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Anita Wilbanks and Lydia Mondavi, 29 Cosmetics
GCI: Your Mondavi family is a huge name in the winemaking business. What types of wine do you prefer, and how do they reflect your personality?
Lydia Mondavi: I love red wine—cabernets, petite syrah, malbec and old vine zinfandels are my favorites. I would say red wine represents my personality in the sense that I love color, texture, all things silky, chocolate and richness, and red wine has very similar characteristics.
GCI: How similar is making a fine wine to formulating a cosmetic product from concept to the shelf?
Lydia Mondavi: Formulation in making wine and making cosmetics is very similar in that they are both luxury products requiring much dedication, perfection and quality. They take time not only in formulation but in packaging, as well.
GCI: I read that you outsource the creation of your cosmetics outside of Milan, Italy, and the finished products are shipped to Georgia where you have a distribution company. Did you partner with a contract manufacturer to create the cosmetics?
Lydia Mondavi: We manufacture our color cosmetic line for 29 in Italy, and the finished goods are shipped to our warehouse in Georgia, where my family handles all of the shipping, receiving and quality control. We did not partner with a contract manufacturer. We make each and every product especially for 29 utilizing our exclusive grape seed age protecting formula.
GCI: Are you of Italian descent, and how has traveling to Italy influenced your style and cosmetics business?
Lydia Mondavi: I am from the U.S., but Italy is an amazing place to experience the world of fashion and beauty. Each time we visit for business or personal vacations, we find new and exciting ideas that inspire us.
GCI: How do California’s Napa Valley and Highway 29—after which you named and designed your cosmetics line—embody the American spirit?
Lydia Mondavi: California inspires beauty and enjoying the indoors and outdoors. The wines in America have been greatly influenced and inspired by the California wine country region, and Highway 29 is the picturesque road that runs the length of the grape-growing region in Napa.
GCI: You spent years formulating spa and beauty products for the luxury market, i.e. with Ralph Lauren. Did this stem from a chemistry or marketing background? Please tell me more about where you got your start in the beauty industry.
Lydia Mondavi: I started with Ralph Lauren as a marketing coordinator in the Cosmair beauty division and then became an executive director for a spa company in Atlanta. I then launched my spa consulting company developing spas and resorts around the world.
GCI: What did those positions teach you that have made you the successful business woman you are today?
Lydia Mondavi: The luxury market is amazing whether you are creating a luxury wine or luxury cosmetics. Working with the spas and resorts around the world has given me a wonderful insight into the needs of the luxury client and the needs in the marketplace for brands of distinction and brands to meet and exceed the needs of our clients.