There are times when you meet someone and immediately think, “Oh, there you are. I’ve missed you.” You feel as if you’ve known that person forever: dreamed, traveled, laughed, cried, and grown up together. Such was my first conversation with April Gargiulo. Our talk meandered seamlessly between subjects such as the meaning of craft, how to run a business, books we’re reading, raising children, and, of course, skincare.
April is the founder of, and creative force behind, Vintner’s Daughter. If you’ve not yet heard of April or experienced her brand, you need to know that her family’s background in producing wine informs her work and mission for Vintner’s Daughter. April translated principles of quality, resources, and craftsmanship to create extraordinary products for the skin. Vintner’s Daughter is made sustainably through what they describe as the “fewer philosophy,” meaning if one product has multiple benefits, then fewer products need to be produced—hence less waste. Like Alabama Chanin, they source responsibly and use organic ingredients where possible.
All of us at Alabama Chanin are excited to be offering Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum and Active Treatment Essence as part of our new Self Care collection. I was the lucky one to get to speak with April—read along below.
Thank you to April for taking the time to chat with me. I’m grateful for her friendship, the vision she’s created, and, personally, for the skin-changing products.
Natalie Chanin: As a founder, my “big spark of an idea” was a moment standing on a street corner in New York City—all things Alabama Chanin, and the last twenty-one years, lead back to that moment. Your background was originally in the world of wines; what was the spark that inspired your big idea and turn to skincare?
April Gargiulo: Like many first-time moms, when I was pregnant I started looking at the ingredients in many of the “luxury” products I was using. I was shocked to find that many were made from .01% active ingredients and low quality synthetic fillers that were, in many cases, harmful. None of that sat right with me… I come from Napa Valley, a community dedicated to making the finest wines in the world through meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship. Short cuts are not allowed and practically every grain of dirt is considered for its quality. I believe that to make the finest of anything—whether that be a meal or skincare—you must begin with the highest quality raw materials. This is what led me to create Vintner’s Daughter. I wanted to build a true luxury skincare company that made products from the finest ingredients in the world, using time-honored techniques in order to bring about profound and lasting balance and health in the skin.
NC: Was there a big moment or experience that defines Vintner’s Daughter?
AG: There have been many amazing moments along the way including major celebrity mentions—Gwyneth Paltrow, Hailey Bieber, and Tracee Ellis Ross, to name a few. One of the biggest press moments came from Into The Gloss when they wrote a story entitled “The Face Oil to End all Face Oils”… and of course a dedicated story in Vogue was a major moment. But perhaps the greatest moments are from our customer testimonials that we are grateful to receive every day, detailing the impact we are having on their skin. That means everything.
NC: Starting a sustainable business can be a long and sometimes-daunting process. Is there something you are most passionate about from the process of building Vintner’s Daughter?
AG: We exist to not only impact your skin in the most beneficial ways, but to have a positive impact on the world. Social and environmental responsibility are infused into every aspect of our business and have been from day one—this means from sourcing and packaging to distribution, voluntary certifications, and donating 2% of revenue to charities benefiting women, children and the environment. This way of operating requires more time and resources, but we believe it is the best way to do business. We are proud of the strides we have made, but also for our customers and stockist partners. Your and their conscious decision to invest in products made with a sense of responsibility and respect for each other and our planet is what allows us to continue this work. We are deeply grateful for this partnership.
NC: As are we—it means so much to come together with other brands like yours that are working to positively impact people’s lives and the planet. By the same token, what has been the hardest part of building your brand and community?
AG: Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they come in a basket covered with thorns. That is how I try to look at challenges, both professionally and personally—as something I can learn from. An early professional challenge was when I took my formula to the top labs in the world. I was turned away time and time again because they told me that no product should take over 6 hours to produce, much less the three weeks it takes to make every bottle of Vintner’s Daughter. They encouraged me to substitute synthetics, powders and extracts for my powerful whole botanicals. They said “Trust us. It will be cheaper, faster and better.” Thankfully, I didn’t follow their advice and trusted my own gut. As a result, our products are able to communicate with skin in a profound way that amplifies the skin’s own powers of rejuvenation, healing, brightening, firming and radiance. This would never have been possible with cheap extracts, powders and synthetics. Of course, today I’m happy that I stood my ground, but at the time it felt crushing.
NC: I’m so grateful to Erin Lee Smith at ByGeorge in Austin for urging me to try Vintner’s Daughter for the first time. I’m very sensitive to products with strong aromas and am wary of trying new skincare lines. Erin gave me testers and said, ”Just try it.”
I also have to admit that my friends joke that I sometimes live and work in my own world, and that I find myself “a bit late to the party.” You started your business in 2013; however, I’m so grateful to have recently found my way to Vintner’s Daughter and your amazing community. I’ve struggled my entire life with dry skin and have finally found my cure, but also know the products are great for all different skin types. How is this possible?
AG: I love this question because it goes right to the heart of how we craft our products. We are able to work and communicate with so many different skin types because of our proprietary Phyto Radiance Infusion process, which is what drives our products’ extraordinary performance and skin health. To craft it, we begin with the world’s most nutrient-rich whole plants that are sourced from conscious growers who share our sustainability values. These extraordinary botanicals have been coveted for centuries for their medicinal and nutritional properties and, over the course of three temperature-controlled weeks, we gently extract their full spectrum of nutrition. As a result, every drop of our formulas are recognized by the skin and are able to deliver optimal skin-healing, balancing and rejuvenating nutrition. The skin’s own powers of healing, regeneration, and balance are amplified to create real and lasting change, in just two extraordinarily crafted steps, Active Treatment Essence and Active Botanical Serum.
NC: We have more in common than building our sustainable businesses:
Alabama Chanin was named after my daughter—(whose middle name is Alabama—in a long tradition of girls getting “state names”). I was pregnant as I began to imagine what Alabama Chanin might be and I recently read that Vintner’s Daughter was formed in a similar way—while you were pregnant with your daughter.
I’m inspired by how you’ve forged your own path over the last decade while staying true to your imagination for Vintner’s Daughter. This level of commitment to planet and community is admirable and requires a strong vision.
What is the north star that guides you as you move forward?
AG: The world is waking up to the true costs of our consumption and it is something we have thought about since day one. It is why we produce fewer, but more finely made products that deliver multi-beneficial results because there is nothing more sustainable than less. So the future for us is to continue to follow this north star of creating only game-changing products that offer incredible value to our customers’ lives.
NC: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
AG: Don’t rush yourself. Gain experience and knowledge with every step. Know your mission inside and out and follow it truthfully. It might not feel like a straight line and that is okay. In the end, you have to decide what makes the most sense for you and follow that journey truthfully, with a full heart and a lot of hustle.
NC: What do you tell young entrepreneurs about building a business and community?
AG: Set your vision and pursue it with everything you have. Surround yourself with incredible people who can help you achieve your goals. Be disciplined and focused and stay on track. There will be lots of shiny, glittery objects to distract you. Remember what your north star is and keep moving towards it. And when you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Be generous and help others on their path. And lastly, let gratitude be the virtue that underscores everything you do.
NC: After the last few years of deep challenges for humanity and sustainable businesses, I keep thinking about the next challenge I want to create for myself and my own creative journey.
What’s your next most exciting challenge?
AG: We are currently in the final stages of becoming a certified B Corporation. It has not been a small undertaking but we are so excited for it to be official and to be able to finally share this with our community. We will always be committed to improving and reducing our footprint, from sourcing to packaging to purchasing carbon offsets and beyond, and we are looking forward to formalizing this process as a member.
NC: Congratulations! That’s an incredible achievement and undoubtedly a lot of work. But very much worth it.
What’s your next most exciting adventure?
AG: I still have a long way to go on this current adventure! Building a heritage, luxury beauty company that takes positive impact seriously.
NC: I love to crawl inside the creative process of people I admire. Are there a few words or actions that describe how you approach creativity?
AG: I’ve done the work to have a very clear mission. Through Vintner’s Daughter I want to have a profoundly positive impact on the skin, lives and world of our community. This is what inspires and ignites me every day. How this comes to life is something I’m continually exploring through books, travel, friends, time in nature and meditation.
Vintner’s Daughter is also a cruelty-free brand, which donates 2% of every product sold to charitable foundations. Explore the products in our Self Care collection.