Like any good idea, 31st State was born from a need. As a mother of teenage boys, Founder Stephanie Capuano knows first-hand just how much breakouts and changing body chemistry can impact self-confidence. Struggling to watch her sons suffer, the entrepreneur noticed a major gap in the market for skincare products tailored to adolescent boys with natural ingredients that actually work, look stylish and all still at an accessible price point.
Read on to discover what the Founder has to say about the inspiration behind the brand, her entrepreneurial journey and more.
What was the inspiration behind 31st State?
Very simply, my teen sons. I think we can all agree that the single thing we care most about as mothers is our children and their wellbeing. I saw that my teen boys were navigating adolescence as painfully as my teen daughter, and yet, so few people in the media were talking about that, much less the clean beauty and grooming industries. They were suffering from breakouts and changing body chemistry that impacted their self-confidence as much as my daughter. It was really quite painful to watch them suffer with all the normal teen angst, and tricky skin and smells making it all worse. As a mom, it hurts to see them suffer and we know how vital self confidence is at this age. That was at the heart of 31st State.
When did you start 31st State, and what has the journey been like from then to now?
I launched 31st State in Europe in 2018, where we formulated and manufactured according to EU cosmetic manufacturing standards, the most stringent in the world. When we launched there was a huge gap in the market for products for teen boys with natural ingredients that actually work, look stylish and all still at an accessible price point. A range was needed to meet the approval of concerned parents who are increasingly buying more natural, vegan, gluten-free 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 31st State, devoted to teenage boys – a group I found to be left out of the "clean beauty movement."
Tell us a bit about your professional background. Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I started in PR in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector and for the next 12 years climbed the ranks. I stopped to have children (I slightly regret that I didn’t keep my toe in the business) and after kids, I worked for a fashion designer, co-founded a luxury travel business (&Three Collective, Bespoke African Safaris) and then out of a great need started 31st State, a skincare range for teen boys.
What has your entrepreneurial journey been like?
An analogy for my entrepreneurial journey might be the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). I’m from California and my business is named after California. PCH is a very storied road that runs the length of California and is marked by curves and long stretches and unexpected pin-turns — a little bit of everything and arriving at a place of great inspiration and fulfillment. For me, that really describes my career because I have done a lot of different things. In each career turn there are always personal challenges that can either derail or inspire so I like the idea of a highway as a reminder that you have to stay fluid and flexible. Sometimes things are really out of your control but you do have a choice about how you navigate them.
What sets 31st State apart from other skincare brands?
31st State was made specifically for teen boys as they enter the skin and personal care market. When we launched, no one was addressing this demographic of consumers. The ingredients we used in 31st State were carefully selected for this generation, 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.
What is your favorite product and why?
My favorite product happens to be our best-selling product, the Overnight Clearing Pads. These are the lazy guys' solution to skin care and they pop up on bed side tables, cars, kitchen counters and in gym bags alike. Developed with congested teenage skin in mind, these biodegradable pads exfoliate and unclog blocked pores with natural, active ingredients. Lactic acid, manuka and encapsulated tea tree remove surface dirt and oil, unclog and minimize pores and reveal clear, even skin tone that will get you noticed for all the right reasons. While they were developed for guys, we hear from our customers that girls are using them, too, swiping from their brothers and boyfriends. We like to call them the 'boyfriend jeans' of the range.
Is there any skincare advice that you would tell mothers whose teenage sons are struggling with acne (besides using 31st State, of course!)?
Beyond using a gentle and effective regimen of products and offering moral support, we can provide healthy meals rich in vitamins and low in sugar. Avoid dairy, in particular milk, reduce sugar intake, and take a probiotic, an Omega 3 supplement and a multivitamin to ensure there are no nutrient deficiencies. As my mother used to always say, this too shall pass. And indeed it does! We just need to do what we can to support their confidence along the way.