Savannah might be home to the next big skincare sensation—and we have two local ladies to thank for it. By Reilly Mesco. Photos by Izzy Hudgins.
It takes 21 days to form a habit—but a lot more can happen in 28 days, according to Stephanie Duttenhaver and Cindy Edwards, the founders of Sapelo Skincare.
“A new skin cell takes 28 days to form at the basal layer,” Stephanie explains. “Our system encourages new skin cell growth, so it takes 28 days for you to see a real, marked difference in your skin.”
And basal beauty is a hard habit to kick, thanks to Sapelo Skincare’s Savannah-made products, which Stephanie and Cindy have packed with rejuvenating botanicals such as gardenia stem cells and hydrating seaweed.
In fact, their entire product line was inspired by Savannah’s coastal surroundings.
“We started talking one day about the science behind skincare,” Stephanie recalls, “and what we realized is that you need to keep nutrition in your skin. It doesn’t wake up and decide to start making new cells.
“So we’re sitting there by the marsh—we both live by the marsh—and we think, ‘OK, the tide comes in twice a day. All these vitamins and micronutrients nourish our coastline. When the tide comes in, it floods the marsh channels, so boats can go up and deliver the cargo—the nutrients and minerals.’”
The pair designed their delivery system based on Savannah’s familiar, twice-a-day ritual.
“The first step of our system, Renewing Serum, is a water-based product we use to ‘flood the channels,’” Stephanie explains. “Step two, Rejuvenating Cream, is the cargo. The boats—the peptides and the seaweed—deliver nutrition to the base layer of the skin. Step three, Softening Emollient, locks in all the goodness. It acts a breathable barrier.”
To see the results of this process, you need only look at its creators. Stephanie and Cindy are both religious users of their own line, and their skin has that soft, airbrushed quality we all strive for. Their faces are fresh—all the way down to the basal layer.
Made in 912
There’s an authenticity to these two Savannah natives—a notion that can be liberally applied to their products and their personal style.
“We feel like we have to be very careful when we’re making appointments in New York because we want to represent our brand,” Stephanie explains. “They seem to always wear darker colors and leather and we want to represent sophisticated Southerners in the city, so we try to dress as we do when we’re in Savannah.”
It’s a solid choice. After all, every stage of the pair’s success has happened organically—Savannah-style.
First, the two consummate community volunteers met while working on the Savannah Book Festival. After helping to secure big authors like Pat Conroy and Stephen King, they felt like they could take on any challenge together.
Likewise, their “big break” came after Cindy met Maria Beacom of the Harvard Business Review on her way to a Bethesda Academy Fundraiser. Beacom introduced the duo to a number of key supporters, including Pamela Baxter, the president and CEO of LVMH Perfumes and Cosmetics for Christian Dior. Beauty buffs will know Baxter as the maven who made Crème de la Mer a global sensation—and now she’s helping Stephanie and Cindy develop Sapelo Skincare into a bigger brand than they could have imagined.
A Rising Tide
“When we were standing in front of the Dior offices in New York,” Cindy recalls, “I was determined to take everything in and enjoy every minute of that meeting. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know if we’ll ever be back. I don’t know what this will lead to’— because we’re old enough to understand how business works, but we’re also at an age where we can stop and appreciate a moment like that.”
It was more than a moment. With their three main products already on shelves, the partners have plans to roll out a Seaweed Enzyme Mask this year. And the nourishing tide keeps coming in for these second-act entrepreneurs.
“We are ‘of a certain age,’” Cindy laughs. “And I did not think the work would be as full- time as it is. But that’s OK—I love Stephanie! One day, I said, ‘Listen: On a good day, you’re 60 percent and I’m 60 percent, but together, we’re 120 percent. So that’s how we do it.”
(left) Co-founder, Sapelo Skincare
Neighborhood: The Landings at Skidaway
I can go from the Pink House to Pinkie Master’s in my … J. Brand black skinny jeans.
My sense of style is … simple, traditional, understated.
My fashion emergency kit contains … hand cream.
Don’t let me bring my credit card to … any antique store!
Every woman needs a … cashmere sweater.
I feel naked without … my lipstick: Revlon’s Copperglaze Sienna.
I dress to impress … my husband.
My fashion role model is … Doris Day. I adored her wardrobe in Pillow Talk!
My favorite fashion decade is … the Sixties. I love shift dresses with pearls.
I splurge on … one good handbag a year.
I skimp on … drugstore lipstick (see above).
The most stylish Savannahian, living or dead, is … my mother-in-law, Madge.
My favorite accessories are … The engraved bangle bracelets that my husband gave me following the birth of each of our sons. I almost always wear one or the other.
(right) Co-founder, Sapelo Skincare
Neighborhood: The Landings at Skidaway
I can go from the Pink House to Pinkie Master’s in my … boots, a great top and jeans.
My sense of style is … friendly, approachable and simple.
My fashion emergency kit contains … Colorescience SPF Powder.
Don’t let me bring my credit card to … Edgewood Travel.
My magic elixirs are … Sapelo Skincare’s three-step system for the face and Silver Oak Cabernet for the soul!
I build my look around … wherever I’m going.
Every woman needs a … trusted girlfriend.
I dress to impress … myself.
My favorite fashion decade is … the Eighties. I still have a few pieces that Madonna would love.
I splurge on … travel.
I skimp on … fried foods.
Hot off the runways, I’ll try … cropped culottes.