Now a national and international event, IBE co-founder Jillian Wright is excited about the continued interest in and innovation showcased by the indie beauty sector.
As IBE continues to expand its footprint—there have been 14 shows to date—it has created a hectic schedule for its co-founder. But even with more travel, and more on her plate, Wright’s interest in indie brands continues to grow deeper.
“I love meeting the brand founders because they are so inspiring,” she told Happi. “A website or brand deck can only tell part of the story. When you meet the creative minds face to face, there’s nothing that compares. Many of them are traveling from all over the world with the dream to do one thing: to grow.”
According to Wright, these smaller and startup brands come to “form partnerships or strengthen current ones with those who will help them scale.”
They are, however, operating in a more crowded space.
“After 14 shows, (this will be our 5th anniversary show in NY!) that energy is still very much alive and electric. My goal is to meet every single brand, but in New York, with 200-plus brands, I have my work cut out for me,” Wright said.
But is there room for everyone or is there a bubble ahead for indie beauty?
“Absolutely not,” insisted Wright. “It is certainly a more crowded lane than ever before, but it is really pushing innovation and differentiation. Competition is healthy. More and more consumers want to expand and invest in their beauty and wellness routines, and more than ever consumers have different needs; for example, a skin care line that also treats eczema, a desire to use organic and free-from formulas, or they just want a wide variety of shades and pigments. Beauty will never go out of fashion. It’s like saying the art world is going to burst one day.”
Wright also offered some sage advice for these startups.
“We have always known that indie brand founders are crafty, quick, and incredibly hard working. Part of the reason for their success is their genuine love for the products they are creating and really understanding what their community wants and needs, which naturally drives innovation. They don’t have anyone looking over their shoulder with mounds of red tape or dinosaur ways of doing business so it takes less time to bring a stellar idea to market. The risk though, is a big conglomerate or a brand with deeper pockets stealing their ideas if they are not legally protected. My advice to any indie brand is, as exciting as it is to launch a new idea, make sure you speak to a lawyer and get your idea protected globally. It’s a cutthroat industry and highly competitive. Not everyone plays nice.”
As IBE marks its fifth anniversary in New York City, organizers have added a new element—Uplink Live, an offshoot of its online UpLink directory which is a vetted directory of industry providers. Several companies have signed on for the showcase in New York, said Wright, who also noted that there IBE will also feature educational presentations and private tours throughout both days.
According to Wright, with the countless service providers available to the world of beauty, it is time consuming and frustrating to weed through to find the right ones that especially want to work with indie beauty entrepreneurs. According to Wright, there are opportunities to form relationships.
“All the time I think about how, in a few years, some of these brand meetings will result in the next 100 million dollar brand,” she said.