Woman-owned vegan skin care company APTO Skincare has recently been accepted into CVS’s Beauty in Real Life Program (BIRL) program. Launched in 2018, the BIRL program operates as “a shop-in-shop that features an expanded and redesigned beauty department and mini beauty services through an exclusive partnership with GlamSquad, a technology-driven beauty services company and community of beauty professionals,” according to the CVS website.
Acceptance into the program marks “a significant milestone in our business’s trajectory by expanding our mass market footprint beyond existing retail partnerships with big box stores, Target and Walmart,” said Noemi Manso, Head of Sales at APTO Skincare. To learn more about the brand, its product offerings and formulation processes, and the impact inclusion in CVS’s BIRL program will have on its future growth and expansion efforts, we interviewed Manso for her insights.
CDU: Can you share some brief background about the brand?
Noemi Manso (NM): APTO Skincare is a women-owned and family-operated company founded in 2015 with the mission of making clean, natural, and vegan skin care products that are also simple and affordable. Our lineup of multi-benefit basics is ideal for busy women who want effective but effortless products that don’t require a long routine to see results.
We prioritize sustainability and responsibility. For our packaging, the bottles are 100% recyclable aluminum, tubes are 50% PCR (post-consumer resin), and we don’t use wasteful secondary cartons. Our formulas are certified by Vegan Action for being free of animal-derived ingredients, and we are certified by Leaping Bunny for being cruelty-free. We believe that beauty should never come at the expense of those with whom we share the planet.
CDU: Can you share some information about the product line, and its formulation, development, and launch process?
NM: A few years ago, we realized that in this complicated and hectic world, our customers were craving simplicity. So, we reduced our 35+ assortment of products to our current streamlined lineup of multi-tasking essentials.
We focus on creating innovative formulas that address a need or want that we’ve identified among our busy-women audience, and which provide a range of benefits in a single use to save our customers time and energy because they don’t need to layer multiple products.
We are proud to have complete control over our formulation and manufacturing processes, which take place in our own facility in New Jersey using only responsibly-sourced ingredients.
Research and development is carried out by our in-house laboratory team, formulas are manufactured in our factory, and finished goods are stored in our warehouse - all on the same property. This greatly streamlines our operations and reduces transportation emissions.
When launching new formulas, we always have our human friends test them to ensure it reaches our standards for efficacy and customer experience. They then undergo stability and compatibility testing before being manufactured in bulk.
CDU: What is the BIRL program, and how will APTO’s inclusion in the BIRL program impact the brand?
NM: The CVS Beauty in Real Life (BIRL) program awards shelf space to personal care brands in the top CVS beauty doors across the United States. These stores were created based on an insight that today’s beauty consumers are craving an interactive and inspiring shopping experience that succeeds in helping them address their specific needs and wants.1
The BIRL locations feature a dramatically different and elevated beauty department, which offers mini services and a dedicated space for indie beauty brands.2 These stores aim to encourage discovery by allowing customers to sample a variety of items.1 CVS Beauty Consultants are trained to advise customers on products and guide them through their shopping journey.
Being accepted into a retailer that has created a curated experience for its customers to be able select from quality options demonstrates that we have lived up to our values.
In addition, entry into one of the nation's largest and most well-established drug chains represents a significant milestone in our business’s trajectory by expanding our mass market footprint beyond existing retail partnerships with big box stores, Target and Walmart.
CDU: What pain points does the brand’s inclusion into the BIRL program solve for consumers?
NM: Our consumers are always on the go and have packed schedules with minimal time to dedicate to self care. This new distribution channel creates another convenient avenue for customers to pick up their go-to products while running errands.
APTO is all about fitting into our users’ lives in a way that is effortless and seamless, and being on the shelves where they are already shopping is a big part of that.
CDU: What pain points does this solve for the brand?
NM: We’ve made great strides in growing our brand, but we are still a small, independently-owned company. We do not have the marketing resources that some of our competitors have to generate broad awareness.
But we believe greatly in the value we deliver to consumers. An endcap position on the shelves in one of the nation’s biggest and most respected drug chains in the country is a great opportunity for us to be discovered by new people who will try and love our products.
CDU: What are APTO Skincare’s plans for further innovation in the cosmetics and/or personal care product spaces?
NM: We will be launching two new products in early 2024, both of which were designed with the needs of busy women in mind. Both new formulas fall within completely new product categories for us, but they are categories that are important to the day-to-day lives of our customers, and they make life just a little easier, which is always our goal.