Career Journal

On Buyers & Editors: New Lessons From Indie Beauty Expo in NYC 2016

indie beauty expo ajableu

This month, I jumped on a plane from Los Angeles to New York to exhibit my family’s beauty brand at the Indie Beauty Expo. It was my first time back in Manhattan since college.

We had a lovely table, which showcased our hero prototype, a hair density serum.

Indie Beauty

Kimberly Elise Naturals

What is the Indie Beauty Expo?

Indie Beauty Expo showcases trendy boutique beauty brands that are generally small-batch, organic, and artisanal

Indie beauty brands are fresh and inspiring. They tend to be oriented for small batch manufacturing. E-commerce and social media allows for brands to have a voice.

Indie Beauty Expo is a networking, branding, and sales opportunity crafted specifically for the independent beauty brand owners, or what I affectionately call makers. These makers are generally looking for opportunities to network, sell products to customers, receive inquiries from the press, and (most importantly) finder a buyer.

With that in mind, the founders of Indie Beauty Expo uniquely divided the event into three parts: time for buyers, time for customers, and time for press. Exhibitors were thus able to tailor their message to the unique individual in front of them.

Exhibitors were thus able to tailor their message to the unique individual in front of them.


My mother Kimberly Elise explaining the primary product to interested consumers.

On Buyers & Editors: My Favorite Lessons From The Exclusive Panels

The event was preceded by “Day 0”, where exclusive panels were held at The Dream Hotel downtown. During these panels, buyers and editors provided their insights on getting your product out there in the competitive beauty world.

I wrote down a few notes on what editors and buyers look for when scoping out new beauty brands? 

So, what do buyers look for in an Indie Beauty Brand?

According to the panelists, each buyer is different. Some buyers value exclusivity, while others look for brands with a certain number of skus (and it ranges – 6 skus for small stores, 60 skus for larger brands).

One brand said that they sought indie beauty brands that are below the radar, but were also able to generate the buzz and revenue from their own efforts, however that may be.

Ultimately, pairing with a buyer is like getting into a relationship.


Photo Source : @indiebeautyexpo IG

One buyer said, “you’re going into this kind of like you’re dating.”

And like any relationship, you have to negotiate – in this case a margin.

All of the buyers stressed the importance of training their staff about each brand. One buyer noted that whenever their company launches a new brand, brands will send the founder or a local to do an hour-long training. Training the sales staff is incredibly important. Have your one-liners.


And, what do editors look for in an Indie Beauty Brand?

The editors explained that their process begins by examining what are other publications doing? They ask themselves, what do readers want? What’s trending in beauty?

Ultimately, beauty customers are looking to look better and feel better. So, beauty editors search for products that ultimately solve that problem.


IBE co-founder Jillian Wright +
Melisse Gelula of @wellandgoodnyc Photo Source: @indiebeautyexpo IG

Key Points For Indie Beauty Brands From The Beauty Editors 

  • “Don’t have your publicist tell your story.”
  • Social media: are you using it as a resource?
  • Send editors the entire product, not sample product
  • The more you send out to the media general, the more chance that they have to enjoy it and fall in love with it. “We want to send you anything from our line, we also want to send something your mom and their best friend.”
  • Always include images of your products in your emails. Keep your emails dynamic and interesting.
  • You don’t get the vibe of a brand if you don’t see it and read about it at the same time.
  • Editors aim to look for brands who share their brand values.

iBE will be in Los Angeles on January 18 and 19 in 2017. See you there!

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