By Krystal Emery
Earlier this month, nail polish lovers gathered in Toronto, Canada for Indie Expo Canada, Canada’s premiere event for small businesses in the beauty industry. The two-day inaugural event held at the Hyatt Regency began on Saturday, June 3, 2017 with power-packed workshops including a “Polish Making Workshop” and presentations for brands and bloggers. Day two was an open cash and carry event focused on indie nail polish but also featured cosmetics, make-up, skin care, and bath and body products. Live workshop demos were a highlight in the late afternoon followed by a Q&A session with bloggers and beauty companies and the evening finished with a great charitable silent auction.
Indie Expo Canada was founded by Pam Heil, creator of Girly Bits Cosmetics of Canada. “I was motivated to start this event because the need and the passion collided. I knew there were many excellent indie brands in Canada, especially in South-Western Ontario, who were not getting the exposure they deserved. There didn’t seem to be any other events in Canada that was focused on indie beauty brands so it made sense to bring them together. Indie brands are among the hottest and fastest growing businesses in the beauty industry. Part of the draw of buying indie is the story behind the brand and the ability to connect the product designers and their ideal customer. I simply provided the platform.”
Over 170 attendees from Canada, the United States and two faithful polish aficionado from The Netherlands were in attendance as well as 20 vendors from five countries. Canadian brands like Beyond The Nail and Girly Bits had oodles of nail lacquers and various nail art powders, decals, and tools perfect for the beginner or advanced nail polish collector. The United States had a nice showing as well with Alter Ego Body Care Products, Tonic Polish, Great Lakes Lacquer, Ever After, Colors by Llarowe and others.
The tutorial tables offered a variety of nail art techniques with live demos and sample nails for participants to try. Tables included Water Marbling with Melissa, Special Effect Powders with Elena, Stamping 101 with Jenne, Advanced Stamping with Tammy, and finally Drip Marbles and other various techniques with Candace and Katherine.
Unique to Indie Expo Canada was the “Paint It Forward” silent auction benefiting the Mount Sinai Marvelle Koffler Breast Cancer Center in Toronto. Various indie companies donated items that were bid on including an IKEA Helmer storage unit, filled with indie polishes and decorated with holographic vinyl and stickers from the various companies. In the end, over $1700 CAD ($1200 USD) was raised with 100% of the money going to Mount Sinai.
Similar to other indie conventions, participants were able to purchase VIP tickets in advance and received a gift bag filled with products from the different vendors. Some vendors created products specifically for the recipients while others provided discount cards or sample products and information. Brands also created special limited edition polishes that had names related to Toronto or Canada. Stand out products include Colors by Llarowe “Can We Have Trudeau”, a black holographic polish; Ever After “Diamonds Are Forever”, an ice blue with rainbow reflective glitter; and Fair Maiden “Northern Exposure”, a multichromal holographic polish.
“Indie Expo Canada launched with a bang, as only indie brands do, and I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to every single person involved, and I look forward to seeing everyone at the next one,” Heil said.
Follow the journey of IEC through their website for more information on the next Canadian Convention!
[Images: Courtesy of Krystal Emery]