The International Makeup Artists Trade Show took its next London installment to Kensignton Olympia Hall between Friday 21st and Sunday 23rd June. IMATS as it’s known, is held yearly in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and New York. This event is the stuff makeup dreams are made of: all the best professional brands at superb prices, reknowned speakers in the industry and a display of beautiful makeup artistry from across the world. Sure, sounds all happy, but there is also plenty to be upset about…
Day 1 (Friday) was opened only to Makeup Artists Pro Card holders which I tried to get but couldn’t, so I was only able to with the rest of us mortals on Saturday and Sunday. I decided to get a ticket for Day 2 (Saturday) during the online pre-sales, well aware it was going to be madness since this was the first day opened to the public.
Reasons to LOVE #1: The Best of the Best in one giant room
Reknowned brands in the industry were present, both those that only cater to the professional makeup artist as well as the ones that have branched out to the general public. The usual suspects were there, M•A•C, MAKE UP FOR EVER, and Inglot were there. NARS joined this year as well as one of my favorites, Obssesive Compulsive Cosmetics (they came back). Other budget, but favorites with the public because of their amazing quality were present such as Stargazer, NYX, as well as the massive brush specialists Crown Brushes and Royal and Langnickel.
On the professional end there was Kryolan, Graftobian, Kett, Mehron, and other retailers that hold these and other brands. But this was not just a display of product retailers, but as well a very nice place for aspiring makeup artists to scoop the best schools in the biz.
Reasons to HATE #1: Just because you are The Best (or the cheapest) doesn’t mean you have to be a douchebag
I had my fare share of not so pleasant encounters. Some brands seem to feel they are too good to be nice to potential customers. Seriously, this is not the best economy to be throwing £20+ on a little lipstick. Make it worth your customer’s while, businesses! The whole thing was very crowded and it is very normal that you are going to be standing around waiting to be helped. But there were A LOT of stands were there were A LOT of sales people standing around giving the stink eye for no reason. Both high end and budget! Sure, I’m only spending £10, but you can easily make your customer spend more with good service.
I didn’t really bother too much with the larger brands because with some of them I already have Pro discounts (i.e. M•A•C and MAKE UP FOR EVER). Others like Bobby Brown had a tiny, tiny booth to promote their pro program. A nice girl was very friendly and didn’t treat my like a waste of time because I’m not based in the UK and their program is not yet opened to other parts of Europe (she even encouraged me to keep checking the website for updates on this). NARS needs to get a grip for sure. I’ve had my bad run-ins with the brand online and at IMATS they acted a bit like you should be honored to be in their presence. I currently own two NARS products and I can tell you I have NO plans to get any more!
Reasons to LOVE #2: Meeting your favorite beauty gurus and interacting with them
It was a lot of fun meeting those famous YouTube gurus, talking to them, and having your picture taken. Very celebrity like I have to say! I was expecting to see some of these famous faces being quite the event for everyone in the business and those of us reporting about the business. Most of them were super nice and gracious, took the time to answer questions from all their super loyal fans and even those who didn’t even know who they were before this day! I only interacted with some of these Internet celebrities, but I did spot others such as missglamorazzi and fleudeforce.
There was a panel which was originally to be hosted by the famous Pixiwoo sisters with Ruth Crilly and Caroline Hirons as guests, however, the ladies had a family commitment and could not make it. We instead had Louise from Sprinkle of Glitter and Anna from Viviana Does Makeup. They spoke about the power of social media in the industry. For me it was nothing new, honestly, if anything it proves it is really, really hard to make it in this business of blogging, even more so today that this is quite the oversaturated niche (more on this topic in a different post!).
Reasons to HATE #2: Not meeting anyone else except the people you go with…or no one if you go alone
Looking at the crowds you could see most people joined in “packs”. This was really a parade of young girls in their best looks (not to mention some fierce and fabulous boys) going gaga over all the colorful selection of makeup available at different booths. I’m a very social and chatty lady, but didn’t really meet many people. I’m not moping, I’m a big girl and I can take it, hehehehe! But I wish I could’ve networked a little bit more and get some meaningful connections out of it.
It wasn’t all lonely lunches and lipstick testing, of course, I did get to talk to some up and coming brands and it was interesting to hear them. I also made a new fellow blogging and social media “friends” which coincidentially lived in Belgium! Go figure! Earlier I had spotted a couple of Belgians in the Makeup Museum and I attempted talking to them but they smiled and went on their way. You can’t really generalize, but in the 9 years I’ve lived in Belgium I’ve met more people like those two than social ones. In any case, I’m happy to have met the lovely Segun from Lotions and Potions and Me (if you are a woman of color and fabulous like she is, you must visit her blog!)
Reasons to LOVE #3: Makeup is truly an art and you easily see that in this forum
One of the features of this forum is the different speakers invited to share some of their wisdom with them. Just like I mentioned in reason #2, we had a social media talk which was jammed packed. However, this was not the biggest crowd drawer. There were two huge stages on the sides if the trade show floor and there you could meet the best of the best. I joined the talk with Hollywood makeup artist Bobby Weiner who demonstrated how to make a burn victim (with a slashed throat) and how to “zombify” a pretty girl. Bobby Weiner is one of my new heroes. You should read her story because it is just amazing!
I mentioned briefly this event always includes a Makeup Museum, which is a selection curated by a makeup artist showcasing the best of the best in makeup artistry. Now here you will find trully breathtaking stuff! The models created are so lifelike at some point I thought the Johnny Depp model in full Jack Sparrow gear was going to turn his eyes and stare right back at me!
Reasons to HATE #3: Why does art have to be so expensive???
If you are a student looking forward to build your kit, this was a great place to get really good deals, but you still had to fork out quite a chunk of money. I was very conservative with my spending and only focused on brands that 1. Had something interesting to offer or 2. Were completely new to me. I still did spend of known brands, however; and my wallet was very angry about that!
Maybe if brands would give out more freebies, people would be willing to spend with less guilt. At least a couple of brands did have some good value deals, i.e. a bunch of their products bundled in a nice pack at a reasonable price. I know putting my marketing business hat on, it makes sense to try to do the minimum amount of work (at the cheapest possible price) to get the maximum amount of profit. But it’s a different economy people, and it’s time to try a couple of new things to empower the customer… Just saying!
Reasons to LOVE #4: Variety of products to cater all needs – And discovering some little known wonders
Do you need a new eyeshadow from your favorite brand? You will probably find it at IMATS. How about a new set of makeup brushes? Sure, that too. And if you have more specific needs such as pigments, glue, silicone, decorative paper lashes, a makeup train for your kit, well, youwill certainly find those, too! I found out there is a market for mink lashes which look super natural and you can wearup to 25 times! (I can’t reallygive those a try, sorry!). The possibilities are endless! Did you know there is this wonderful product called Face Lace by makeup artist Phyllis Cohen? A true remarkable product (albeit impractical for daily use, hehehe). And how about a professional teeth whitening product that gives you the same results as the dentist and it doesn’t damage the tooth enamel?
I discovered a couple of other brands I’ve never tried before, and I’m looking forward totest their products. Make-Up Designory (also known as MUD) has some pretty cool products I’ll be testing. I also got some product from a Canadian company called BeautySoClean, who sells a bucnh of cometic desinfecting products. Considering how many things I own and the clients I work on, these will be a welcome addition to my current makeup sanitation process (without ruining it!)! I will be doing a separate haul post of all my IMATS purchases.
Reasons to HATE #4: We’re going to need a bigger BOOTH!
Crowds are a big nuisance at IMATS, especially on Saturdays. Some brands seem oblivious to that fact and make the tiniest little stands possible. They are certainly maximizing their profits, so good for them. Not so good for us. One stand that was particularly annoying this year was NYX’s. I don’t know if it was the same last year, maybe this year they tried something new: basically you had to stand in line (queue for the Brits) in order to see the counter of products. Then there was another line to pay. Or maybe they were the same. In any case, the whole system was complex enough (not to mention insanely long) to make me go, “uhhhhh, no, thanks.”
Reasons to LOVE #5: There is SO MUCH talent out there it’s amazing!
An amazing feature of this event is the Battle of the Brushes, a student competition that awards the best look in their category with. Saturday’s competition was fantasy / beauty makeup, inspired by the elements (water, air, fire, and earth). Sunday was character / prosthetics. Since I only went there Saturday I only got to see the fab creations by the students inspired by the elements. There was so much glittler everywhere!
Aside from the student competition, different companies / makeup schools do their own displays or artistry to promote their brands. The stuff they come up with is just genious and incredibly beautiful. You need a lot of dedication, patience and love for the craft to make it in the business for sure!
Reasons to HATE #5: The industry needs to do more work with bloggers. And not just the big ones!
I need to bring back a point from reason #3 because it ties up with this ne nicely. Businesses will try to maximize the outcome of their marketing efforts by targeting the segments that will give them more leverage to accomplish this at the lowest cost. Again, it totally makes sense when I put my business hat on. But I wear my dual-powered blogger-business lady, I cannot seem to shake off the idea of what a huge opportunity it would be to nurture all those little blogs (like yours truly) just as much as the big ones, especially at events like this.
Imagine brand x would make a little goody bag to give out for free (with or without purchase) to bloggers visiting their booth at IMATS. For a couple of weeks you are going to have the Blogosphere a-buzz with your product. Haul videos will be made on YouTube showing all these nice products and if brand x has a good product in their hands, imagine the good reviews it’ll get. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Well, maybe you could, but at what cost! Let me tell you one thing, my blog has grown from being read by three people to a couple of hundred a day. When I’m pulling the millions a day, I’m going to remember those who were nice to me on the way up… Once again, just saying!
I loved the time in IMATS and I can’t wait to join next year. Maybe I’ll even join the two days instead of one and crazy with my shopping! Or better yet, by the same time next year I’ll be such a popular blogger, I’ll be getting most products thrown at me for free!