Stephanie Capuano

We chat to Stephanie Capuano CEO & Founder of 31st State to find out about business, beauty and creating a vegan brand.

You grew up in California and now live in London, where do you call home?

I live in London with my husband and three kids, but California will always be home. I loved growing up in the West Coast and take inspiration from the beaches, deserts and forests of California where life just seems a little less complicated with a clean and effortless existence.

How was 31st State born?

I created 31st State out of a genuine need: my teen boys were entering adolescence and needed to start grooming, treating spots, wearing deodorant, and washing properly. I wanted them to use natural products and they wanted to use the high street brands. I was frustrated to find that there was nothing on the market made for teen boys that smelled great, looked good and worked so that they would want to use it. We couldn’t find any products that weren’t filled with harmful chemicals either so I decided to create them myself.

You have two teenage boys, are they are your biggest critics?

My boys give me constant feedback on the products, the company and our social media. They are actually quite nice to me but very honest! My bigger critic is perhaps my 12 year old daughter, she keeps me in check.

Can you tell our readers the ethos about 31st State?

31st State’s ethos is to deliver products full of natural ingredients that work for teenage guys skin and are free from ingredients that cause skin sensitivity. As well as creating a range of hair, skin and body care products that are actually effective, we ensure everything is fully vegan and cruelty free too.

What are the core ingredients and how do you find inspiration in creating new products?

When it comes to food, everyone knows that organic and natural produce is better for you, but it seems this logic hasn’t yet hit the same critical mass in the skin care industry. The fact is we all use skin care products, whether it’s a soap bar or a moisturiser or lip stick or all of the above. It’s also a fact that our skin is porous and absorbs much of what is applied to it and that includes the long list of harmful chemicals contained in the majority of body care products sold today, especially to kids. So we only formulate with the best natural active ingredients we could find that would benefit the skin of teenage boys. We use ingredients like lactic acid, one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in skin care today and a powerful ingredient that helps reduce acne breakouts. The multi mineral composition of magnesium, copper and zinc helps boost cell metabolism and the immediate availability of oxygen to the skin which helps restore radiant, better toned and healthier looking skin. And witch hazel and tea tree are renowned for their antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, all vital in an effective skincare regime for teens. In terms of inspiration for new products, we listen! We listen to our end users, teen boys, and to their mothers about what’s missing from their routine that would make the whole process of teen grooming a little bit easier as they navigate the choppy waters of adolescence.

What products are in the range?

We have seven products in the range for skin, hair and body. Firstly we have our Roll-On Deodorant and 2-in-1 Hair & Body Wash to keep guys smelling great with Zinc, Silver and Aluminium free. Then our three step skin care range includes our award winning Overnight Clearing Pads, Foaming Face Wash and Spot Treatment Gel to help guys with an easy skin regime that will help irritated teenage breakouts quickly. Finally out two hair products, Easy Hold Styling Gel and Style & Shape Hair Putty, which are great for guys that like to keep their hair looking good all day without too much effort.

How important is formulating a natural and vegan brand?

Crucially, we’re against chemical shortcuts. The active ingredients in our products are inspired by nature and are vegan, but also have a real reason for being there. They balance, fight bacteria or soothe sensitive skin or acne. We took a look around at current products for teenage guys, and realised that, actually, nature was as skilled as any laboratory for their maintenance and just all-round smelling good. They don’t need to put loads of chemicals on their skin to look good so we only use authentic ingredients in our skincare that really work for what guys want and need. We took out that long list of chemicals you see on leading grooming brands made by the big companies and anything that strips, irritates, bothers and otherwise annoys sensitive skin is off-limits. Teen skin needs calm and natural ingredients, not aggravating chemicals, which can inflame sensitive skin or make acne worse, not to mention the harmful effects they have on their growing bodies.

When you’re not busy working what do you do to unwind?

I love to play tennis and have yoga classes a few times a week for that much needed break.  Going out with girlfriends also helps for some much-needed laughs. 

Do you have any top tips for readers who want to start their own business?

Take the plunge! Once you’ve started, keep your stride and sustain the right pace for you. It’s a matter of endurance over speed, heart over lungs.

You are a mum and businesswoman what has been your ultimate achievement?

Seeing 31st State listed on has to be up there! It took us 2.5 years to develop and launch it, and when the ASOS listing went live in our first 4 months on the market it was a proud moment. It also meant I was cooler to my teenage kids!

Do you have any tips on having two boys?

I am no expert, that is for sure! My advice would be to keep them close, spend time with them, ask them questions (even if you and they are embarrassed) and engage with them. It’s easy to think because they are boys and I am a woman we wouldn’t connect in the same way a man does, but I think we have so much to learn from each other, whether they show it or not!

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I am really committed to cleaner beauty and massively committed to Gen Z and their well-being, both physical and mental. You’ll hear more from me in this space.

Do you have any family friendly spots in the UK or London you can recommend?

We love the restaurant La Famigilia (fitting name for a place we love for the family) in Chelsea for warm hospitality and excellent food. When we get outdoors together a bike ride on a sunny day in Richmond Park is pretty unbeatable.

Women often lose their confidence and sense of self, what advice would you give to women to help them get their style back?

This is such a heart-breaking thought for me! The delicate balance of family, career, wife, body image is impossible to get right and it’s the greatest shame that as women we often are our own biggest critics. A friend once said to me in a moment of self-doubt and self-criticism, ‘My friend, you are good enough.’ I will never forget that, nor should other women in this boat, because not only are they probably good enough, they are probably great!

What’s your motto?

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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