Wow! Attending Indie Beauty Expo in New York last week was such a phenomenal experience. As I write you, I’m still reminiscing about those past few days. When I first heard about iBE this past Spring, I contemplated attending, began stalking the website and immediately started procrastinating making my decision. Needless to say, one week before the event I had no ticket and no travel plans. Two days before iBE I finally bought a ticket (thankfully – it was sold out not long after) and booked a one-way flight to New York (I could figure out when and how I was getting home later). Now that iBE is over and I am safely home, I can say without reservation that attending iBE is easily one of the best decisions I have made all year. Given the chance, every green beauty lover should attend iBE, or a green beauty expo, at least once in a lifetime.
iBE was founded by Jillian Wright and Nader Naeymi-Rad on August 27, 2015, when its inaugural event took place in New York City. One short year later Jillian, a spa owner, entrepreneur and 15-plus-year veteran of the beauty industry, and Nader, a business mogul, have grown iBE to three cities and an ever-expanding list of brands. These and similar efforts have helped to solidify green beauty’s place in our beauty cabinets, on store shelves and in mainstream businesses alike.
Perfect example: I randomly found a hotel for my stay in New York using Hotwire. Hotwire paired me with a cute, modern boutique hotel in Chelsea called The Paul. One of the first things I noticed about my room at The Paul is that the bathroom was stocked with products from Pharmacopia, whose vintage labels boast that the brand specializes in “natural and organic bodycare.” Granted this is probably more greenwashing than anything, it was still a fitting welcome for this trip. Even though it seems like you need a FOIA request to find the ingredients list for any Pharmacopia product, the appearance of so-called “green” bodycare in my hotel bathroom shows that mainstream retailers are recognizing their popularity and importance. Better still, it shows that the mainstream is taking steps in response to the rising demand for toxin-free products. As iBE and similar events grow, we can only hope that more mainstream businesses will see the value of investing in truly natural & organic products.
iBE’s Shop Indie event on August 24, 2016, was my first experience at this type of event, and what a great experience it was. Arriving at the venue, New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion, I immediately felt like I was crashing a swanky, upscale, New York party. As I exited my taxi, I encountered a well-dressed crowd, milling about and chatting with each other outside. The venue itself seemed to be dressed for the occasion too – expertly illuminated in purple and white, adding even more glitz and glamour to the clean and modern aesthetic of the Pavilion. Inside was no different, with the lighting adding the right amount of sophistication to the rows of beautifully and uniquely decorated tables.
Over 120 brands exhibited at iBE 2016 in New York. I read somewhere that a list would be available, indicating which brands are green as opposed to simply indie, but iBE has come and gone and this list remains elusive. Too bad, as it would have made navigating iBE much easier. But I still made out pretty well without it. As an attendee, the best part of the experience is getting to see so many brands up close and personal, and meeting the hardworking, passionate people behind those brands. There are also plenty of discounts and free samples to be had, even by brands that don’t normally offer them. Not to be overlooked, the opportunity to discover new brands and products, whether they are new to the market or simply new to you, is exciting. The shopping experience of iBE is second to none. While I feel like I barely made a dent discovering and getting to know the brands who were there, these are a few of my favs:
Kosmatology – When the brand’s founder, Janis J. Covey, PharmD, told me that she is a compounding pharmacist my antennae immediately perked up. For me there can be no better combination than natural ingredients and science to create effective skincare products. Janis explained that she had originally created kosmatology’s lotion bars for someone she knew with eczema. Having a persistent patch of problem skin myself, I was immediately sold. Now, after a few days of using one of her lotion bars I am in the midst of ordering more so that I won’t have to go without.
Chidoriya – Chidoriya is a New York-based Japanese green beauty brand with a vast array of products. Having to sit out most Asian beauty crazes, I was excited to finally be able to join in the fun. I purchased Chidoriya’s Secret de Maiko Face Cream, mostly for its wonderful calming aroma, and Hinoki Balm, which is said to be antifungal and therefore something I plan to keep nearby for work, travel, and pretty much daily use.
Pour le Monde – As a lover of perfume, replacing questionable, so-called “high-end” perfumes with non-toxic alternatives has been no easy feat. Coming across Pour Le Monde has to be one of my happiest iBE discoveries. Pour le Monde is a natural perfume line with 3 scents: Empower, Envision and Together. I completely fell for Together, which is an earthy floral unlike any other. This subtly romantic and sexy fragrance is the perfect day-to-night perfume, and it smells so good that I find myself wanting to wear it round the clock. Of course scent is a deeply personal preference, but if you are simply looking for a good quality, great smelling option, Pour le Monde is a line not to overlook.
Flynn & King – If there is a darling of iBE NY it should be Flynn & King. This natural beauty brand is based in Brooklyn, and has already been featured in Vogue, Allure, Refinery29 and other beauty publications. The owners, Summer Dinh Manske and Corina McDonnell, actually started the brand to combat the greenwashing they saw at the salon where they used to work. Their products all have very simple ingredients lists, and are not surprisingly, spa worthy. The one product that I tried at iBE and wish I had purchased on the spot is their Balance Facial Toner. I just might order one to keep at the office as an instant de-stressor and refresher. I hope this little brand continues to make big strides.
R. L. Linden & Co. – R. L. Linden & Co. is probably the worst kept secret in the green beauty community. From the outside looking in, it seems like La Balmba Rosa Healing Rose Balm, their flagship product, has always been instantly popular. I first read about La Balmba Rosa in early 2014, and ordered it not long after. The scent was lovely, but digging the balm out of its beautiful weighty, black container, was not. Meeting Robin King, one of the co-founders, was more like catching up with a good friend who I haven’t seen in a while. I was glad to see that La Balmba Rosa is now offered in a tube, and that the brand has expanded and rebranded their product line. Rediscovering R. L. Linden & Co. was definitely a highlight of my iBE experience.
Root Beauty – Despite the near-constant crowds and fun atmosphere of this table at iBE, I was completely prepared to walk past and keep going. Just glimpsing at the foundation shades, I could tell that none were suited to my skin tone so I didn’t see much need to explore further. Thankfully Krista, the incredibly sweet and passionate founder, stopped me and we spent a while chatting about the Root brand. I never mentioned that I was a blogger, but as I was about to walk off Krista made sure that I got a free sample. In a matter of seconds she expertly chose Janessa from a huge bag of samples and we parted ways. While I’d love to talk to her about expanding the range of Root’s foundations, Janessa turned out to be the prettiest, shimmery purple eyeshadow on my dark brown skin. I see myself doing some shopping on their website in the near future.
I could go on and on, but by now you get the point – going to iBE for yourself is an irreplaceable, fun, slightly costly experience! But, as MasterCard has taught us over the years, some experiences, though costly, are priceless. After all, it is one thing for me to tell you that Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes, is one of the nicest people I have ever met. But it is another thing for you to attend iBE, meet her and the other people behind some of these great indie beauty brands, and have that experience for yourself.
Of course with over 120 brands on display, this is just a small glimpse into the Shop Indie event at iBE. The sheer number of brands and products to explore, and the diversity among them was a welcome surprise. Brands hailing from the East Coast to the West Coast of the U.S., and from Australia to Japan were all on display. And while there is lots of room for improvement, there is no doubt that the growth of diversity in the natural and organic beauty world will continue to happen. The rise of indie beauty brands and events like iBE guaranty this because, at the end of the day, #weareindiebeauty.