As moms, we’re always looking to try to streamline our routines, including how we take care of our skin. That’s why we were so intrigued when we started hearing about Vintner’s Daughter, a simple, two product line that everyone was praising. Definition of everyone? Gwyneth Paltrow. Allure magazine. The New York Times. The Cut. The Gloss. Refinery 29. Seriously, every authority on skincare has fallen in love with these products, so we knew we had to speak with founder (and mom to two girls, 5 and 7) April Gargiulo to find out why her products are so different from everything else out there, how she’s grown a cult following and why she’s building her brand deliberately (read: for the long haul).
I read that your background is actually in fine wine making, not beauty?
That’s right—I come from the world of Napa Valley wine making, which is the world’s best example of taking a raw material and honoring it, and making it something more through a meticulous process. I had an incredible respect for the men and women who put Napa Valley on the map. I loved how committed they were to the idea of the very best, the highest quality and the most comprehensive expression of their brand. I also had always struggled with my skin—with cystic acne and discoloration and other fun stuff that comes with aging. I was using what I thought were the best products (the most expensive and most talked about). One day I started looking at the ingredients and realized that while I had been paying $200 for these products, most had only .01 percent of active ingredients and were full of fillers, some of which were toxic. So I was paying $200 for something that was costing maybe $1 to make…and in reality it’s far less. None of that sat right with me, coming from the [Napa Valley wine-making] world of never taking shortcuts.
So how did Vintner’s Daughter grow from that realization?
I wanted to bring the same philosophical idea of winemaking, and of quality at all costs, to skincare. We wanted to make products that were uncompromisingly performance driven, multifunctional, made with the finest ingredients in the world and completely safe. I also wanted as few as possible steps. The first product I launched was Active Botanical Serum and that was 5 years ago. Three years ago we launched Active Treatment Essence.
After you created the serum, how did you get the word out?
I sent one hundred emails to friends and family announcing our “launch”, and what grew out of that was an incredible, what I call “g to g” or girlfriend to girlfriend, movement. People were literally getting stopped on the street. It became this beloved, coveted product around the world and we’re very lucky.
With such demand, why not scale up faster than two products in five years?
We are doing the opposite of what standard skincare companies do. When you have a product as beloved as Active Botanical Serum, the standard skincare business protocol is to quickly introduce 15 to 20 new products every few months, driven by marketing strategy and revenue. But for us we only want to introduce game-changing products that add value to our customers’ lives. We’re not motivated by filling a shelf or vanity. Every bottle of Serum takes 21 days to make and Essence takes 35 days. We begin with whole plants and we take them through an infusion process. It’s like a meal replacement bar versus organic meals prepared by food with ingredients from local farmers.
Love this simple routine—perfect for busy mom life. Was that a consideration for you?
Yes…for me, wellness and self-care isn’t spending an hour in the bathroom. For me it’s spending time with my family and outdoors. I wanted all the performance in as few steps as possible. So much skincare is created through a marketing lens—they’re trying to divide up the products. There is no reason to not include the most beneficial plant actives in one bottle. We even developed application techniques to deliver the products most effectively, a push pat and push press technique.
Why is giving back part of your business model?
From Day 1 we felt we had an obligation to give back in the ways that we can. We work with some of the most amazing charities benefiting women and children around the world, as we know when we support women that is what helps children.
Fabulous! Besides your Serum and Essence, what products do you use daily?
I use a gentle cleaner at night and an SPF in the morning or a tinted SPF. I do the essence and serum in the morning and at night. Both products are beautiful under makeup.
What is your biggest challenge (or best strategy) as a working mom?
The biggest one is that there has been boundaries around my travel. There are many opportunities I say no to because I want to be there for my kids’ first day of school or recital. Thankfully our plan for Vintner’s Daughter is a long one. We aren’t in a race to the finish. We can honor where we are as a business and where I am at with my family.