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The 8 Ball: Ester Kislin, Creative Director and Founder of Sounds

Ester Kislin | Sounds

We can’t help but smile when we look at Sounds. Maybe it’s their Good Mood Tea or their Chime Bath Salts. Sounds came to Ester Kislin in a dream where she saw all of her favorite things spread out on a giant table. She now says that Sounds is “about feelings, the ones in your body, in your mind, in your home, the space inside, outside and all around you.” Get to know Ester. Get to know Sounds.

How did Sounds start?

I dreamt of Sounds during the first trimester of my pregnancy. Before Sounds I was a ceramicist and painter and often felt unfulfilled and unhappy with the world I was a part of -it felt toxic- and my practice often felt selfish. I mark the end of my own childhood with the birth of Paulie in many ways. Even though I was an adult, almost everything I did was for me before. I felt that I had to create space for others and not just myself, a positive space for Paulie to grow in, a mother to look up to.

In my dream I saw a massive table covered with all my favorite things. If I was still making work it probably would have translated into an installation. I decided to create something for my community instead. Sounds is about feelings, the ones in your body, in your mind, in your home, the space inside, outside and all around you. It's still something for me but it's also for Paulie and it's also for you.

What was the first item or brand you carried at Sounds? Why was it a must-have for you?

The first person I reached out to was Sean Gerstley, we went to RISD together and remained friends. Sean is a Philly based ceramicist and I have always believed that he makes some of the best work out there, both sculptural and functional. It’s chonky and fun, it feels timeless and modern at the same time. He made the tableware for our cafe and his work will always be available through Sounds.

Do you have a favorite Bath Salt?

I suppose Banya is my favorite scent profile that we developed. It's very simple but it's also personal for me as I grew up in a culture that values the bath house experience. Owning a Sauna or Hinoki bathtub in Brooklyn is generally out of the question. With Covid, Hammams, Banyas, Bathhouses, Onsens, all these places have become even more inaccessible. When I use the Banya bath salts at home I close my eyes and pretend I’m somewhere else, it's easy to do because the scent is so powerful and nostalgic.

Gua Sha is sort of new to us at Covet + Lou. Could you explain the tool and how to use it properly?

The Gua Sha is a game changer. You can literally toss all those eye creams, contouring make-up and collagen boosters and just use a Gua Sha. Massaging your face can literally change the shape of it. The short term benefits are visible contouring, brightness, even tone and reduction in swelling; you will notice these after one session. It has been said that long term benefits include youthful skin, even tone and less wrinkles as you age.

I use my Gua Sha as often as I can remember. If I have time in the mornings after moisturizing I'll do a quick rub down of my jaw line, under eyes, eyebrow area and cheek bones. If you are working on your face, always use upward or diagonal movements. You don't need to go down -unless you are a youthful immortal vampire- gravity and time is likely already doing that for you.

If I’m lucky enough to have the time and energy In the evenings after Paulie is asleep I get a little more serious about it. I’ll work on my face but also my neck, shoulders, legs (i have knee pain and this really helps) and the extra stuff left over on my belly after birth. Gua Sha is for beauty but it's also for health. If you have sore muscles or knots try using this tool to work them out, you will be surprised by the results! Keep it in the fridge and incorporate it into your hangover cure if that's where you are at :)

Your tea collab with Moodflower is so great! How did this collaboration come to be?

I worked with my friend Frances Chang on recipes for our cafe customers, we called them “medicinal herbal teas”. Each one had serious healing properties and benefits. They quickly became best sellers, people seemed to prefer them over the greens and blacks we had on the menu. Customers were always asking to buy some to take home which was really inspiring for us. Serving the teas in the cafe began to feel limiting so Frances started Moodflower and we released the teas in packaged form one year after opening the shop.

What about the house drinks you serve at Sounds? Could you share a favorite recipe with us?

Due to covid our cafe won't be reopening which is really sad, it really brought the community together. I have been quietly compiling recipes from our cafe for publication (coming soon!). In the meantime I recommend experimenting with the teas, they make fantastic lattes and are designed to function beautifully with adaptogens. As the weather cools try adding a little Rhodiola and Manuka Honey to our Free Energy tea and turning it into a latte, sprinkle it with some cayenne pepper if you can, you’ll feel satisfied, focused, energized, powerful and warm. Don't forget that at home you can re-steep the teas up to three times and they will keep their medicinal properties.

Favorite artists / creatives right now?

I've been obsessed with what Spur is doing. The ladies at Spur take your old heirlooms and recycle the materials to make custom wearable art. I recently gave them a couple pieces I wasn't wearing anymore, a ring my mom got when she was a teenager, my grandmother's necklace and a second ring from someone very dear to me. Each piece had a different gemstone so Simone at Spur designed a new ring for me that incorporates all three stones. It's truly a remarkable concept, I think everyone has a piece of jewelry they have outgrown, this method of upcycling leaves you with something special, sentimental and affordable that you will actually want to wear.

Something you’re looking forward to for Sounds?

I love product development, something I have been much more focused on while our shop is on break. It's consistently my favorite part of the business but I really miss having a brick and mortar. My dear friend Ryan Harvey - who is an amazing architect and designed both Sounds and my home- is cooking up some very cool plans for the reopening. He is focusing on creating a comfortable domestic environment for the front where the shop will be and incorporating design offices in the back. I can't wait to be able to bounce between the shop and design team, I look forward to the in person customer feedback. Our products are so sensory, it has been difficult to translate those feelings over instagram or on our site.