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Youth to the People founder Greg Gonzalez didn’t have to go far to find inspiration for his skin care company. In fact, he pretty much just had to walk outside his door.
In the 2010s, Greg lived in Santa Monica during the heart of the wellness boom. He was surrounded by colorful cold-pressed juice shops and trendy vegan restaurants, all touting their clean ingredients.
“It was the light bulb just kind of going off like, ‘Wow, what if we harness these ingredients into skin care and cold press them and bring in the science and the cosmetic chemistry?” Greg says.
Greg already knew a thing or two about the science of skin care. Greg’s grandmother had started her own skin care company in 1979, so he was familiar with hyaluronic acid before the age of 10.
However, Greg didn’t really imagine joining the family company. He was drafted by the New York Mets to play baseball, and it wasn’t until he got injured that he went looking for something else to do.
“Eventually, I made my way into my mom’s office, who was handling brand and marketing, and I started to work on copy for products, website copy, product positioning, names of products, and I fell in love with that, as much as anything I’ve ever been passionate about in my life,” Greg explains. “And that’s where I found my sweet spot, really, within the industry.”
Greg and his co-founder and cousin, Joe Cloyes, researched antioxidants in plants to see whether they could harness that power to start their own skin care line. And it worked. Youth to the People now makes products like the Superfood cleanser and the Superberry Dream eye cream.
Greg made the names aspirational.
“It’s not a sleep mask. It’s a dream mask,” he points out.
The team has started venturing beyond Santa Monica to find inspiration. He and his co-founder love to travel to raw ingredient manufacturers in the US, Italy, South Korea, and beyond to try new elements.
Greg says Youth to the People is constantly tweaking to get its formulas just right. If you count the formulas from his family’s business as well, he says they made 14 moisturizers before coming up with the Superfood Air Whip moisturizer.
“It’s much more effective sometimes to do one or two things really well than to be passionately working at all of these different things,” Greg says.
That success with core products led to a partnership with Sephora and eventually an acquisition. L’Oréal, one of the world’s largest cosmetics companies, acquired Youth to the People in 2022, after a close years’-long partnership.
Greg’s advice for other founders is to stay true to what you’re making and enjoy the process.
“Really, try to embrace every stage, because every stage is really beautiful and every stage struggles in different ways,” Greg says. “And so, when you’re really, really tiny, it’s one of the most special times.”
To learn more about the Youth to the People acquisition and the science behind its skin care products, take a listen to Greg’s full interview on Shopify Masters.