the beauty of it all

The Woman Behind Vintner’s Daughter

Photo: Courtesy of April Gargiulo

When Vintner’s Daughter creator April Gargiulo first started working on a clean and gentle, yet effective face serum, inspired by her own skin issues, the product had some competition — of her own making.

At the time, she was also forming two other companies —a local wine label and a superfood-infused nut butter. Her serial entrepreneur husband suggested a makeshift presentation.

“I remember that moment so vividly; we were in our kitchen,” remembers Gargiulo. “After explaining the first two products, I got to Vintner’s Daughter, and that’s when everything shifted — my body language, my enthusiasm level. My husband said, ‘The choice is very clear to me!’ And that’s what pushed Vintner’s Daughter forward.”

Raised in Naples, Florida, Gargiulo spent summers in the Napa Valley, where her mother’s family grew grapes. After graduating from Duke, Gargiulo moved to New York and worked at design firms, including Vitra. When the family vineyard decided to make their own wine, Gargiulo and her husband moved to California. After nine years, they took a sabbatical in Spain, where several life decisions came to light, including the desire to start her own company.

In 2014, she launched Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, a rich formula made from 22 plant-derived oils and extracts. With no PR, much less any experience in the beauty world, Gargiulo chalks its initial growth to G-to-G (girlfriend-to-girlfriend) marketing.

“Daughters were telling moms, co-workers were sharing it, people got stopped on the street, asked about their skin.”

The serum made it into the hands of a few makeup artists (Mary Phillips, Alice Lane, Andrea Tiller), who used used it on the faces of Tracee Ellis Ross and Gwyneth Paltrow, and Into the Gloss wrote about it. Very quickly, the product went from selling 30 bottles a day to 300 a day.

After that initial success, Gargiulo and team waited five years before launching Active Treatment Essence, which came out last month. She describes it as the water-based yin to the serum’s yang.

“The Essence’s aqueous format enables us to add a fermented component,” she explains. “And because of the three-week-long extraction process, the ingredients are in the most ideal ratios, enabling them to amplify one another.”

That being said, she’s in no rush to add a third to the symbiosis. “I’d love a body product or a cleanser one day, if we could crack those codes, but they’d have to be transformative, category-defining game changers to earn a Vintner’s Daughter label,” says Gargiulo. “Two products in seven years. Maybe we’ll do another one in year ten.”

Garguilo spoke with the Cut about her discomfort with nail polish and bridges, her basket-weaving skills, and her favorite (and free!) hairstyling product.

Bath or shower? Shower, with homemade exfoliating body polish.

Most relied on hairstyling product and/or tool: Fresh air.

Body lotion of choice: International Orange.

Facial cleanser of choice: Beauty Counter Nourishing Cleanser.

Fragrance of choice: In Fiore Baisers de Jasmin.

What shade, if any, is usually on your toes and/or hands? I do not wear color on my nails. Strangely, it makes me claustrophobic.

What beauty look do you struggle with achieving? Anything past mascara.

What beauty look do you just not get? The idea of “flawless” beauty is not very interesting to me. I like the things that make people unique and different.

What was your first beauty product obsession? Lip Smackers, root-beer flavor.

Daily carryall: I have a Want Les Essentiels bag for my computer and a Bandolier cross-body phone case, which also holds my credit cards.

Work shoe of choice: Boots of some sort, generally. Brother Vellies, Laurence Dacade, Celine, Doc Martens.

Weekend shoe of choice: Sneakers. Anything Nike.

Go-to earrings: I have three different earrings on at any given time. Today, it’s a rose-gold safety pin a friend gave to me, a diamond stud from my mom, and a T-bar-style earring I bought from Stella and Dot years ago.

Top item currently at the top of your fashion wish list: A Valentino dress.

Fashion item you would never wear: Fur.

What do you have too many of? Floral dresses.

Favorite travel destination: Uruguay.

Wish-list travel destination: Mexico City.

Still or sparkling? Both.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? I’m generally risk-averse.

What are you terrified of? Driving over bridges.

What is intriguing you lately? Desert X.

What could we use more of these days, in general and in beauty? Truth.

Less of? Plastic.

Jet-lag cure: A swim.

Cold cure: Spicy soup.

Headache cure: Water.

Sadness cure: Gratitude practice.

Favorite smell? The forest.

Least favorite smell? Synthetic fragrance.

What item stresses you out if you’re running low on it? Chocolate. My favorite is K + M dark chocolate.

Name a trait or talent you possess that few know about: I love to weave baskets.

Favorite meal and where: Kimchi green-bean tempura at the Progress in San Francisco.

Favorite piece of furniture in your home? Gio Ponti table.

What do you foresee as the top beauty trends in 2019? Even more individuality and celebrating all definitions of beauty.

What product in your domain is misunderstood and should be a best seller? Essences. They are known as “transformational waters” and can effect great change in skin. Our Active Treatment Essence takes the category and up-levels it with the very best in next-gen plant actives to offer unprecedented multi-correctional performance.

What product is currently your favorite (understanding that this could change all the time)? We only produce game-changing products and choosing one is like choosing one of your kids. I love them both.

If you won the Power Ball tomorrow, what are the first five things you would do? (after, of course, donating the majority of it to your top charities …) Create a self-sustaining, personal wellness compound somewhere warm and beautiful, where I could be completely off the grid with my family and friends.

The Woman Behind Vintner’s Daughter