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22 Coolest Beauty Products We Found At The Indie Beauty Expo

Skin Care

Where we also caught up with the co-founder

When it comes to some of our favorite products at NYLON, they are often from under-the-radar brands that have either come recommended to us or have just one day magically landed on our desks. But with a beauty market currently oversaturated with the Etsys of the world, it gets increasingly harder to sort out the good from the not-so-great when it comes to smaller brands. Luckily events like Indie Beauty Expo can do all the sleuthing and sorting for us. 

Serving as a platform to discover, recognize, showcase, and celebrate independent beauty, wellness, and lifestyle brands, the trade show was founded a year ago by Jillian Wright, celebrity aesthetician (who has worked on the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kristen Wiig) and founder of Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa and Jillian Wright Skincare, and Nader Naeymi-Rad, entrepreneur and management consultant, to support the growth and success of indie brands.

After years of being an aesthetician, the idea of the Expo first came to Wright when she was getting ready to go to market with her line. She soon discovered that there was nowhere to go to introduce her products to the public. “My colleagues and friends and I didn’t have a platform to showcase our products, launch new packaging and formulas, and connect with the right people to elevate our brands for further distribution,” Wright says. And despite her industry connections and reputation, the mass retailers and distributors were no help either. “Even with my very successful spa, I found it difficult to get my products in front of new people,” she says. “The beauty industry, as I knew it, ignored luxury indie beauty brands; it was all about big dollars and mass consumption and I felt—and perhaps this is unfair to say—there was no regard for the consumer or new ideas, such as clean beauty products or green beauty products.”

She quickly learned that, with more competition than ever, it was going to take a lot more than supplying high-quality products to make her line successful. She next participated in a few trade shows, only to realize that they weren’t effective for her business and were not getting her the exposure she needed. “I needed guidance and there was none,” she says. “And I knew I wasn't alone. As a spa owner. I had learned of so many great new brands and ideas, and I didn’t see them represented at shows or on shelves at all.” Wright took matters into her own hands, and Indie Beauty Expo was soon born with the intention of bringing brands, buyers, and consumers together in a "meaningful, grassroots way, where people could meet each other and connect over these amazing entrepreneurs who have but nothing short of their blood in their businesses.”

In making the Indie Beauty Expo, Wright set out to create an event where she could showcase “the most incredible, hard-to-find products on the market” and give small, independent brands the credit that they deserve in the industry. “Indie brands are changing the way people shop for their beauty. Indie brands are trendsetters; they are looking for new solutions to problems consumers face, new solutions for the environment, new alternatives to canned, packaged marketing.”

The brands, 130 of them at Wednesday’s 2016 event to be exact, are seriously vetted before being selected to participate. “A brand should be ready for distribution, have beautiful packaging, solid formulation, and a reason for people to buy their products. We go for brands that are beautiful, have great websites, are professional, and can support the retail environment,” says Wright. “Most of all, they should have a story to tell.”

With that in mind, we set out to the expo for the very first time. In addition to meeting some incredible on-the-rise indie beauty brands—some brand-new to us, some that we’ve had an opportunity to test out previously, and some that are already stocking our medicine cabinet—and hearing some inspiring stories of their beginnings, we experienced the interactive portion of the show. Titled Shop Indie, it involved live music from Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss, flower crown DIYs, mini beauty and hair makeovers, and even an express peel bar. “This is more than a tradeshow. It’s a spirit and an energy and there is so much potential to keep the creativity flowing and blowing it out year after year,” says Wright of the experience.

And, of course, we got to sample a giant selection of new products. Ahead the 22 that impressed us the most.

Infused with organic pigments, this gorgeous iridescent nail polish is five-free, made without parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, GMOs, triclosan. It's also vegan and cruelty-free—making this an obvious choice for any nail polish fanatic.

Adesse, Liquid Chrome Nail Polish in ‘St. Regis,’ $20, available at Adesse.

 

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She considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth"

Dani Okon, NYLON's associate creative director of video, sat down with her great-aunt, May Okon, to talk about their shared experiences—despite vastly different time frames—living as queer women in New York City. Prior to retirement, May was a journalist for the New York Daily News, having first entered the male-dominated workforce when "the boys were all at war." And, of course, she absolutely killed it. Her only regret? "Retiring at 55," she tells Dani, joking, "Who the hell knew I was gonna live to 100?"

Upon retiring, she moved out to the Hamptons with her partner and bought a home. If she had to do it all over, May says "there are a lot of things I wouldn't do," but she still considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth." Get to know May in the video, above.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Marlene Colburn and Naima Green
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Gretta Wilson + Katie Sadler
Edited by: Madeline Stedman

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Here's how they're making sure it doesn't happen

Lauren Morelli, the showrunner and executive producer for the new Netflix show Tales of the City, is fostering a space where multiple queer realities can be shown on-screen. She spoke with one of the cast members, trans actor Garcia (who plays Jake Rodriguez on the show), and, in the video above, they explore why it's wrong to treat queer stories as representative of the entire community. Tokenization is something that they both want to avoid at all costs, and they're on the right track.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Gretta Wilson + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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"Nothing is truly a binary"

We put non-binary activist Eddie Jarrel Jones and The Phluid Project founder Rob Smith in conversation with each other, and the two spoke some powerful truths about the continued gendering of products like makeup and clothing. Smith recalls that 30 years ago, the only way that he was able to experience the joys of playing with makeup was to work at a beauty counter. Even today, Jones notes that it's hard for non-binary femmes like them, or even trans women, to get that experience in stores.

In the video above, get a sense of why Smith created a genderless store, and see how important it is for people like Jones to have a space where they don't feel criticized for dressing like they want.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Charlotte Prager + Dani Okon
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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We put the two activists in conversation

Marlene Colburn, one of the founders of the Dyke March, and Naima Green, an artist currently working on a project and archive called Pur·suit, which will document queer people of all identities, agree that it's really hard to find lesbian spaces that aren't bars. Just as hard, it seems, is to find lesbian representation that isn't white. In the video above, the two talk about how they are creating space for queer people and what that looks like within two different generations.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Dani Okon + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Charlotte Prager

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