April Gargiulo
of Vintner's Daughter

April Gargiulo

Interview:
Sharon Weissburg

Photographer:
Kameron Richie

April Gargiulo grew up among the tangled vines of her father’s sun-soaked Napa Valley vineyard — idyllic roots, to be sure, although the true benefits of growing up in the family business lay in the exacting standards learned from the ancient practice of winemaking. In 2012, Gargiulo embarked on a passion project to create a skincare product that would render all other, lesser solutions irrelevant, and after two years of intensive research, the phenomenon known as Active Botanical Serum was born. Pressed directly from sustainably sourced whole-plant botanicals, the serum is the monolithic stuff of legend, purported to resolve every skin woe under the sun and wreathed in thousands of effusive reviews. Having fallen in love with the product ourselves (it really is that good), we caught up with Gargiulo on her secrets to success and self-care.

SHARON:

The choice to restrict your offerings to just one highly effective product is a rather radical approach that’s gained a few copycats since the success of Vintner’s Daughter. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of this approach? Do you see yourself ever adding other products to the range?

APRIL:

We are very intentional in our product offerings because it takes an incredible amount of time, research, and testing to create products that live up to our category-defining standards. We are absolutely obsessed with the highest quality sourcing and ingredients, truly transformative results, and unwavering formulation methods, each of which takes time. We are never in a rush. We honor the time it takes to produce the game-changing products we are known for. However, we are always innovating. So stay tuned.

S:

Although this has little to do with its effects, the smell of the Active Botanical Serum is really something special — green and earthy, a little figgy perhaps, like sinking into the cool soil of a Napa vineyard. Was this an intended outcome?

A:

The scent was never something that was discussed during our formulation process. It is an incredibly fortunate byproduct of our 22 nutrient-rich botanicals being packed into the bottle. We never add a single thing for fragrance; what you are smelling is absolutely natural. It is floral, earthy, herby, and for many, totally addicting.

S:

The skincare program you advocate is quite simplified in comparison with, say, a 10-step routine. How do you approach a client who is used to an elaborate ritual?

Botanical Ingredients Illustration

A:

When using Active Botanical Serum you are essentially feeding your skin the most optimal diet which allows it to function at its best. It can balance, repair, renew, and replenish itself, thereby treating everything from acne, discoloration, and dullness to elasticity and fine lines — in one single, luxurious step. Because it’s so multi-correctional, it allows you to eliminate several steps in a skincare routine. I have heard countless women tell me they went from seven steps to just three or four, and their skin has never been better. When using Active Botanical Serum, less really is more.

S:

'Self care' could adequately be described as a movement, especially among the millennial generation. Some claim it's self-indulgent escapism, others insist it's necessary therapeutic practice. What say you?

A:

To me, self-care is anything you do that makes you feel your best. I find it to be the opposite of self-indulgent escapism because if you don’t feel good, you cannot give of yourself to family, friends, work, and the world. For me, self-care takes many shapes; from meditation to time with friends to hiking in beautiful northern California. I also practice self-care every morning and night with my skincare, which of course includes a 30 second push/press ritual.

Botanical Ingredients Illustration

S:

Despite the preponderance of restrictive wellness regimens, a lot of advice seems to center around an attitude that allows for a bit of infraction and indulgence from a rigorous routine. Do you have anything you break for — any guilty pleasures?

A:

So many guilty pleasures! Truly too many to name, from my love of vintage jewelry, furniture, processed sugar, and bad TV to cocktails and cabernet. All in moderation, right?

S:

Yes, including moderation! One more question — historians have observed that the centuries-long persecution of women as witches effectively eliminated millennia of natural healing knowledge and herbal medicine in the Western world, a practice that scientists are only now beginning to regain in tandem with herbal knowledge from around the world. It’s wonderful to see a woman leading an independent health and beauty brand with so much autonomy, especially one so focused and dependent on the respectful use of the natural world — do you see yourself as a part of the ancient tradition of natural healers, or as something new entirely?

Botanical Ingredients Illustration

A:

I love this question and applaud all the witches who came before me! There is an incredible wealth of knowledge in ancient cultures and traditions, from the women healers called “witches” to the local “medicine man.” I absolutely believe that we have only tapped the surface of the answers that nature holds. I hope that Vintner’s Daughter can be part of bringing those ancient wisdoms to the forefront and also spurring innovation in the naturals realm. It is such an exciting time.

Botanical Ingredients Illustration