This year Esela had the unique opportunity to be a business represented at CosmoProf NA in Las Vegas this year. We met lots of great people (including but not limited to, Manny MUA, see photo below) and got to see lots of other unique beauty brands from all over the world.
Now. Let's talk about the real tea. The pro's and cons, the good and bad, and if being a part of the convention was worth it.
First off, CosmoProf North America, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with what I'm even talking about is, according to their website, "the leading B2B beauty exhibition in the Americas, recognized for its dynamic growth and unique programs. The event offers the entire industry an opportunity to come together, make new relationships, and foster collaborations. CPNA serves as the premier launching pad for new beauty brands, introducing revolutionary technologies, product innovations, and new channels for distribution, packaging, and manufacturing."
Basically, it's a giant sleepover with all of the cliques of the beauty industry. Product, packaging, marketing, PR, the list goes on and on. Brands ranging from Kylie Skin, Juno & Co., and Ardell, to startups (like us!) come to this event from all over the world. It is a breeding ground for discovering new trends, networking, and business deals.
I'm not going to go into the process of getting into CosmoProf as a vendor, but all of that information is located on their website if you're curious.
So let's dive in.
What we liked about CosmoProf:
- As a first year attendees, we were given a smaller booth set up in a VERY high traffic area. This is the case for all first year attendee's. We were set up smack dab in the middle of the hallway/walking area. This is great for two reasons: Traffic=Builds Brand Awareness and a Small Booth=Intimacy. Sure, some of the bigger booths had lots of product and more space, but they barely talked to anyone throughout the convention because the bigger space was more intimidating. Being placed in a position where people had to talk to us in order to get by was G-R-E-A-T.
- We were able to meet and connect with an incredible amount of people in the beauty industry. As a startup, this was great since our connections in the beauty industry are still quite small. We loved meeting others in the skincare industry, packaging, and other markets. Getting to know others in the industry will help us to grow and improve!
- There was a food court located right outside the convention. This is a plus not only because we're foodies, but mainly because this is a 9 HOUR a DAY, THREE DAY, convention. That makes for long, exhausting days. Having the benefits of the restaurants and food courts of the Mandalay Bay hotel & casino just outside the door was dare I say, life-saving.
- We met Manny MUA. Nuff Said.
- Vegas baby! The convention takes place in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center right on The Strip. You are right in the middle of it all. Additionally- Mandalay Bay is connected to the Four Seasons hotel, which is where we stayed. So after having a glorious nights rest, we only had to walk down to the convention center. No Uber's needed.
What we didn't like as much:
- Long, exhausting days. This is kind of inevitable. Cosmoprof is a massive convention and is an all day long event lasting for three days. If you don't have a large team with you, like us, it makes for a long tiresome day for those involved.
- High-minded people are annoying. We met lots of great people and made some wonderful connections. HOWEVER. Each day we encountered a few folks who's only intention, it seemed, was to bash and criticize our brand. Either our packaging was terrible, or they thought we were copying them, or we were just flat out doing everything wrong. I don't know if this was their backwards way of trying to get us to work with them so that they could "help" or "fix" us, but we weren't buying it. After it all, considering the AMAZING and mass amounts of positive feedback we received during the convention, these negative comments were few and far between. So we are taking the criticism to learn and grow from and vow to never be that awful person to another company!
- It's almost too big. Having so many products and brands and people in one giant space is like having a system overload. It's both a blessing and a curse.
- The Mandalay Bay was the location of the country festival shooting a few years back. This wasn't an issue by any means, just a little bit eerie knowing that this is where the shooting took place.
- Apparently staplers are a big deal? We got so many disapproving looks when people asked us for a stapler and we said we didn't have one. Weird.
If you're thinking about attending CPNA next year, here's what we would recommend:
- The most successful brands, in terms of reach, had something to give away! Bring samples, do a giveaway, make bags to put stuff in, have some candy. Find a way to interact with everyone. People LOVE free stuff. It genuinely doesn't matter what it is, if they don't have to pay for it, people want it. We had samples galore, a giveaway, and swag and SO many people stopped by our booth. Some even came each day to get more samples because they'd tried it, loved it, and wanted more.
- Use the app! Posting on the app surprisingly brought quite a few people to our booth. We would post information about our giveaway and that drove a lot of people our way.
- Walk around and network as much as possible. When you take a break from manning the booth, grab some of your business cards and some samples, and go talk to people. Familiarize yourself with other brands and get some ideas!
- Bring a stapler, I guess. People only wanted this so that they could staple our business card to our brochure. That was literally it.
- Have information at the ready. Business cards are great, but you're also going to want to hand out brochures or pamphlets that hold more information to give to people.
- Do your best to make your booth standout and be as inviting as possible. Some of the bigger booths had massive set ups that were almost intimidating and unwelcoming. So having a warmer, friendlier approach, like a photo wall, free product, etc. is great for attracting people.
- Put your brand out there as much as possible. We paid extra to have our brand brochure put in all of the CosmoProf bags and gave product to CPNA VIPs. The more exposure, the better.
Phew. Okay. Now it's time for our final thoughts...
Overall, CosmoProf was a great experience! We really enjoyed it and learned so much! It's almost invaluable as far as making connections and networking goes. You're not likely going to find all of these people together in the same room again. Seeing what other brands have to offer, learning the trends from all over the world, and trying out others' products is fantastic for getting new ideas for our own brand. Plus, it's in one of the funnest cities in the world. Work hard, play hard.
We would love to go again next year, hopefully we can see some of you there in 2020!