When every brand uses the same playbook, who wins? Not the customer – that’s for sure.
Take the beauty industry’s standard playbook, for example. Launch tons of products with near-identical messaging. Compromise quality for scale. Then, add a 10x markup.
April Gargiulo, founder of Vintner’s Daughter, refuses to abide by these rules. And it’s earned her luxury skincare brand a celebrity cult following and a #1 spot on Goop, the leading beauty marketplace.
Here’s how April continues to rewrite her industry’s “winning” playbook:
1. Launching with only 1 product
In 2013, VD launched with a single product: The Active Botanical Serum. Wholesalers that loved it wouldn’t work with her, saying they couldn’t fill a shelf with only 1 SKU.
Because of this, “it was years before we had traction in the retail world,” April told Glossy.
Any other beauty brand would’ve taken this as a sign to remix what already worked. And sure, people would’ve certainly bought another version of hero serum. But April knew more of the same wasn’t what customers (and their skin) needed.
So, she set her sights on creating a totally different product that would complement the OG serum. Roughly 4 years later, VD perfected and launched its 2nd product – which is now as celebrated as the 1st.
2. Questioning the industry’s narrative
You won’t catch VD using common jargon like “anti-aging” or “corrective.” According to April, these are gaslighting terms meant to breed insecurity in customers.
Instead, her messaging focuses on nurturing “healthy, radiant skin.” For starters, this is much more empowering. But it also challenges the industry’s narrative that “you’re not good enough without us” head-on.
3. Operating at the speed of quality
Raised in a family of fine winemakers, April has what some call “uncompromising standards.” Meaning, she’s unwilling to cut corners or cheap out.
“It takes 3 weeks to make every bottle because we do not take shortcuts,” she reported to Shen. Some labs have pointed out that this manufacturing process is inefficient. Others have flatly said that’s simply “not how things are done.”
April doesn’t care. From her perspective, “if you want to make the very best [product], you have to honor that intention every step of the way.” And sometimes that means longer production processes.
4. Shrinking the standard markup
Limiting your own margins sounds like lousy business, no? But by not charging 1,000% more than the cost of goods sold (a standard in the industry), that’s what the skincare company is essentially doing.
“[VD is] not a revenue-driven brand; we’re a product-driven brand,” April insisted to WWD.
If they were revenue-first, she jokes, they’d be using the beauty industry’s “criminal” markup. And the brand’s already eye-wateringly priced face serum would cost well over $400.
These moves ensure that Vintner’s Daughter reaches operational excellence. All while making sure that both the brand and its customers win.