Why We’re Craving
Indie Beauty

Tickets on sale now for the Indie Beauty Expo May 4 + 5 in Los Angeles.

The obsession is real. We are hooked on indie beauty and simply can’t get enough. Nothing appeals to a seasoned eye quite like a fresh product that has not saturated the beauty space yet. But something unexpected is unfolding too. Indie companies are revolutionizing the way we shop—and they’re also revolutionizing the way we create beauty products. This seemingly minor segment is gaining momentum and is influencing trends in the broader cosmetics and skincare industry in an unprecedented way.

Indie Beauty Expo

photo courtesy of Indie Beauty Expo

I’m not usually one to find statistics too interesting, but these numbers are staggering. The last five years have shown that indie beauty has grown four times as much as industry brands even though they comprise only 7.3% of total market value, according to a Kline market research report at the end of last year. In the period between 2013-2014, indie brands grew at a whopping rate of 19.6%! Just to give you an idea of why that’s significant, the $43 billion industry delivered a growth rate of less than 3% per annum. All the more reason why a venue showcasing indie brands like Indie Beauty Expo (iBE) is timelier than ever. Founders Jillian Wright and Nader Naeymi-Rad clearly felt the pulse of an industry that’s in demand and poised for change. “We are providing a platform for people in this community ­– whether you are an exhibitor, buyer, press, or beauty consumer – to create an electricity, an energy, that when we are all in the same room amplifies to a level that could never be manufactured,” Wright said.
Indie Beauty Expo_Bottega Organica

photo courtesy of Sarita Coren

It’s not surprising then, that the inaugural Indie Beauty Expo in August 2015 located in the heart of NYC attracted a Who’s Who list of buyers, ranging from Target and Whole Foods to Saks and Barneys, as well as an equally impressive influx of press, bloggers, and beauty fans. At times, the onrush of the beauty curious made it hard to navigate the crowd. Among the rows and rows of tables and booths, eco-conscious businesses like Osmia Organics, Bottega Organica, Lotus Wei, Mun, SkinOwl, Java Skincare, Kahina Giving Beauty, Innersense Organic Beauty, Modern Minerals Makeup, Pour Le Monde, Isa’s Restoratives and others stood out amongst a diverse collection of indie beauty brands. Their emergence sends a key message that sustainable, eco-friendly options—once pegged for the tree-hugging sector—have a rightful place among the fashion set without compromising elegance and efficacy. For any beauty aficionado, it was like exploring the aisles of an evolved beauty and lifestyle boutique—gone global.

This year, an increased international presence, shows in two major cities (NY and LA), an expert panel and speakers, and amped up publicity promise to give the venue even greater significance. Until now, the only foothold for indie brands in the broader marketplace has been confined to tradeshows, farmer’s markets, festivals, and pop-up shops that do not rival the opportunities that iBE affords. As a brand founder of her own eponymous line, Wright created iBE because she felt invisible in a sea of other businesses with no one to look after her. “As an indie brand myself I felt very lost and not taken care of,” she confessed. “I never did the tradeshow circuit so when I mentally committed, I felt like an outsider. “Who could I trust with my brand?  I was willing to invest, but I didn’t know what I was going to get.  Was I ready for distribution?  How would I decorate my booth? To be honest, I was scared. I really didn’t know what I was going to get? Who should I expect to meet?  Should I invite my own buyers?  Seriously I was clueless.  iBE has really come from a very personal story of my own experience and I was just frustrated.”

Indie Beauty Expo_Modern Minerals Makeup

photo courtesy of Sarita Coren

Wright is absolutely clear of her goals in creating iBE: to showcase independent beauty brands. “We listen to each and every brand and are driven to fulfill their needs,” she said. “We are laser focused on bringing more creativity, energy and excitement to each show. These are the three most important components to their success.” The magic of indie brands versus mass produced beauty brands may be simple. We can connect with their small roots on a personal level. “Indie brands are driving innovation and challenging the old ways of formulating, connecting with people through social, and driving home the power and importance of clean beauty,” Wright said. We love meeting the makers and getting to know them. Often the founders run their own social media accounts or represent their brands at shows in place of a large PR team, so consumers get to interface directly with the source—that’s not something that happens at the MAC counter.

They’re also able to deliver leading edge products in ways larger corporations don’t—or don’t have to. According to Wright, “Indie beauty brands have the freedom and tenacity to push the limits to bring multi-faceted sustainability and efficacious skincare to the market in a new way.” Delving into the psyche beneath it all, there is boldness—almost audacity—of an indie brand that sends people a “we did it, so can you” missive. Who doesn’t love the image of someone following their heartfelt dreams—and winning?

Indie Beauty Expo_Osmia Organics

photo courtesy of Sarita Coren

A mere glance at Beauty Heroes curated brands who were also at iBE proves it—whether it’s Sarah Villafranco, M.D., founder of Osmia Organics, who gave up her practice as a medical doctor because she discovered a passion for making products that relieve symptoms of perioral dermatitis, or Annie Tevelin, founder of SkinOwl and a popular makeup artist who left her successful career to study cosmetic chemistry in order to create formulas that would work to heal her cystic acne and that of others. Oh yes, we can’t help but love the risk-takers who pave the way.

As Wright said: “There is so much passion and drive from indie brand, each with their own story.” Though iBE affords an incredible opportunity for small businesses to move forward as individual companies, there is a larger scope that can’t be missed. The more small businesses band together collectively in the space that Indie Beauty Expo provides, the more the industry is forced to wake up and take notice. “We are driving change on a national, hopefully global level,” Wright explained.  “This year alone micro beads have been banned from cosmetics.  Leading this fight is 5Gyres who is partnering with us for iBE 2016.” She went on to explain that indie brands that are accepted to iBE would never use plastic micro beads in their formulas because they care about the health of our environment and of people. “Indie brands spend more time to go the distance.  The ultimate goal is for our voice to be heard and for other companies to follow suit.”

Jillian Wright’s words seem propitious, “Imagine being able to change the beauty industry one indie brand at a time.” It is venues like iBE that prove that they can. As Wright says: “Being indie isn’t a trend, we are driving the trends.”

The Indie Beauty is a two day event taking place in New York August 24 + 25 2016. Consumers can buy tickets to attend the first day which is open to the public and where beauty fans can meet with and shop their favorite indie beauty brands. The second day of the show is a private event open to qualified buyers and media. Learn more.

About Sarita Coren

Licensed social worker Sarita Coren is a holistic mom of five with more than 20 years of experience in the health and wellness field. Dubbed “the godmother of green beauty” by industry insiders, she writes the clean living blog at SaritaCoren.com. When she’s not capturing green beauty products on her popular Instagram account, you’ll find her connecting industry tastemakers, offering small brands her photography and social media consulting services, and writing about all things healthy living for various publications. She loves being 45 and (mostly) stopped counting her grey hairs, even the two in her eyebrows.

Blog: Edible Facial |Twitter: @saritacoren | Instagram: @saritacoren | Pinterest: Sarita Coren | Facebook group: Green Beauty Insiders (moderator) | Brand Ambassador Beauty Heroes | Brand Ambassador Indie Beauty Expo

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