45 - April Gargiulo, Vintner's Daughter

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This is a podcast episode titled, 45 - April Gargiulo, Vintner's Daughter. The summary for this episode is: <p>In Episode 45 of Earned, Conor sits down with April Gargiulo, founder and CEO of nutrient-powered luxury skincare brand Vintner’s Daughter. We start the episode by learning why April, whose family owns the renowned Gargiulo Vineyards in Napa Valley, California, applies the same principles of quality and craftsmanship principles at the heart of winemaking to Vintner’s Daughter, as evidenced by the brand’s limited product range. April reveals how her disappointment in product quality from “luxury” skincare brands led her to create Vintner’s Daughter, and explains why she follows her own skincare playbook. We also discuss how April creates a healthy work-life balance, as she shares how her goals are not to build a “scale-and-sale” company, but a brand that positively impacts consumers’ skin and lives. Next, we learn about Vintner’s Daughter’s years-long proprietary product development process, then close the show with April’s philosophies for driving organic word-of-mouth brand awareness. </p>
April's Dedication to Quality and Craftsmanship
07:37 MIN
April on Following her North Star
03:57 MIN
Vintner's Daughter's Extensive Product Development Process + What's Next
05:01 MIN
How April Sets Guardrails Between Her Personal and Professional Life
03:21 MIN
How Vintner's Daughter Drives Word of Mouth
02:26 MIN

Conor Begley: I had a really awesome time with April today. I think she's done such a fantastic job of finding balance, between her personal life and her business, as well as creating products that I think will really, lasts the kind of test of time. And I think we learned specifically about how her family has influenced that mindset in that philosophy. Remember, that if you enjoyed the show today, to be a friend, tell a friend and subscribe. Thanks everyone. Enjoy the show.

Intro: Influencers, inspiration and Instagram, Instagram, Instagram. This, is Earned by Tribe Dynamics. Here's Conor Begley.

Conor Begley: Welcome to Earned everybody. Today we have one of the most focused entrepreneurs, I have ever met, April Gargiulo. Welcome to the show April.

April Gargiulo: Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. I'm just always so happy when my last name gets pronounced right. That was really well done.

Conor Begley: And I actually didn't even ask you in the prep before the call. I usually do that. So I'm glad I got it right.

April Gargiulo: You nailed it.

Conor Begley: Well, for those that don't know, April. Her family farm founded and she helped to run the renowned Gargiulo vineyards in Napa Valley, where you guys producing, some of the most highly touted wines in the world. And then since then you've started your own brand. It looks like with a lot of similar philosophies to the way that you guys approach the wine making business Vintner's Daughter, which has become a favorite both of, consumers, influencers, celebrities. I think one of the most interesting parts about it, is it's highly focused, right? So both the vineyard, as well as your brand have a very, very limited number of products, right? So for you guys, you've got the two cult products, Active Essence Treatment and Active Botanical Serum, which you spent years developing both. And I am like, I'm really excited to dive in on that because I think that, when you look at the way that most people build their brands, whether it's a winery or it's a skincare brand or otherwise. It's always about new, new, new, new, new. How can we, grow as fast as we possibly can? And I think you've taken a different approach there, which I think there's a lot to learn from. So I'm excited.

April Gargiulo: Thanks for that amazing introduction. I appreciate it.

Conor Begley: So let's start with the entrepreneurship side of things. Right? So for me, I didn't grow up necessarily in a family of entrepreneurs. Although my grandpa, I guess kind of was in some ways. What is it that you think attracted your family, to that lifestyle and then ultimately attracted you as well. Right? Cause I don't know that everybody in your family decided to kind of push.

April Gargiulo: Right. No, that's a good question. I think, well, I mean, I'll start with my, grandfather who chose agriculture as his entrepreneurial endeavor because he really loved to fish. And so he, this true story, he would grow tomatoes in Florida. He would then, and that was a winter crop. He would grow them, he would sell them all. And then he would grow them for almost for six months and fish. Spend all his money and then come back, start again. And this was his, I mean that he felt like he had, that was, it was everything he ever wanted. And then he had. Right. I mean, not bad. And then he had my dad and his family, Aaron, his brothers and sister, and he's wife was like, this doesn't really work anymore. Once the kids go to school, like we've got to have to get serious. And then, so as soon my father, I think graduated from college, I mean, I think he pretty much said," Okay, I'm done, I've done my time." Now the business is yours. And so my father has done kind of entrepreneurial endeavor since then, but that was something that I don't think he had a big jumping choice in the matter to be honest. He has been like, they've been incredibly amazing about, he went on to create this, this winery. I was never pressured into working at the winery. It was something that I was really excited to do. So there was, I think he learned from his parents, but I mean to some degree, the entrepreneurial spirit was sort of, there wasn't a choice. And then some degree it was, I think it was just everything you know, all you know. And then my mom on the same side grew, I mean, she came from an entrepreneurial family. My grandfather was in real estate and started a real estate business, an insurance business. And then she went on, to do similar, in the similar spaces. And so I think, I don't know, maybe I didn't even have a choice to be honest. I think about it. It doesn't feel like I had... Not that I didn't have a choice, but it just felt like, so something in like that I had to do. I mean, when I was creating Vintner's Daughter, I was parallel patting three different businesses. Right. So-

Conor Begley: What were the other businesses?

April Gargiulo: So the other... Oh my gosh, it's so funny when I think about it Conor. Okay. So one of them was, I still of course, own all the URLs for these crazy things. One of them was a low calorie wine. It was called Skinny Vine. And this was obviously like a hundred years ago. And then one of them was Mighty Butter and Mighty Pantry, which was super food, infused. Everything was super food infused. Right? Not butters, coconut, all the things. Right? And then skincare Vintner's Daughter. Interestingly I probably knew the most about obviously wine and then food world to a certain degree. And had, I had no experience in the skincare world other than having been somebody who had always been insanely interested in skincare all my life. I always joke that, when all my friends in their twenties were buying really expensive handbags. I was buying really expensive skincare. Anyway so it was, I think it was in many ways, almost like a vocation.

Conor Begley: Yeah. I think that's something where, you're just so engrained in. It doesn't even seem like there's an alternative. And to be honest, I kind of had the reverse, both my dad, he started a company, he's an electromagnetic engineer. He built stuff, technology inaudible and stuff.

April Gargiulo: He's smart.

Conor Begley: And so, but he was at the same company from the time I was cogence until retirement. Then my mom, got her Master's in Psychology and did, was a probation officer. Right. And kind of rose up the ranks and did that, but was at the same county doing the same, department for 30 years. And so from when I was cogence, still when you retired. And so for me being an entrepreneur was like a dirty word. It was like, oh, you don't have a real job. Right.

April Gargiulo: Oh. inaudible. Right, right, right.

Conor Begley: Yeah. The complete opposite, for me. And so for me, it was kind of I had to actually overcome that. When we were first starting the company, I didn't like to tell people that I was starting a company cause I'm like, oh, like you're, so you're unemployed is what you're telling me. Right.

April Gargiulo: Even in the bay area where I feel like, I mean, I feel like I'm an entrepreneur in the bay area, but because I'm not in tech entrepreneur bay area, I feel like I'm in witness protection sometimes.

Conor Begley: Like, oh, you have a company. Like what kind of app?

April Gargiulo: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. Like, oh, it's something you could actually hold in your head and actually apply?

Conor Begley: Yeah. Wait, so I'm curious these kind of failed endeavors or not pursued endeavors, I'll say. So why was Skinny Wine not a thing? I'm actually kind of curious about that.

April Gargiulo: I know. Right. Okay. Well, I will tell you how it, so I was parallel pathing each of these, and I can remember, I mean, I remember this conversation so distinctly I was saying in our kitchen with my husband. And he is actually also a serial entrepreneur by the way. And so he's kind of looking at me saying, you got to pick one, like you... I mean, I think today it's sort of an in thing for people to be doing. I mean, an in thing sounds ridiculous, but it's a little more acceptable that people do more than one thing at a time. But at this point he's looking at me going, April you got to choose something. You got to choose one. Okay. Tell me about each one, told him about Mighty Butter, told him about Skinny Vine. Then I told him about Vintner's Daughter. And I think it was just very clear by how I was talking about, I mean, I probably talked about Skinny Vine for two minutes. Mighty Butter for five. And then with kind of my eyes, all alive spoke about Vintner's Daughter for 15 minutes or something. And so, I mean, it became very clear, which one I should focus on just from that. And it was the one to your point. It was the one that I kind of almost didn't have a choice in the matter, it was the one that I just felt like I really needed to pursue.

Conor Begley: Yeah. I don't know how people do the multi- business thing. I mean, you're kind of doing it right. But I remember when we first started Tribe, I was like really dead set on creating food delivery company, which ironically have they've done very well over the years.

April Gargiulo: Wait. Really?

Conor Begley: Yeah. So, well, I'll tell you the idea, right? So, we called it Nomnom Neighbor and what it was basically, right, so you have all these people, that are sitting around, that make meals. Right. They make these beautiful meals, but it's much easier to make two portions of the same thing than it is to make one portion of one thing. Right. And so the idea was-

April Gargiulo: What. You'll order a food.

Conor Begley: Right. And so you allow neighbors to cook for each other. Right. They could get ratings and reviews and do all this kind of stuff and-

April Gargiulo: Listen. I think this is genius.

Conor Begley: Right. And then you have... Because you have a lot of people that are stay at home moms that are like to earn income and they could do this.

April Gargiulo: Go for it. It would've given. I mean it, would've given a rise to ghost kitchens way before.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Well, and then on top of that too, right. Assuming you're doing it, you can pitch it as like you're building closer neighborhoods. Right. People know each other better. And you actually can cut out, all of the delivery. Right. Because you literally walk down the street and pick it up. And so I think it's a real thing. I mean there is one issue. Right. Which is, it's definitely illegal. So you have to have... So that's the only issue. So the...

April Gargiulo: Why there? Why there? Wait, which part of it is illegal? Just because you're cutting out restaurants or the somebody's not getting inaudible.

Conor Begley: No. It's kind of bullshit. Right? But basically what it is if you cook hot food, you have to have certain things.

April Gargiulo: Oh licenses.

Conor Begley: You have to like a certain kind of kitchen to prevent-

April Gargiulo: Right, right.

Conor Begley: But I think you can figure that out. And at the time if you remember this was a while ago, right. And this was kind of when the cool thing was being like, I'm Uber, the laws don't matter. I'm just going to break the rules until somebody or I'm Airbnb, the laws don't matter. I'm just going to break the walls crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: That's what I was just thinking. How did those guys get around it?

Conor Begley: I mean it was consumer demand. Right? Consumers really wanted it. And eventually laws changed. Yeah. But anyways, so we had the website built, we had a launch plan. We were going to go kind of start with a very small neighborhood in San Francisco because we wanted it be concentrated. And then I was like I can't do this. I can't do two businesses. It just doesn't. I can't. I can't. So, and maybe that happens later. Right? Once you become a little bit more mature as a business. Right? That requires less of your individual effort. But-

April Gargiulo: Well, I don't know. I wanted to create a gin business for, I don't know. Probably as long as I've wanted to create Vintner's Daughter. Maybe a couple years later and haven't been able to figure out the time to do that.

Conor Begley: No. It's crazy. So I'm curious. So one of the things was interesting for me in, when you meet your significant other. Right? You get to observe how their family works. I think her family is, very well run. They do a really good and well run in the best kind of way. Right? They like, do a good job, the family, they're very intentional. And so, one of the things they talk about is they actually have family values. Right? So it's family, faith, humor, and hard work. Right? Those are the things. So what I'm curious about, is if any of your kind of family values considering the heritage of entrepreneurship. Kind of, what those were and they don't have to have been stated, but are there particular philosophies or values.

April Gargiulo: Oh for sure. Yes. Absolutely. And I don't think it was something that any one put words to, but it was something that was actioned.

Conor Begley: Yep.

April Gargiulo: Consistently throughout my life and that is quality and craftsmanship. I mean, 100%. I can remember being a little kid and all my other friends were eating Chef Boyardee and I wanted Chef Boyardee so badly in my heart.

Conor Begley: You weren't getting any, what are they called? Lunchables, snackables whatever those were.

April Gargiulo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: No lunchables.

April Gargiulo: Absolutely not. No. My dad was carrying his own, was carrying his own meats. Was making his own salami. Was making his own pasta. And so it was very much this, with both within my house, but then also within the larger community, like Napa Valley. Is this place filled with these incredible people who really have this very deep, deep passion for quality and craftsmanship. It's what, really informed my ideas around luxury. And so when I had this realization, that again, I said that I was the person buying expensive skincare, not expensive bags. And when I had the realization that this expensive skincare I was buying was really, anything but luxury was when I started thinking about Vintner's Daughter. I recognize that these products, they were$ 300 products. Insanely expensive and there was no quality in craftsmanship that was going into them. Right? It was all packaging. And for me, growing up in this place where, what was in the bottle, is what mattered most. Right? And with wine making, you have this kind of further level of consideration that you're trying to create something that's going to get better as time is on. Right?

Conor Begley: Yup. Well, you literally have people rating and scoring you, right? Do get 96 points. Do you get... There's nobody doing that really, in these markets. Right? It wasn't how consumers were making decisions. It wasn't based on quality.

April Gargiulo: Oh. Well I don't, I would argue that the point system's not necessary.

Conor Begley: Well, I didn't mean... That sounds like a sensitive subject in Napa Valley. I didn't mean to.

April Gargiulo: Yeah. I mean, and here's the thing, I will just say this. I mean, maybe it is a sensitive thing. Maybe it's not. We don't participate in it. So I actually, I think for many people they live by the sword and they die by the sword. Right? So we're very lucky that we don't participated in it and we've always sort of stood outside of it, which is we're grateful for that. But what that is, is that you have one person or two people, or even three people who are dictating taste and the flavor profiles for every single wine drinker. I mean, that's just isn't, I mean that's way too much power for any one person to wield, for to create any kind of healthy ecosystem for any industry. Right? But anyway, yeah. I mean, so back to the family values, I would say, quality and craftsmanship, absolutely totally infused into everything we did.

Conor Begley: Is there, I mean, something else that's interesting about that to me, right. Is there, so there's a quality and craftsmanship, which is a big part of it. It also seems like focus is a really big part of it. Right? So, being intensely focused both from a business perspective, but also from a life perspective, like your grandfather. Of course, he loves fishing and he does that, but that's a really important value. Right? That's a demonstration of values to the family. Like hey, yes, business is important. Making money is important, but doing the things that you love or-

April Gargiulo: Quality of life.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah. Quality of life is a big deal.

April Gargiulo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: Is that something you feel like has kind of continued on, through the family as an important component?

April Gargiulo: I think it is. I think the way that it kind of sees itself, in Vintner's Daughter is that, I'm not building a scale and sale company. Right? It's not what I want to build. I want to build a company that has an extraordinarily positive impact on our customer skin and their lives and our world. And we take that very seriously and that's what drive us. Yes. Do we have to be profitable? Yes. Do we have to have, revenue and growth and all the things? Yes, yes, yes. But I think, in the same way that my grandfather wasn't living to breathe oxygen. He was breathing oxygen so that he could go or he was making money so that he could go fish. He wasn't living to make money. He was doing that to go that he, so he could go pursue his whatever his inaudible was. And for us, I think that's, it's a similar thing. I'm here because I want to make this incredible impact on people's skin. And not again, really just kind of scaling and sailing and selling a company.

Conor Begley: Yeah. That makes sense. It's hard I think when you're in that... I think there's two things. Right? So one it's hard, because there's something that's very rewarding, about achievements, money. Right? It's a recognition. It's a way to validate like oh, my hard work resulted in something. Right? As well as it's really hard from a confidence perspective. Right? You have to be confident that it's going to be enough. Right? Which I think is hard for some people. Validly so, and so it's just really cool. It's really cool that you guys, have been able to find that balance and do it, through this kind of craftsmanship and quality thing. Right? We're going to do a smaller number of things, way better. Right? And we know that's going to be the best way to do it. Right?

April Gargiulo: Hey, and it, and I, to your point, when you see everything around you as being rewarded for far different on, they're like, it's almost everyone else is playing a different game. Right?

Conor Begley: Yep.

April Gargiulo: The rewards are, and the metrics are just completely different than the game, that you want to play. Sometimes I just have to put blinders on because it's, it can kind of erode that confidence, in some ways and make it feel like, oh man, everybody else is doing that. Should I be doing that? That looks much, that just looks like very clear cut. It looks very pretty, pretty easy. I just put out a new product every two weeks and that doesn't feel like that would be that. I mean, work, but you're following a playbook. I'm creating this whole new playbook over here. Right? And so, I mean, there's, there are days that are harder than others Conor, for sure.

Conor Begley: I think you've kind of hit on this already, but you said in another interview, literally what you're saying now, which is, you have to not worry about what everyone else is doing. Find your north star, kind of follow that relentlessly. Would you say kind of what we've talked to already is your north star. Do you have a more defined version of that? What would be your north star if you were to kind of state it.

April Gargiulo: Yeah. I mean the north star is that, through this incredible focus on quality and craftsmanship and impact, and that impact being this positive impact we want to make on our clients and our customers, our community's skin, but also their world. That is what we focus on. That is what we drive to every day.

Conor Begley: And what about for you personally?

April Gargiulo: Well, I mean, listen, I have two girls, so I have two little girls. I really want to, be a good role model for them. I want to have a really healthy family. And so I, have guardrails around work and business to a certain degree. I've been in positions where I had no guardrails and in regards to my... And I didn't, and at the time I didn't have family, I wasn't married and have kids. It was, I was on plane, train and automobiles, 24/ 7 constantly on the go. So one of the things that when I started Vintner's Daughter, I had a very real, and I don't have investors. Right. So let's put that out there. I don't have investors. So I don't have, people breathing down my throat about, what I believe to be unreasonable, unhealthy, ungrowth targets. But again, I'm not trying to sell this company in three years. So for me, my, and this is, I don't know, this is probably this revolutionary thing to say, but I have, my growth targets are 25 to 30% a year. If I can do that every year, I can create this extraordinarily healthy, durable company.

Conor Begley: I mean, people underestimate how quickly, even something like 15% compounds over time. Like it's why-

April Gargiulo: Yes. The power of compounding. Yes. I mean, we all learned that in whatever third or fourth grade, whenever you learned that, but it's real.

Conor Begley: But I remember seeing, a stat then I'm going to butcher this stat, but they listed this company profile. And they were like, okay this company's been growing somewhere between 25 and 60% a year. Every year for 15 years in a row. It listed all these different stats, what is the company? And you're people picked out names and it was Amazon. And people are like Amazon? Like what? And it's like, you don't realize how fast if you do that every single year. How big that gets. And again, I don't think your goal is to get as big as possible, but I think that people underestimate that. So and building, and I think frankly, if you look at luxury brands, a lot of the luxury brands that have done really well, will actually intentionally limit their growth. Right? If Chanel doesn't want to grow faster than X percent. Right? They do not want to outpace, the brand. Right? So it's, I... It is revolutionary in some circles, but in other circles, I think it's, crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: Or old fashion. I mean, It's a very, I say revolutionary only because today's world is so wild. Right? But it's a very old world, way to build a business.

Conor Begley: Yeah. I, we had a good friend and his dad, when we were first starting Tribe and just getting going, he's like grow slow. I was like, what? He's like, grow slow. It's like, I want you to do that, for me. I was like, okay, like it's, and it's always stuck with me. It was like, so counterintuitive to what I, the other advice I'd been given, but it seemed like very intentional. And so that's really cool. So you talked about your daughters and being kind of a role model to your daughters. You've also been quoted as saying that, Tracee Ellis Ross was a kind of an icon of yours.

April Gargiulo: Oh, I'm, I die for her. I love her.

Conor Begley: So what is it about her that makes her kind of an icon for you or a role model for you?

April Gargiulo: Well, I mean. Oh gosh. I mean I have no words. Right? Okay. So I just think she's really cool. I think she's got incredible style, incredible taste. I think she's obviously this extraordinarily, hardworking, accomplished woman. She was also the first sort of celebrity to ever mention Vintner's Daughter in an interview or anything. And so, I mean that, at that point, I thought, literally I thought I had made it. I was like, are you kidding me? Tracee Ellis Ross uses Vintner's Daughter. Oh my God. But I mean I'm just a giant ridiculous fan girl of Tracee Ellis Ross.

Conor Begley: So let's talk about some of, kind of your... Actually, no, I don't want to go that direction. I want to go this direction. So we're still talking about your background and I think if you were to look at your ballot section on a website, or if you're to read, your" resume". Most resumes, it's going to look like a string of successes. Right? Just kind of one thing after another. What was the hardest kind of period in your life professionally that coming into today?

April Gargiulo: That's a great question. I mean, I think. Listen, I mean, where I'm at right now is challenging, right? We have a very successful business in the world. Coveted and beloved around the world and all the things, but I've never done this before. I've never been a CEO all of this, of any company, much less a company that's growing like we are. And again, a company that's kind of going against the grain in so many ways. So navigating that I think is, I mean, it's really challenging for me.

Conor Begley: Yup. What's the path to making it less challenging?

April Gargiulo: Team. Right. I think team, having this year, I'm, I don't have a board of directors yet, so I really want to get a really great board of directors, sort of having a personal board of directors also and you probably experience this too. Just having those group of people that you can kind of call up and say, you've been through this before, you've lived through this before, you've seen this before, how... What are my options? What can I do here? What should I do here? What I, what am I like not thinking about that I should be thinking about? Just, I mean, ultimately it's just about your... For me, I think putting together like a team in every aspect.

Conor Begley: Would you ever hire an outside CEO?

April Gargiulo: Yeah. I mean, I would think about it for sure.

Conor Begley: Interesting. Why is that?

April Gargiulo: I've created, I think I've created something with really, really strong DNA, incredibly strong DNA. And ultimately I think hiring a CEO to come in would, I would imagine be the logical step. And then I could go start a gin company.

Conor Begley: I like gin too. I'm a crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: But really everything I do in terms of strengthening our brand and strengthening just our core mission in the DNA of the business, is there so that somebody else could come in and understand it, and run it and all of that would not only maintain but grow stronger.

Conor Begley: Yeah, for sure. I mean, we definitely, I personally run into similar kind of times. Right? Or like-

April Gargiulo: Oh, yeah. Sure you have.

Conor Begley: Yeah. When we were first kind of scaling up, I had 60 or 70% of the company reporting into me. And, but also I was on the road, constantly. Right?. Traveling, speaking, doing stuff like this. And so, it made it really hard to be supportive of the team, number one. And then number two, at that point, when we started Tribe, I had, two or three years worth of working experience and, had never managed a single person. Right? And so you're trying to figure out how to run a company. How to be a manager, good manager, how to do all of these things. Well, all simultaneously not even being in the office half the time. Right? Or being, even available half the time. And so we made some pretty crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: And that was pre- zoom world. I mean, that was even when, you could occasionally show up in person, in real life. Right?

Conor Begley: Yeah. This was pre pandemic. Right?

April Gargiulo: Right.

Conor Begley: So, yeah. So that was a big change that we made internally. Moved all the reporting under John and had me focused entirely externally and it was great. But it's, there are real moments that are tough, as you build the business. Realizing what you're really good at as well as what you actually enjoy doing.

April Gargiulo: Yes. Absolutely. How can you benefits company most?

Conor Begley: Yeah. So what's up next to Vintner's Daughter? Are you going to release a third product? Will it happen?

April Gargiulo: Will it happen? Yeah, I mean, I hope so. I mean, I'm not against, I'm not against new products. I, for us, it has to live up the... But the standards that the product that wears a Vintner's Daughter label has to live up to is extraordinary. Right? From a... Again, from a sourcing standpoint, from a formulation standpoint and ultimately a performance standpoint and an impact standpoint. And so, though that takes time and we don't take, it lightly, but yeah. I mean. I hope, hopefully we'll have products I would love to have, see what we could do for body. I'd love to be able to treat the body in the same way that you do the face. I would love, like a cleanser, I love an SPF. I mean, there's things that we would love to understand how we'd be able to bring our level of, our standards to those categories.

Conor Begley: For sure. I think you mentioned that it took you about two years to develop the most recent release.

April Gargiulo: Oh. No. Serum was two and a half years. Essence was four and a half years.

Conor Begley: Yeah. So what does that process look like? What is a two year, four year process?

April Gargiulo: Well. So for essence, it was, okay so the way that we make product is unlike anybody else. So we're not using synthetics, we're not using powders, we're not using whatever it would be like in wine. Would you want to drink? Would the finest wine in the world have cherry flavor, number 10 and oak flavor number two? No. Right?

Conor Begley: No. Yeah.

April Gargiulo: Okay. So the... Some of the most expensive skincare in the world, that's basically what they're using. They're using synthetic versions, cheap, inexpensive synthetic versions, of these incredible actives that really do help the skin. Right? And so for Vintner's Daughter, we want to go to the source. We want to create that connection to the skin in the most powerful way with, through those nutrients. And so we begin with whole plants, unlike anyone else, we begin with whole plants, some of the most nutrient dense plants in the world. And we have this proprietary process that we call our Phyto Radiance Infusion. It's this very gentle, very temperature controlled way, that we capture all of those, actives and nutrients and all of that, all those amazing parts of that plant. In those very kind of like symphonic ratios that come from nature, right? These perfect ratios, that cause plants and our bodies metabolize nutrients in almost the exact same way. We're able to create these formulas, that the skin understands and recognizes and can very effectively, efficiently put to work. Right? And it's these nutrients, in the most perfect ratios. And so we're establishing this very deep connection to the skin, through our formulation processes. And so does that, did that answer the question?

Conor Begley: I think it does. I guess what I would say is, so that makes sense. So let's say that, now you've kind of come up with, what you want to focus on. So you've got the cleanser, you've got some of the kind of core ingredients. What's your testing process? What's your feedback loop? How do you know that it's, what you want it to be?

April Gargiulo: Yeah. So we go through certain... It was, listen, we've had two products. Right? So the first product, the feedback loop was me and like five or six friends. Right? crosstalk.

Conor Begley: Which is obviously a good feedback loop at times.

April Gargiulo: Yeah. I mean, and then for essence, active treatment essence, our second product, it was different. Right? We had kind of like a couple different panels of independent people that we put together. And so, and that was obviously it felt very official next to, what the first one.

Conor Begley: The first process. Yeah. Yeah.

April Gargiulo: And so we would probably do similar to that, moving forward. I mean, a lot of times, again, when you're using these kind of like lab purchase synthetics, they kind of come with, you can buy clinicals along with the ingredients. Right? And they don't have those for plants. Plants don't have a PR team. Plants, it's, it doesn't, it's not, we're not dealing with the same infrastructure. Right?

Conor Begley: Yeah, yeah.

April Gargiulo: So it's, all the things that's kind of on us to have to do. And we're really lucky because our entire growth, and I know this is a crazy thing, but all of our growth has been word of mouth. Right?

Conor Begley: Yup, yup.

April Gargiulo: And so it is, we have these extraordinary testimonials. We get testimonials every day from all sorts of people, all ages, skin tones, skin issues, all over the world. And so ultimately that is, that to me is what's most meaningful.

Conor Begley: So I don't mean to go back to kind of an earlier topic, but it was a question I meant to ask and then forgot about. So you mentioned very specifically, that you put kind of guardrails in place. In terms of prioritizing personal life and professional life, after having a string of, no guardrails. So what is your, what are your kind of systems there? What are the guardrails that you, how do you kind of prioritize and manage your own life?

April Gargiulo: Yeah. Well, I mean simple things like we eat dinner together every night. Right? We are together every single morning. Weekends are family. I travel very little. I take very few business trips and I mean, those are the big ones. I mean, it's super simple, but it's just, you have to kind of put them in place and you have to live, make it actually happen.

Conor Begley: Well, I think it's really easy to, kind of say like, oh, it's just this Saturday, or it's just this-

April Gargiulo: Right. And let's be real. I don't have a big social life. Do you know what I mean? I don't have a big social life. I don't have, I'm not, I... That's just not where I, that's not what my life is right now. It is my family, my business and then a kind of a select group of friends.

Conor Begley: Yeah. One of the best articles, I read on that topic, it was from the Dean of this university. It's actually meant for women, wasn't meant for men or, I mean, I guess that's who it was addressed to, I should say. And what she was saying was that, in life, there is a limited amount of time. Right? So there's only so many things that you can do. And that she felt like there was... What's the word I'm looking for?

April Gargiulo: Unfair?

Conor Begley: An unrealistic pressure to kind of be all things. Right?

April Gargiulo: Right. At the same time. Right?

Conor Begley: At the same time, you got to be.

April Gargiulo: That's the issue, right?

Conor Begley: Yeah. And it's like she, I think she's at, it's like if you want to be the partner at the law firm, you're not going to get every night and weekend to yourself. Right? If you want to, you're not going to go to every PTA meeting, that's not going to happen. I can't remember if it was that, she compared it this way or somebody else did, but kind of compared it, basically think of it as like a stove. Right. You've got four different burners and you've got family, friends, health and work. Right? So those are the big categories that people generally spend time in. If you want to be really good, at something, you can really only pick two at any one time. Right? I can kind of stretch it to three, but it's really kind of two. And so, the important point is not for that to be defeatist or not to feel good crosstalk

April Gargiulo: It's just prioritize.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Make choices. Right?

April Gargiulo: And ladder your choices back to those priorities. Yes and it's not easy, but-

Conor Begley: Yeah. But you have to be comfortable with that. Right? Yeah. I'm exactly the same. My time right now is family and business, little bit of health. And then I just, haven't been able to spend a lot of time with friends and like, that's okay. Right? It's okay to do that. You don't have to beat yourself up that you're not out, with your friends every night. So, I did.

April Gargiulo: I mean that, it's the simple answer, but it's not always easy to achieve.

Conor Begley: Totally. Just from a mental health perspective. Very cool. Okay. So let's talk about kind of books. So I think, from what I can crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: Wait. Books?

Conor Begley: Books. Yeah. Like reading.

April Gargiulo: Oh. Okay. I love books.

Conor Begley: Yeah. So that's kind of why I'm bringing it up. So I think that, from what I can tell, you like them and-

April Gargiulo: Wait, how do you know this? Do I talk about books?

Conor Begley: I have my sources April.

April Gargiulo: Cool!

Conor Begley: So I put a lot of time in to these.

April Gargiulo: Sure I love it. Okay.

Conor Begley: So if you were to have kind of a Mount Rushmore of say either authors or books, right? So pick four, or I think there's four in Mount Rushmore. Right. What would they be? That you would recommend to kind of others to read?

April Gargiulo: Oh gosh. Okay. So again, I love reading. I love books. Okay. So I love Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace...

Conor Begley: That's two out of four. Be careful. You only have four.

April Gargiulo: I don't have to just pick like this, just this one book. I don't know. I don't know that I've even read anything else, but from the author, The Understory.

Conor Begley: Okay.

April Gargiulo: Gosh, that book really meant a lot to me. I read it.

Conor Begley: What is it?

April Gargiulo: It's maybe I read it three years ago. Two years ago. Three years. No. Cause it wasn't during, it was pre COVID. So three years ago. Gosh, it's a really beautiful book. It's sort of on the surface about tree. I mean, it's about trees, which sounds really boring, but it's a really good book. And can I come up with the fourth during the rest of this conversation?

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Definitely, yeah. Give it time.

April Gargiulo: Oh, Joan Didion. I love Joan Didion.

Conor Begley: Okay. Okay.

April Gargiulo: But I couldn't name 20 others. So I'm just going to say, because, yeah.

Conor Begley: How many books are you burning through in a month? What's your consumption rate?

April Gargiulo: Well, I'm, I would not say that sleep is something that comes easily to me, so.

Conor Begley: All right.

April Gargiulo: So I tend to read at night, so I don't know, probably a book or two a week.

Conor Begley: Wow.

April Gargiulo: But also I'm fiction. I'm not reading nonfiction. I'm-

Conor Begley: You go through phases. I think I've gone through both fiction and non- fiction phases.

April Gargiulo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: God, I don't want to dive too much deeper on this, but what's your, I'm actually really curious about this. Right. So I like, I kind of fell off with fiction and then, I was like, okay, I need to get back into it. And so, and I you're going to hate this because you're not a ratings person, but I was like, let's go to the ratings. Right. I went to Goodreads.

April Gargiulo: What ratings would you go to? Where, what, like what?

Conor Begley: So it's Goodreads. Right. It's a Goodreads.

April Gargiulo: Oh. Okay. Yeah.

Conor Begley: Right. And so I feel there's, it's a good community to get-

April Gargiulo: I do too. Absolutely.

Conor Begley: And so, went through and just looked for the highest rated books, in different fiction categories. Right? There was the one that ended up getting turned into a movie, The Martian is unbelievably good. Right.

April Gargiulo: Oh, was it... Okay.

Conor Begley: It was based biology and all this kind of stuff. It totally changed my relationship with fiction because-

April Gargiulo: Oh, isn't that exciting? That's great.

Conor Begley: Yeah. So what's... How do you decide what to read? What's your process?

April Gargiulo: Oh, that's a great question. I read. Okay. So authors, just authors who I love. Right? I just discovered there was a book that I read recently called Hamnet. Okay. And the author, I didn't actually love that book that much, but I really loved the way she kind of wrote. And so I check out another one of, because I don't love historical fiction, novels. I don't know why. It's not my thing.

Conor Begley: That's funny. I've actually kind of gotten into them. I'm like crosstalk historical fiction.

April Gargiulo: I don't even like historical fiction, like television stuff. Right? Why, it's not my thing. But anyway, I really loved her name was, what is it, I can't even... Maggie O'Farrell. And then I read a couple of other of her books. And so I kind of, it let that one book led me to another, other of her books, which I really enjoyed. But I mean, I think I find authors who I love and then I'll read everything they've written and then kind of go to the next author and kind of like that, probably.

Conor Begley: Yeah. That's your process. Okay. So I'm realizing that we are a marketing company. So I should probably ask you at least one question about marketing. So, and then we'll do one kind of fun end of show question. So for you, you said you've grown primarily via word of mouth, but I've definitely seen a lot of press and a lot of-

April Gargiulo: Yes we've been very happy about that.

Conor Begley: Right. So what would you say have been, kind of your guiding philosophies around driving word of mouth. Right? How have you found, what are the methods you found that kind of helped to accelerate that?

April Gargiulo: Yeah. I mean, I think. Okay, so for the first eight, let's say that there's been a cutoff over the last year I think things have changed dramatically. I think all those kind of earned opportunities are just, almost nonexistent these days.

Conor Begley: Yep.

April Gargiulo: But pre that I think it was, I would, I mean, we were really lucky with social. Right? Everyone had a platform and so everyone got to be able to share it with their community, which was really, I think really fortunate for us and the product actually worked. People purchased it, they fell in love with it. They loved the results and they would go on to whatever social channel they would. They were, and they would share it with their friends. Right? I would get on the phone with anyone. Right? Anyone who wanted to learn more about Vintner's Daughter, I was happy to get on the phone with and chat whether that was the editor of Vogue or somebody with 5, 000 followers. And I did that, in I didn't get on planes, trains and automobiles for eight years, but I was on the phone all the time. Right? And so that was really important I think for us. Something I didn't know about the whole world of beauty before I got into it is that makeup artists are extraordinarily influential, like incredible, I mean they are extraordinarily influential. And so there were makeup artists who found us, and would, I mean, that's how Tracee Ellis Ross found us. That's how Hailey Bieber found us. That's how Gwyneth Paltrow, through their, I think through their makeup artists because I don't have personal relationships with them. And yeah, I mean, so it was very old fashioned, in the way that it was built. Very, word of mouth, grassroots growth. Today I think we're looking at something very different. Today we're actually thinking about, kind of more structured affiliate programs. Doing some remarketing, retargeting, which we've never done before and kind of dipping our toe into that world.

Conor Begley: Yeah. That makes sense. Starting to test out some of these new avenues.

April Gargiulo: Exactly.

Conor Begley: Okay, cool. Well, let's go to one kind of fun. End of show question.

April Gargiulo: Well wait, what just came up for you? I feel you are holding back. I want to know whatever it is that you're thinking because-

Conor Begley: I don't know that I was thinking about anything else. I think, let's think, what was going through my mind in that moment?

April Gargiulo: She should be doing this. Should be doing that. I... Give me the secrets.

Conor Begley: No, I don't think I have any secrets. I think what was interesting, what was going through my mind, was this kind of evolution in your, in the maturity of the company. Right? So if you were to think about, kind of the topic, right? When we talked about you, feeling like this might be one of the hardest times in your professional career. Right? And then, so you got that. Plus the company's starting to get to bigger scale. You're starting to get beyond just like, hey, we're growing via word of mouth. Now we're going to start testing new marketing strategies, et cetera. It feels like the business is starting to grow, to a stage where maybe it's like this isn't the stuff I'm most interested in anymore. Right? I'm not interested in the operational pull and tug of how an affiliate program works. And I don't want to figure out how to eke out an extra 2% margin. Right? That's just not like... And that, because that's not honestly, what really gets me, excited about business. And so I think I was kind of pausing and absorbing the answer and really thinking about it from that lens and I can be totally off, but that's just-

April Gargiulo: No, no. I appreciate that. It's actually, I think I'm so in the middle of it, that's hard for me to even put words to it. Yeah.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah.

April Gargiulo: If that makes sense. I, you're kind of on the other side of it. So you could kind of look back and you've processed it. I think I'm like, so still in the middle. I'm like, so in the weeds of all of it, that it's hard for me to even put words to it. So that's actually very helpful.

Conor Begley: Yeah. All right. So we're going to do a fun question, just to end the show, although we've done a lot of fun questions this time it's been a... I, this is, I like this a lot. So, I've also heard, so to your point about not sleeping very well, that you're a bit of a night owl.

April Gargiulo: Yes.

Conor Begley: Now, in addition to reading, you also do some binging, right? Some Netflixing.

April Gargiulo: Oh, sure.

Conor Begley: So what's your current show you're binging right now?

April Gargiulo: My husband and I are watching Formula 1. That Formula 1.

Conor Begley: Ah! Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

April Gargiulo: It's a world that I knew nothing, zero about. Nothing. And of course it's one of the most popular sports in the world. So it's just fascinating. Right? And it-

Conor Begley: I mean, it has been an... That shows an absolute phenomenon both in terms of the total viewership and in terms of the change that it's had, for that sport specifically within the US. Right?

April Gargiulo: Oh, it has to cause it's just not, I mean, we have one, Formula 1 just in Austin. I think. I think we only have one. Not that I'm an expert at this point, but I'm on season two. So I feel I know something.

Conor Begley: Yeah, totally. Well, I really appreciate you taking out the time and congratulations on everything that you've achieved. I think the balance that you've been able to establish between business and your family is something that I think people should look up to. Right? I think it's something that a lot more people should, actually that was one of the things, I think one of the things I found most interesting about my own reading journey, is I've read a ton of books and I got really into business books for a minute. And so I was powering through all these business books and one of the things that I observed and it hit me in particular, is that if you look at almost all of the authors, right? So I've read the Disney CEO biography, the Steve Jobs. Right, all these at ones.

April Gargiulo: Yeah. Jim Huffman.

Conor Begley: Almost every single one of them-

April Gargiulo: One, two, three and four.

Conor Begley: Right. Almost every single one of them is divorced. And it's actually really consistent. Across those and the reason it's home for me, is my parents are separated and my business partners, parents are separated. And when we started the company, we both said like, hey, business is important, but family first. Right? We both, we don't want that to be us. And we've kind of aligned on that. And so reading through all these people, it's like, oh wow. Like-

April Gargiulo: Gosh. They really are. Aren't they?

Conor Begley: What?

April Gargiulo: They really are. They're, none of inaudible.

Conor Begley: All of it. Steve Jobs, I mean.

April Gargiulo: Kind of rolodex in my head right now, too, but you're right.

Conor Begley: It's like 90%. Right? Of these, you look at Bezos. You look at, and I'm like, obviously in the tech world, but you look at Elon Musk, you look at, even if you had Bill and Melinda Gates who looked like kind of the perfect family, couple. Done, all of them. Right? And when I was reading very specifically the Disney CEOs, I guess it was his autobiography, which is very well reviewed and has a lot of good lessons in it. At one point when he was rising up the ranks, he's like, my family was in New York, but I had to move to LA and it just, I didn't get to see them much for the next couple years. It's like, and it was like a sentence. It was like whoa, but again, to your point about focus, he made a decision. Right? That was a thing he was comfortable with.

April Gargiulo: Well, inaudible.

Conor Begley: But it's not the decision.

April Gargiulo: About focus and more about priority. Right?

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah.

April Gargiulo: He did. I mean, his family was clear. I mean, he, his actions make it seem as though his family was not his priority.

Conor Begley: Right. And that's what if we are, what are we, if we are not like a collective summary of our actions. Right? So I think, that anyway, so I just really admire, that you've been able to do that. I think that's, and I think it's really important. Right? crosstalk.

April Gargiulo: We'll, thank you. I mean, we'll see, I think. I mean, family is all good, everything. I mean, from a business perspective, I always think who knows it can all go away tomorrow. So...

Conor Begley: Well, I think you guys will be right. Well, thank you again for taking the time. I really appreciate it. I know I had a really good time today and so glad we got to meet each other in LA. In that random-

April Gargiulo: I know, that was fun.

Conor Begley: And-

April Gargiulo: And I never do stuff like that. So that was a really, that was really fun.

Conor Begley: Yes. It was fun. It was, and it was kind of in a weird window where like COVID was like, oh it's okay.

April Gargiulo: Yeah. Right.

Conor Begley: But I really appreciate it April.

April Gargiulo: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Conor Begley: Of course. Bye. Talk to you soon.

April Gargiulo: Bye.

Speaker 2: Hit subscribe now. Earned by Tribe Dynamics. Tribe Dynamics unlocks your social media influencer community. Our platform, not only tracks and measures your best influencer relationships, but discovers new influencers to flow your business through Earned Media. Get started with a demo today @ tribedynamics. com, tribedynamics. com.


In Episode 45 of Earned, Conor sits down with April Gargiulo, founder and CEO of nutrient-powered luxury skincare brand Vintner’s Daughter. We start the episode by learning why April, whose family owns the renowned Gargiulo Vineyards in Napa Valley, California, applies the same principles of quality and craftsmanship principles at the heart of winemaking to Vintner’s Daughter, as evidenced by the brand’s limited product range. April reveals how her disappointment in product quality from “luxury” skincare brands led her to create Vintner’s Daughter, and explains why she follows her own skincare playbook. We also discuss how April creates a healthy work-life balance, as she shares how her goals are not to build a “scale-and-sale” company, but a brand that positively impacts consumers’ skin and lives. Next, we learn about Vintner’s Daughter’s years-long proprietary product development process, then close the show with April’s philosophies for driving organic word-of-mouth brand awareness.