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All in the Family: 29 Cosmetics Launches Grape Seed Age Protection

By: Leslie Benson
Posted: August 5, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
Anita Wilbanks and Lydia Mondavi, 29 Cosmetics

Anita Wilbanks and Lydia Mondavi, 29 Cosmetics

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GCI: Do you still hand out copies of Minding the Store, by Stanley Marcus, to your business associates?

Lydia Mondavi: We give each of our product specialists at Neiman Marcus a copy of the book, Minding the Store.

GCI: Why sell 29 Cosmetics exclusively through Neiman Marcus?

Lydia Mondavi: In the luxury market, the key to success is to always represent and present quality in your product and packaging with consistency. To always represent excellence, it is the quest for the best in everything…. It is so important to us as to why we are exclusive to Neiman Marcus. We made this line for Neiman Marcus—for the luxury consumer. It’s about perfect details.

GCI: You recently unveiled the exclusive 29 Spa at The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, Georgia. What types of personalized services do you offer that feature your new cosmetics line? Is Atlanta where you call home nowadays?

Lydia Mondavi: Each and every treatment at the 29 Spa utilizes the grape seed age protecting formula. We will offer exclusive treatments at the 29 Spa custom created for each client. The 29 cosmetic and skin care collection will be featured at the spa. In each of the hotel rooms we are featuring the 29 amenity collection, as well, with replenishing shampoo, conditioner, body moisturizer, bath and shower gel, bath salts and exfoliating soaps. I live in Napa, Calif., with my husband Robert Mondavi, Jr.

GCI: How much of this new business venture is a family affair?

Lydia Mondavi: This is a completely family business. My husband is a winemaker, and we utilize the grape seeds from the winemaking process to create the 29 collection as a grape seed age protecting line. My mom has been instrumental in developing the design of the tester units, packaging, working on the new product development and she launches the 29 brand in Neiman Marcus with me for every launch. My stepdad, Arthur Wilbanks, handles all of our shipping, receiving and logistics in our warehouse in Georgia, and my grandmother, Stella Abernathy, handles our quality control, bar-coding, gifts, press and marketing sets. We just launched a lipstick color for Mother’s Day named Stella’s Cellar (a beautiful magenta fuchsia color) for Stella working in the 29 cosmetics cellar every day. She is 80 years young.

GCI: What are some benefits and challenges to running a family business?

Lydia Mondavi: Learning what each of our strengths and weaknesses are; learning to have balance between work and home, because we all work together, so we are always talking about the business.

GCI: How many employees work for 29 Cosmetics?

Lydia Mondavi: We have seven people working with 29 corporate, and have we 12 product specialists working in our Neiman Marcus stores.

GCI: How has your husband been instrumental in your business success?

Lydia Mondavi: He is extremely supportive in so many ways. He is a winemaker, which produces many grape seeds for the industry. You will usually see him at our launches pouring his wines for our clients and telling them the benefits of red wine extract, the benefits in each of the 29 products and during our tastings, notes on the wines he is pouring.

GCI: Have you ever worked at one of the Mondavi wineries, specifically, in the Napa Valley?