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Q&A with Jillian Wright, Founder of Indie Beauty Expo

Mable Yiu

In the beauty industry, there are countless products being introduced into the market every month — many that focus on using all natural ingredients and work to not only enhance natural beauty but to also nourish and benefit the skin. In order to introduce these new independent brands to consumers, press and buyers, Jillian Wright has created the Indie Beauty Expo, held annually in New York and Los Angeles (and soon to be in Dallas starting May 2017!). As an esthetician and founder of her own skincare line, Jillian knows the ins and outs of the beauty industry and gives valuable advice to emerging brands.

On what IBE is to her...

"It’s more of a community and family that we are growing. It’s so nice to see everyone interested in independent beauty, discovering something new, finding an expert source. And of course, the buyers — all you need is that one buyer like Anthropology and Barneys. Because these brands put their heart and soul into these brands and because they are investing so much in themselves, it's nice to see it reciprocated."

On the start of IBE...

"It started in New York. I launched my own skin care line a few years ago, and I thought that having been in the industry for ten years, people would just come to me. But you have to work really, really hard no matter who you are or which famous person you’ve worked on. There’s a lot of competition, so I had to rethink the way that I was going to promote my brand and I decided to do a trade show. After doing tons of research, I couldn’t find one that fits. I felt like a wallflower — why would I spend the time and energy in doing something where I don’t fit in? So I decided to make my own. The press component is interesting because I wanted to create an environment to inspire them. And then the brands feel so good, because it gives them the confidence to grow."

On challenges in keeping IBE successful expo after expo (and her favorite color)...

"You can’t really visualize the kinetic energy in the room when people are together and creating that electricity. Last year definitely exceeded my expectations. Then year after year you have to make sure you keep up that level of interest and excitement, so you can’t be repetitive. There will always be new and fresh brands as the lifeline of the show. We always do something different, having women and men feeling confident and inspired. Everything in the environment is meant to make you feel pretty and lift you up. With that said, we’ll always have something new, inventive and creative. In LA last year, we did a flower wall with real flowers and this year in New York, we decided to go with a floor to ceiling wall of paper flowers, something more avant-garde. I have to admit that purple is my favorite color, so that’s why you see it everywhere. Purple is also the color of strength and the color of being a goddess."

On reaching out to new brands to feature in the expo...

"It’s very relaxing for me to surf beauty on Instagram and I get an emotional connection to the brand. It’s like dating… I’m flirting on Instagram!"

On making each expo unique...

"Every town has its own flavor, just like every brand has its own flavor. We are really in tune with where we have the show, the type of decor…We are never in a white box, and never will be. [In New York,] we ask our exhibitors if they want to stay in the Met Pavilion or if they want us to grow."  

On the IBE team and purpose of the face-to-face aspect of the expo...

"We’ve been growing our team, because your team is everything — it takes a village! Our team is so strong. They each do three times the amount of work they should be doing because they believe in this movement and this platform we are providing for these brands. And it’s only going to catch on. How could it not? It’s all about the brands, the buyers discovering and reconnecting. There’s a lot you can’t convey over social media. Nothing will every replace that human touch."

On expanding internationally...

"We are looking at Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. It requires a lot of research and due diligence but it is already on our radar. We’re taking chances and making it happen."

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Indie Beauty Expo.