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A Luxe Skincare Line Takes Root In Carmel

Slowing down and savoring the moment with BY TIDE founder Leah Cabardo.
PUBLISHED ON
October 13, 2023

Words by Angela Salazar
Cover photos by Kelsey Wisdom

What happens when a born-and-raised New Yorker lands in a quaint California beach town just before a global pandemic? A poetic synergy of slow living and big ideas.

That’s because, with the nine-to-five city grind gone, BY TIDE founder Leah Cabardo finally has space to dwell (quite literally, read on), taking everything she’s learned from more than a decade working in Big Beauty and bringing it back to its roots with her ritualistic body care line of soaps, body oils, ambience-inducing sprays and more. We recently chatted with Cabardo about the importance of honing in on one’s personal creative pursuits and building a soul-satisfying community in Carmel.

Photo Courtsey of BYTIDE; Video by Grant Kinsey

GREAT CHEMISTRY

After years working in the corporate world of marketing and retail operations at MAC Cosmetics, Cabardo sought solace in the hand-made. Her move from New York to San Francisco in 2017 started her on a journey toward a gentler way of living that was more in tune with the environment—and sparked her passion for product formulation. 

“Working in an environment where beauty and fashion and skincare melded together definitely influenced my path now,” she says. “When I moved to California, it became clear to me that it was a different environment, in terms of how people are connected to nature and health and their own bodies. I began experimenting with skincare and wondering, ‘what am I putting on my body?’ I have a background in biology and chemistry, so I started making soaps at home. From there it just became a passion of mine.”

After moving a hundred miles down the coast to Carmel, in 2019, Cabardo began working on what she calls “conscious body care.” That gave rise to BY TIDE, which began with her soaps and has since expanded to include a scrub, lip treatment and body oil, with a new hand soap and lotion launching in July. Each item is crafted with the intention of savoring the present moment. Coming from the bustling burnout culture of New York City, Cabardo wanted to rethink not only the ingredients in her products, but the lifestyle they corresponded with.  

“BY TIDE’s name comes from the ebb and flow we experience as people. I'm not a patient person. I encourage slow living and pausing, but I’m trying to live by that as well,” she says. “I really want to destigmatize wellness as a luxury. I'm very much an advocate for the little rituals you can do to nurture yourself. I do not get up at 6 a.m., workout for an hour, drink a smoothie and eat well everyday of my life, that’s impossible. What I'm trying to emphasize is that one thing you can do today to help yourself. Even if it’s just applying lotion, making a cup of tea and taking that time for yourself. There doesn't have to be such a barrier to wellness.”

“I really want to destigmatize wellness as a luxury. I'm very much an advocate for the little rituals you can do to nurture yourself.”

<div class="quote-attribute">LEAH CABARDO</div>

Photo by Kelsey Wisdom; Video by Grant Kinsey

POWER PLANTS

In order to craft products that align with her ethos of attainable luxury inspired by nature, Cabardo meticulously sources local ingredients, such as essential oils from Petaluma and olive oils from Carmel Valley, and infuses each formulation with the power of plants. 

“I never want to make something just to make something. There needs to be a use for the herb,” she says. For Ouchie Acupuncture and Asian Medicine in Monterey, she created a room spray with mugwort to help with lucid dreams. For Hunt, in Carmel Valley, she makes an exclusive Soap On A Rope with yellow Brazilian clay, thought to stimulate collagen formation. Her calendula and chamomile soap is skin-soothing, while others contain icelandic black sand or jojoba and castor beads for gentle exfoliation. 

A student of herbalism, perfumery and aromatherapy, Cabardo also blends all her own fragrances. “I’m such a believer in the power of scent in terms of reviving memories or reminding you of a particular time in your life,” she says. “You can awaken a certain part of a person’s senses they didn’t feel before.”

SPACE TO DWELL

When Cabardo met Dr. Stephanie Faddis of Ouchie Acupuncture, their interests in holistic health and education aligned. They soon began brewing the ideas for their signature workshop series, Space To Dwell. “Stephanie really wanted to expand outside of the patient room and contribute to the community,” says Cabardo, who relished the opportunity to deepen her own connections to the area. “I’ve lived in cities with so many people and never felt such a strong sense of community until I moved here.” 

With the goal of empowering people through their bodies and health, the two brought in local contributors and developed a curriculum for day retreats, with Cabardo taking the helm on courses about skincare, incense and even food. “A super passion of mine is wellness and beauty through food. My parents are amazing home chefs, so I definitely learned to nourish myself through food. Growing up, it’s what brought all our Filipino families together.” 

While the retreat offerings rotate each season, they are always ritual-based. Past sessions included treatments, hands-on experiences and education around acupuncture and reiki with Dr. Faddis, sound healing with Rebecca Wierman, adaptogenics with Krista Tarantino of Earth Milk Moon, and florals with Melissa McArdle of Mobo Blooms. Cabardo also leads monthly herbalism webinars to provide attendees with practical ways to incorporate herbs into their daily lives.

“We cannot be the best versions of ourselves in our own individual silos. We need a community to be happy and thrive, to be supported and nourished. Whatever is weighing you down, leave it at the door and let’s focus on eachother.”

<div class="quote-attribute">LEAH CABARDO</div>


“We’re so programmed in this modern culture to do a nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, and live for the weekends. Everything almost seems robotic. We need to be more fluid and listen to our bodies,” Cabardo says. “You need to nurture yourself and do those self care rituals.” 

With more collaborations, launches, and events on the horizon for summer, Cabardo hopes to continue growing BY TIDE and Space To Dwell to help people reinvest in themselves, and to connect with nature and those around them.

“We cannot be the best versions of ourselves in our own individual silos. We need a community to be happy and thrive, to be supported and nourished. Whatever is weighing you down, leave it at the door and let’s focus on eachother.”

BY TIDE is available locally at Hunt, Lilify, Tejido Collective, Elroy’s Fine Foods and Ouchie as well as online at bytide.co. Visit Space To Dwell for upcoming retreats and herbalism classes. <img src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/6457f19f1c1e1601e2c9c3f6/6487a9355b63a6818c705cea_CC-Icon--20.svg"alt="CC"height="20" width="20">

Photo courtsey of BY TIDE

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CC moments

Leah Cabardo

01

My happy place is

Walking along Carmel beach at sunset with my partner and rescue dog.

02

I always start my day with

A matcha latte and a 10 minute meditation

03

When I want a little adventure I

Head toward Big Sur for hiking and bites at Big Sur Bakery.

04

My self-care staple is

Sauna, steam, and cold plunge at Refuge Spa in Carmel Valley. I bring a book and spend all day there!

05

I’m always inspired by

The architecture and landscaped gardens of Carmel-by-the-Sea homes.

06

Every summer I look forward to

Balmy days out in Carmel Valley, river bathing, the return of my garden produce, and beach meetups!

07

CC moments

Leah Cabardo

01

My happy place is

Walking along Carmel beach at sunset with my partner and rescue dog.

02

I always start my day with

A matcha latte and a 10 minute meditation

03

When I want a little adventure I

Head toward Big Sur for hiking and bites at Big Sur Bakery.

04

My self-care staple is

Sauna, steam, and cold plunge at Refuge Spa in Carmel Valley. I bring a book and spend all day there!

05

I’m always inspired by

The architecture and landscaped gardens of Carmel-by-the-Sea homes.

06

Every summer I look forward to

Balmy days out in Carmel Valley, river bathing, the return of my garden produce, and beach meetups!

07

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