In Conversation With: Stephanie Capuano, Founder of 31 st State

Where did you grow up?

California – the 31 st State.

What did you study at University and what was your first job?

I studied English Literature. My first job was doing PR for an architecture museum in
Washington DC, The National Building Museum.

How important was skincare to you before you started 31 st State?

I’ve always looked after my skin as an adult. It was a necessity after a childhood in the southern
California sun. But it was not until I had children that I really started to study
ingredients in food, household products and skincare. I remember looking at their
delicate, newborn skin and thinking, I don’t want to harm it in any way.

Stephanie with her two sons, who gave her the inspiration for 31st State.

What is the story behind 31 st State, where did it come from?

I have two teenage sons and there were very few skincare products, if any, made for them that weren’t packed with chemicals. There was a huge gap in the market for products with natural ingredients,
that actually work, look stylish and have an accessible price point. A range was needed to meet the approval of concerned parents who are increasingly buying more natural, often vegetarian or vegan food and household products but not applying this clean purchasing knowledge to their kid’s skin care routine. Inspired by my upbringing in California surrounded by the sun, sea and clean air, where life was simple and optimistic and appearances were effortless, I created 31 st State, devoted to teenage boys – a group I found to be left out of the ‘clean beauty movement’.

Why does 31 st State appeal to Gen Z?

The ingredients we used in 31 st State were carefully selected for Gen Z, who are socially and environmentally aware and statistically more likely to be vegan. This sentiment also applies to design, style and price. It was important that all of these elements fit our consumer profile. They are a
discerning generation of consumers so transparency across ingredients, development and design was vital.

How did you go about developing your first product?

Whilst I had a 12-year career in pharmaceutical PR I didn’t know a lot about product development. I only knew what I did not want in the products, I knew what my boys liked to use, which unfortunately
were elbow-deep in chemicals. I found an excellent product development consultant to help guide the process, to conduct focus groups with guys to learn about their grooming habits, to identify the right kind of manufacturer and importantly to carefully choose the right ingredients that adhered to our standards.

How did growing up in California affect the ethos behind 31st State?

When we were naming the brand, I didn’t immediately consider naming it after California, my birth
state. But what came out of out our brainstorming sessions was that the positivity and optimism that California embodies was something I needed to bring to the brand. California is a state that is known for its progressiveness in environmental policy, technology and wellness. Its is a place, and a state of mind. It’s a way of doing things that seems a little more natural and effortless. I wanted to bring this to guys everywhere through our grooming products.

Is it difficult to source natural ingredients?

It was not difficult to source the raw materials – the key was to create the best formulations for teen skin, which is very sensitive and is easily stripped by many products you’d find on the high street.

Was it difficult to pitch 31 st State to retailers?

Retailers have been incredibly receptive to our offering. The men’s grooming sector continues to grow and within that, the market for a younger male customer who is looking for healthier, planet-
friendly options.

What advice do you have to anyone who wants to create their own skincare line?

There are millions of great ideas out there, but not all of them are viable for product development or really needed by consumers. On top of that, the beauty industry is arguably the most crowded market out there. Study the industry thoroughly and build your knowledge before embarking. Ruthlessly question your idea. Is it really solving an unmet need?

You can buy 31 st State right here.

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