31st State is an edit of clean self-care staples for guys. We like to call it the lazy guy solution to skin-care. We talked with their founder Stephanie Capuano about why she started the brand, where she sees it going, and everything in between. Read our conversation below!
Q: What were you doing before you started your business?
A: I was previously in the pharmaceutical industry, working in San Francisco, New York and London – in the marketing end of that industry. I worked on more complex drugs for breast cancer and AIDS, doing issue management around those, so it was much cerebral than launching products for teen grooming! I think what it did was give me a much more clinical approach. It made me think about it in a different way than your average consumer. I also dabbled in fashion and still operate a boutique safari company called &Three Collective, helping families travel to Africa in special ways.
Q: What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship with 31st state?
A: 31st State genuinely came from a place of need. My sons were twelve and thirteen and their bodies and skin started changing. They needed help and I did, too. I will never forget the moment when that pre-teen smell set in! I did what every mom does when she needs help -- googled the heck out of natural teen skincare, searched every pharmacy and asked every friend. Turns out, they were just as lost as me about what to use on these precious boys.
The idea was to create a really tight edit in the clean beauty space where there was a real lack out there - especially for teen boys. There was a lot on the market for girls, babies and adults, but nothing for that sweet spot when boys are entering that grooming phase – products that were cleaner and healthier for them, and healthier for the planet. For me, as a consumer, and a mother of two teenage boys, and a daughter, I was starting to make more informed purchases in our household, such as buying healthier food that wasn’t sprayed with chemicals, and food without preservatives. I felt that should include their personal care, too.
Q: What has one of your biggest challenges been since starting your brand?
A: Bringing the brand to market was not my biggest challenge. Our greatest challenge is marketing - we are in the unique position where our end customer (a boy or man) is different from our end purchaser (most often, a mom shopping for her family). Striking the right balance is always hard.
Q: What has been your proudest moment since starting your brand?
A: It's been incredibly rewarding to see 31st State sit on shelf alongside some of the most recognisable brands out there. More rewarding however, is the pride I feel in the recognition from my kids for setting a goal and going for it, for creating something for them and their generation of kids.
Q: We love the “Diaries” section of your site and how you give a voice to your Gen Z customers, can you tell us more about the idea behind that?
A: Since our launch, our mission has been to provide a sense of community for teens and Gen Z and a platform for their views, not mine as a brand founder. As the pandemic hit fever pitch in 2020 and 2021, we reached out to our global network of Gen Z contributors to take their temperatures, so to speak, about how the pandemic is impacting their lives. Over 100 blogs were submitted from around the world. The insights were illuminating and we found that their greatest concerns centered around climate change, race and wealth disparity, human rights and access to healthcare.
This generation has a lot to say, and business and government leaders would be mistaken not to directly ask, listen and then take action themselves. I think that’s where it’s easy to get it wrong as a brand – to assume what a group wants and stands for without actually going through the collaborative process to understand in a meaningful way on your own. For us, the most compelling message that has come through in the past four months is that this generation feels they have a huge responsibility to correct the ills generations before them have created.
Q: What is your current favorite product from your line?
A: The Overnight Clearing Pads rock! They are exceptionally formulated and while we say they are the lazy guy's solution to skincare, girls and women use them, too -- we like to say they are the Boyfriend Jeans of the range. They contain ingredients like lactic acid that is beneficial for aiding in the control of pimples and acne, decreasing the appearance of pores and smoothing out rough skin - something we all need sometimes.
Q: Is there anything exciting upcoming for your brand that you can let us in on?
A: After listening to our customers over the past year, there are some exciting products in development to address the needs of teen boys and young men.
Shop the 31st State Collection now.
Such fabulous founder content – I find it so inspiring to witness a Mom put her efforts behind what she believes in -and filling this gap of natural products for teens – so wonderful. Certainly a juggling act at times with family/kids and a brand – but watching other Moms pave the way towards change always gives me a great sense of hope for our kids future. Thanks ForNow & 31st State!