter, mango butter, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and scented oils like lavender and rosemary.
It took some time to find the right ingredients for each product, says DiHoniesto.
“I knew that shea butter had to be one of the most important decisions. So I sourced from a company that sells fair trade and organic products, and it took a while to search, ”she says. “I think it was important to limit it to products or ingredients that I know very well, that I’m used to working with, and that a lot of people identify with and have heard of. For me, sourcing ingredients is more about identifiability and familiarity than about the newest, rarest ingredient. I’m not trying to ruin a rainforest. I try to be sustainable with all ingredients. ”
Tonic and Sage products are vegan-friendly too, and that’s what DiHoniesto intended.
“For me it’s important to have vegan products because there aren’t too many on the market that can really be portrayed as safe for vegans,” she says. “I’m not saying vegan is the ultimate kind of lifestyle choice, but when you have more vegan-friendly things, you end up making your products more accessible. And that’s what I want to represent with my product line, I want accessibility and I want people to use my products, no matter where they come from in life. What skin sensitivities they have, allergies and lifestyle decisions that they adhere to. ”
Like other black-owned companies that started around the pandemic, DiHoniesto said it experienced a business boom during the summer of the protests in 2020. The call to support black businesses was strong in Pittsburgh and many residents were ready to respond. While DiHoniesto says the heightened awareness isn’t making being black in Pittsburgh any easier, it was nice to see the support for their business.
DiHoniesto then received a grant to run a stall in the weekly Bloomfield Saturday market. She says that, in turn, by adding it to the list of black-owned companies in the area, it quickly gained a lot of recognition and allowed her business to flourish.
In terms of sales, DiHoniesto says that her favorite product is the Body Buttah and that her customer base are huge fans of Body Oyl.
“Another big bestseller is the Goodnight & Go body butter,” says DiHoniesto. “It’s lavender and vanilla. It smells really nice, it can kind of get you to sleep and relax. It just has nutritious shea butter, cocoa butter, murumuru butter, and yes, that’s a real stakeholder. ”
Tonic and Sage products are available online at tonicandsage.com or in-store at love, Pittsburgh, Moonbeam Cafe, Arm Full of Flowers and Ceremonial.