These days, a woman’s medicine cabinet is full of gorgeous face oils, charcoal soaps, microbead-free exfoliating scrubs, and other forward-thinking potions she’s almost always purchased from a cool online natural beauty retailer.
But while the indie beauty market is booming, and natural brands are now making great products that also appeal to the most meticulous label-readers, it’s still hard to find stores to test and shop for them, explains New York City facialist-turned-beauty formulator Jillian Wright, who created a brilliant solution.
“The natural beauty customers’ needs and desires are being heard loud and clear,” says Wright, who co-founded the first-of-its-kind Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) last year. “What they’re searching for and choosing to buy is changing the direction of an entire industry. The old market was dominated by big corporate brands with roots in the synthetics or petrochemical businesses—and that’s just not appealing to the new generation of thoughtful consumers.”
The inaugural IBE in Manhattan last August drew hundreds of beauty mavens (and store buyers) to shop for indie companies that they may have only seen online, from tiny new cool ones like Skin Owl, and cult-faves like Lotus Wei and SW Basics, to bigger natural brands like Tata Harper. There were steep discounts across all the companies, too. The result? Throngs that rival a Manolo Blahnik sample sale.
So this year the show will double down in every possible way, starting with its location. The 2016 expo will take over the East and West Coasts by hosting two-day events in both Los Angeles (May 4 and 5) and NYC (August 24 and 25). And this year’s expos will also be twice as long, with twice as many brands (think upwards of 160 total)—including wellness and lifestyle brands added in to the mix.
With this growth, the Indie Beauty Expo solidifies its spot as a go-to for both consumers to get their hands on cool, hard-to-find, good-for-you beauty brands and for big-name store buyers (from Nordstrom to Target) to shop for new lines to carry. “Lots of wonderful beauty brands got picked up by stores for larger distribution,” says Wright, who’s proud of helping create such opportunities for brands who can’t afford the gigantic trade shows like Cosmoprof, where much of the discoveries and decisions happen regarding what’s sold on department store beauty counters.
By focusing on smaller brands, Wright’s on to something big. In 2014, indie brands represented $3.12 billion of the $43 billion US cosmetics and beauty market, according to The Kline Group—and indie brands are growing at a rate of 20 percent per year.
“There has never been such an amazing choice of great, high-quality indie and natural brands to choose from. And it’s happening because consumers are demanding it,” says Wright, who’s definitely making it way easier for us to find them. —Alison Feller and Melisse Gelula
Want to get your hair healthy and looking good? May we present: the best natural shampoos and conditioners for every hair type.
(Photos: Indie Beauty Expo)