Tonic and Sage is the venture of Miko DiHoniesto, a Pittsburgh native who grew up mostly in Squirrel Hill. She says she started getting into skin care out of necessity.
“When I was a teenager, my skin was really sensitive and dry. So I realized that I needed to care for my skin in a different way than the rest of my family did, or even like other people around me, like my friends,” she says. “So I started making body care for myself when I was a teenager and it just became part of my routine. And then, maybe in my early twenties, I decided that I wanted to start a business.”
After being laid off from a previous job, DiHoniesto started doing research into body care before fully launching Tonic and Sage in 2020.
Part of her research involved studying herbalism, widely defined as the practice of creating plant-based herbal remedies for medical conditions. She says she feels like the practice of studying herbalism is ongoing, and that she still continues to learn and grow in her understanding of the field.
For body care, Tonic and Sage mainly offers “body buttah,” “body oyl,” and balms. Some common ingredients found in these products are shea butter, mango butter, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, and scented oils like lavender and rosemary.
The process of finding the right ingredients for each product took some time, says DiHoniesto.
“I knew shea butter had to be one of the main choices. So I sourced from a company that offers fair trade products and organic products, and that took a little bit of time to find,” she says. “I think that narrowing it down to products or ingredients that I know very well and am used to working with, and that a lot of people can relate to and have heard about was important. For me, ingredient sourcing is more about relatability and familiarity rather than the newest rarest ingredient. I'm not trying to ruin a rainforest. I'm trying to be sustainable in all ingredients.”
Tonic and Sage’s products are also vegan-friendly, and that was intentional on the part of DiHoniesto.
“It's important for me to have products that are vegan-friendly because there's not too many on the market that can truly be represented as safe for vegans,” she says. “I’m not saying that vegan is the ultimate kind of lifestyle choice, but if you have more things that are vegan-friendly, then ultimately, you're making your products more accessible. And that's what I want to represent in my product line, I want accessibility and I want people to use my products no matter where they're coming from in life. So whatever skin sensitivities they have, allergies, and lifestyle choices that they adhere to.”
Like other Black-owned businesses that started around the pandemic, DiHoniesto says she saw a boom in business when the summer of protests happened in 2020. The call to support Black businesses was strong in Pittsburgh, and many residents were ready to answer. While DiHoniesto says the increased awareness doesn’t make it any easier to be Black in Pittsburgh, it was nice to see the support for her business.
DiHoniesto then earned a scholarship to run a booth at the weekly Bloomfield Saturday Market. She says that this, in turn with being added to lists of Black-owned businesses in the area, quickly gained her a lot of recognition, and allowed her business to thrive.
As for sales, DiHoniesto says her favorite product is the body buttah, and that her customer base are big fans of the 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 put you to sleep and relax you. It's just got nourishing shea butter, cocoa butter, murumuru butter, and yeah, that one is a real stakeholder.”
Tonic and Sage products are available online at tonicandsage.com, or you can find them in-store at love, Pittsburgh, Moonbeam Cafe, Arm Full of Flowers, and Ceremonial.