With inclusivity top-of-mind in the beauty industry, Project Beauty Expo is doubling in size, including more wellness-oriented brands and adding a merchandise marketplace. The indie beauty exhibition is created for and by women of color and will be held Aug. 12 at the Hudson Mercantile annex in Manhattan.
Project Beauty Expo grew out of founder Brittany Brown’s frustration uncovering exhibits geared to Millennial women of color. “I started my own skin-care line in 2016 and I found that events for women of color with a focus on natural beauty and wellness didn’t exist. So, I created my own.”
The first gathering was held in Washington with about 100 attendees. Attendance doubled to 200 and 22 brands last year with the move to Manhattan. This year Brown expects 45 companies and 400 attendees. Plans call to extend into Los Angeles for the expo in 2019.
But with the rapid growth, Brown said she’ll cap brand participation at 50 to keep an intimate vibe. Companies slated to participate this year include Base Butter, Cosmic Juice, Girl + Hair, Raike, Plant Apothecary, Marjani Beauty and True Moringa. “We’ve been able in the past to help take brands from obscurity to visibility,” Brown said.
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The groundswell of interest prompted her to add handpicked merchandise that dovetails with the beauty brands on hand. “We’re more than just beauty, we are about curating a lifestyle for women of color who go beyond just the products in their medicine cabinets.” One of the collaborations this year is an exclusive yoga mat, retailing for $79, from Sugarmat. The merchandising space will also highlight three artists.
The day will be divided into two events. Editors and buyers can prowl the exhibits in the morning with the afternoon open to the general public, as well. There will be an influencer-led wellness activity and panels featuring industry leaders, influencers and publishers who talk about beauty and lifestyle. Set to speak include Tonya Lewis Lee, founder of Movita Organics; Siraad Dirshe, beauty editor at Essence; Christina Rice, founder of Omnoire, and Yve-Car Momperousse, founder of Kreyol Essence. Activations such as a curl bar and exercise activities will be featured.
“Project Beauty’s long-standing goal is to change the standard of how multicultural women are represented in the beauty industry through an intimate experience, while also forging partnerships with brands that seek to target and collaborate with black-owned businesses,” said Brown. “We want to provide a platform for women to connect with Indie brand founders, network with bloggers, beauty enthusiasts, support future makers and artisans and provide women education in beauty, wellness and lifestyle.”