April Gargiulo, CEO & Founder of Vintner's Daughter

April Gargiulo

Founder & CEO of Vintner's Daughter

Vintner’s Daughter is a bit of an anomaly in the skincare industry. It’s a brand with just two products, Active Treatment Essence and Active Botanical Serum; both of which are made in a timely fashion, in order to obtain the most out of each botanical ingredient. Despite what might be considered two big set-backs, almost everyone in the skincare industry has heard of Vintner’s Daughter, many of whom have tried their products and go on to use them regularly. Among them are celebrities that include Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts, and Hailey Bieber.

A telephone call with April a few months back left me in awe. She’s incredibly warm, passionate, and down-to-earth, as well as being savvy and remarkably successful. I wanted to learn more about what makes her tick, how she overcomes life’s challenges and, hopefully, find out what we can all do to be more successful in our own lives.

The Interview

Could you tell me a little about yourself?

I joyfully juggle quite a few roles, from CEO and Founder to mother, wife and daughter. I am an investor in several amazing woman-led brands which I love, and I am fanatical about tea, gin, gardens, chocolate and just about anything to do with the worlds of botanicals. I don’t have a lot of rules for living other than to listen to my body and soul carefully. 

What motivates you to keep pushing forward and evolving as a person?

I want to help people see their true beauty outside the confines of what the mass media would have us believe. So much of the beauty world is fuelled by fear and insecurity. I want people to choose beauty out of a love for themselves and their beautiful skin. That is a lifelong mission.

What traits do you believe make a woman strong?

I think strength and confidence are some of the most beautiful qualities a woman can possess. Finding the people, things, moments and places that help you uncover and feed that strength is a life’s work. So many of us are all on that road of self-discovery and it is beautiful to see.

How do you think your friends would describe you?

I hope; supportive, kind and down for an adventure.

Vintner's Daughter
April Gargiulo, CEO & Founder of Vintner's Daughter

Was there an experience that led you to create your business(es)?

I struggled with my skin my entire life. I was someone who like many was dealing with cystic acne, pigmentation and all the fun things that come along with getting older. I was using what I thought were the very best “luxury” products. They were the most expensive and were written about often in glossy magazines. One day I started looking at the ingredients. I was shocked to realise that they were 0.01% active ingredients, the rest was low quality filler that was also in many cases toxic. Coming from where I was coming from, 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. That to me is the true definition of luxury; beginning with the finest raw materials and honouring them through the most thoughtful formulation practices to achieve something even greater than the parts. 

This was the genesis of Vintner’s Daughter. I wanted to build a true luxury skincare company that made products from the finest ingredients in the world, using time-honoured techniques in order to bring about profound and lasting balance and health in the skin. It sounds lofty, but I wanted to build a skincare company on the same philosophical foundations as the winemaking world I had come from. I am grateful to have achieved that and more. We are making a positive impact on the health and balance of our customers’ skin through our whole plant nutritional skincare, and we are helping to build confidence by improving their relationship to their skin. We exist to not only impact skin in the most beneficial ways, but to have a positive impact on the world. We do this by infusing social and environmental responsibility into every aspect of our business.That is everything to us.

What is your morning routine?

I love my morning routine which always starts with a giant pot of loose leaf tea. Most mornings it is Oolong or Jasmine Green Tea, but occasionally Pu-Erh or Red Tea is needed. I have several different tea pots that I rotate between and they each have significance to me. For breakfast, I generally eat a piece of gluten-free toast with oat milk butter and honey. I workout in the morning and meditate, but if I don’t get to it, I try to adjust my schedule and do it in the afternoon. Both are pretty non-negotiable for me. For skincare, I cleanse with something generally creamy and gentle. I then apply Active Treatment Essence followed by Active Botanical Serum and do a few minutes of face massage which I love. In those two simple steps, Active Treatment Essence followed by Active Botanical Serum, I know I am giving my skin everything it needs to be its very best. It is very freeing not to be beholden to an elaborate multi-step routine. I finish with a SPF, mascara and brow gel.

Vintner's Daughter

What challenges have you overcome, personally and professionally?

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 beautiful 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. Personally, I often find myself going against the grain and not accepting the status quo or doing what everyone else is doing, which can be a challenge. I’m constantly looking for others who have and are going their own way for inspiration.

What do you do when things aren’t going well, and you need a lift?

When things aren’t going well, I turn towards my gratitude and loving kindness practice even more. It’s a simple thing, but has a profound impact. I ask myself what I need to learn from whatever is going on and try to find the silver lining. I also lean on my girlfriends and long nature walks quite a bit during hard times. For me, movement is always super important when I need to shift my energy.

What do you do daily to take care of yourself?

The best thing I do for myself every day is meditation. I have practiced zen meditation for about 15 years. I also eat a plant-based diet and don’t consume much caffeine and processed foods. I do some kind of movement everyday from hiking to pilates. Ultimately, I try not to have too many rules or restrictions. I prefer to follow my body and intuition.

What does balance look like to you?

It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it and it doesn’t happen magically. It takes work and prioritising, somewhat brutally at times. I have to say no quite a bit of the time even if it’s events, opportunities or partnerships that would be lucrative and/or fun. Ultimately, it’s my choice and I don’t always make the right ones, but it’s very clear when I don’t. My body immediately tells me. I’m getting better at listening and honouring those feelings, but it’s not always easy.

How does what you wear affect how you feel?

I dress for the way I’m feeling on any given day. It’s a fun way to express yourself and set the tone for whatever lies ahead.

What do you wish you had known when you started your business(es)?

That it’s all about the team. No matter how great of an idea or product you have, if you don’t have a talented, mission-aligned team around you, you will never succeed.

How many hours a week do you work? Has that changed over time?

I love my work, so I work quite a bit and always have. Some weeks are 30 hours and some are 60+ hours. The balance of what I focus on has changed over the years from more tactical day to day stuff to more strategic, larger picture dreaming. But when I’m off, I’m off. Luckily, I don’t have a problem shutting down my work brain.

What have been the highs and lows of your business, so far?

Gratefully, the highs come daily through testimonials from our incredible community and working with my amazing team. The lows are less frequent, but more times than not have led to great personal and professional growth. As annoying as they may be in the moment, the lows are where the magic can happen if you are open to it.

April Gargiulo, CEO & Founder of Vintner's Daughter

What worries do you have about the future?

I worry about the world my kids will inherit.

It is why we have woven sustainability and social impact into every part of our business. We just received Climate Neutral and California Green Business Certification at the very highest levels which is important, but perhaps the biggest thing we do for the environment is produce fewer and better products. This is not only better for your skin, but better for the world’s resources as well.

Who or what makes you happy?

My family, old growth forests, tea, my friends, birds singing, customer testimonials. I have many things to be grateful for.

How do you give back to the community?

I believe it is our duty to give back — because gratitude means acknowledging all that has been given and joyfully giving in return. From the beginning, Vintner’s Daughter has donated 2% of every purchase to charitable organisations and non-profits dedicated to protecting, educating, and empowering women and children around the world. This commitment comes from a place of deep respect for our intrinsic connection and responsibility to one another. Each year we select more than ten charities making an impact and donate funds to help support the incredible work they do.

Which book has had the biggest impact on your life?

Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steven Hagen. It is never far from my bedside.

What are you most proud of?

Creating a skincare brand that helps people connect to their beautiful skin in a joyful and confident way. We are a skin-driven company versus a revenue-driven company, which sounds revolutionary in today’s world. So much about the beauty industry is intended to break that trusted connection to yourself in order to sell the next new product. We have deliberately set ourselves outside that commodity-led paradigm to create timeless products that change people’s relationship to their skin in deeply positive ways. That is something I am very proud of. 

Which women inspire you, and why?

Any person who is confident and joyful in their own skin inspires me. I’m lucky to have a really amazing group of girlfriends who all inspire me through their generosity and confidence.

If you would like to be inspired by more incredible women, who have learned to balance success with self-care, please take a look at the other Women Who Inspire interviews.