August 31, 2015

This past week LOTUSWEI set up a booth at the world’s first Indie Beauty Expo in NYC. I’m writing this post, because I believe there’s a new paradigm of business emerging in our industry and the expo was - I believe - an indicator of a major emerging trend that is very interesting.

If you deeply value creativity, innovation and community - like I do - I wrote this article for you. Here are the highlights:

Indie Beauty is exploding.

Indie Beauty is a phenomenon that I don’t think any of us fully ‘got’ until we saw the turnout at the Indie Beauty Expo last Thursday. Thank you, Jillian Wright and Nader Naeymi-Rad for joining forces to create the Indie Beauty Expo! When I first met Nader, he complimented Jillian on how amazing she is and how they’re such a good blend of skill sets. It’s rare that a man publicly praises a woman for her business-savvy - that says a lot.

In conceptualizing and executing (beautifully) the Indie Beauty Expo, Jillian, Nader & Vibe Veda showed the NYC scene just how lightning speed this phenomenon is growing and how voraciously hungry people are for authentic relationships with brands. We had people visit our booth that had flown in from Miami, South Carolina and even Tokyo and Spain to check out the scene!

Frankly, I was astonished at the massive crowds that showed up for the expo. People were waiting in line on the street to get in before the doors opened, and the line stretched over two city blocks! At the LOTUSWEI booth, we had a team of 3 people and during the day (for buyers & press), we probably only were able to talk to 10% of those who walked by our booth. We were slammed! … All. Day. Long. For 10 hours straight.

If the crews hadn’t come in to deconstruct the lighting, people would’ve stayed into the night. I can’t tell you how many people exclaimed at how incredible the turnout was - they were blown away. Some people were hoping it would be a 2-day event. Imagine the potential for workshops, experiences, hands-on learning and community building!

indie beauty expo

Women have major buying power - and we want to buy from someone we love and have a relationship with.

We don’t just buy coffee anymore. We want coffee from a particular hillside, roasted locally, and brewed by our favorite barista. We want farm-to-table food and we want to buy direct from farmers at the farmer’s markets. We buy from creatives on Etsy and go to company’s websites to buy from and support them directly.

More and more, we’re investing both financially and emotionally into brands that move us, touch us and align with our deepest values. We recognize and appreciate the hustle of these small indie brand founders and see the exquisite attention they place on quality and purity of ingredients and building loving, supportive and growing communities.

The bottom line: We want to buy from people we know are genuine, authentic + make amazing products and services. We want relationships with the founder and their brands and teams and vice versa.

indie beauty expo

Multilingual videos expand our reach.

At the expo I was interviewed on camera by Tamara Sedmak, who interviewed several brands and is translating the videos into four different languages. In this new realm of direct-to-consumer worldwide commerce, the new way is inclusive, multi-faceted and multi-dextrous. That means reaching out to people in their native languages! I even busted out some of my German for the video (I was an exchange student in high school).

indie beauty expo

Social Media Relationships are Real.

There’s nothing quite like meeting over a hundred bloggers, brands and Instagrammers that you’ve never seen in person, but have interacted with through social media. We all feel like we already know each other because we’ve been on social media for so long. I’ve been to many trade shows, but never before have I been to one with hundreds of ultra social media-savvy people that are all aligned in their values of organic and natural beauty + wellness.

To quote Rachael Roberts of Oyl + Water from the panel discussion, “Social media is real media.” Not only is it real media - where we get our information about what’s going on in the world - online relationships lead to offline relationships that make cool things happen.

Bloggers & Brands Elevate Each Other

Bloggers and brands help each other exponentially by elevating each other, and there is a deep mutual appreciation and respect for each other’s work in the world. We’re a sea of folks who are hustling and growing our businesses - we recognize and see that in each other. Observing the level of support brands and bloggers give each other is utterly inspiring. We’re each taking business and media into our own hands and helping each other.

Spa + Wellness + Beauty are finally connecting - through Indie brands.

I always thought it was a bit strange that the wellness, spa and beauty industries were separate. Separate trade shows, separate networks. From Green Spa Network to Natural Products Expo West/East to Beauty shows, the Indie Beauty Expo is embracing it all.

Jeannie Jarnot, a previous spa director, started her own company called SpaHeroes, evolving now into BeautyHeroes. She led and moderated a panel I spoke on with three other fabulous women: Yael Alkalay of Red Flower, Katharine L'Heureux of Kahina Giving Beauty and Rachel Roberts of Oyl + Water.

There was standing room only and it was so fascinating to hear how each woman on the panel had a unique take on how they connect spa, wellness + beauty in their businesses. For those of us that make it our lifestyle, all of those aspects are connected - now there’s a vehicle that is connecting the dots on a more outward level.

New Paradigm of Collaboration

Collaboration has always been a core value for us at LOTUSWEI, and we’ve always had a collaborative relationship with Wei of Chocolate. We also learned this early on with a huge private label project (that catapulted us into the spa industry. It grew our business, our reach and grew me personally as a person.

At the same time, I quickly realized how stunted I felt doing a private label, because my innovation, creativity, productivity, hustle and network could only go as far as the product. After that it was like putting a baby in someone else’s hands. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity and partnership, but in my view and experience, the benefit is vaster when our efforts can expand beyond the product into the marketing, social media efforts, cross-promotion, cross-marketing, etc.

greg hass katie hess

For example, the super talented and innovative Greg Hanss reached out to us for a collaboration in refreshing the spa at L’Auberge de Sedona, that resulted in an herbal apothecary, and a collaboratively-selected custom aromatherapy & flower essence blend, nature and meditation-inspired treatments and joint marketing and press efforts with Spa Director Catherine Powers and Ali Lundberg of JPR. The most memorable moments: watching the the spa staff get trained in herbalism with Lynn Dooher (certified herbalist who works on the LOTUSWEI team) and setting up a pop-up apothecary in a NYC park with Greg and Ali so people could blend their own scrubs and salts.

sedona spadiy sugar scrub

We continued on to collaborate with CAP Beauty, co-designing the Captivator mist, made with aromatherapy & flower essences that is selling like craaaaazy, with a new roll-on perfume on the way.

I mentioned this in the panel I spoke at at the expo, that the old paradigm is private label; the new paradigm is co-branding and collaboratively creating products and stories that elevate both brands and both brand communities (networks).

At the Indie Beauty Expo, Diane Read, founder of Modern Minerals, launched a new line of lip glosses and blush. We collaborated together to make a beautiful aromatherapy scent and flower & gem essences for her lip glosses and coconut-infused blush made of minerals. Natural makeup + flower essences that make you feel beautiful. Needless to say, they sold out at the show, and I think people especially loved the idea of the collaboration. On top of that, Diane collaborated with the beloved Britanie Faith of Beauty by Britanie, known for her popular blog and Instagram posts, to create the color palette.

MM Collab

This is a three-way collaboration: Brand + Brand + Blogger. Diane was sending people my way, I was sending people her way, everyone is finding out about it from Britanie on social media, and the storytelling is so much more interesting! It’s no longer just a conversation about an individual brand, but a multifaceted approach that the community loves.

Collaboration in itself demonstrates a certain style of business - supportive and fearless. When women in business let go of old business paradigms of competition and embrace collaboration, there are exponential benefits.

I hope every brand at the Expo felt what it feels like to be in such demand that competition doesn’t even exist. Some of our biggest loving supporters are brands who have solutions for things that overlap with our products, like Sprayology homeopathy and Urban Moonshine herbal bitters. Both owners of Innersence Organic Beauty, Joanne + Greg Starkman, and their social media maven, Lauren Doko, came up to me at the show, excited about how we both have a product called Inner Peace - now we’re talking about collaborating on some kind of package together!

Just imagine what’s possible with the power of collaboration. We build faster, we expand wider,  we cross-promote and cross-market, we support families and teams of folks who do good in the world and we help each other grow faster by combining our networks of people whose deepest ‘WHY’ is our deepest ‘WHY’.

indie beauty expo

Worldwide Interactive Live TV is here.

I had just downloaded Periscope and did my first one for the show, when I bumped into a friend of mine, Max Goldberg, who asked me to be on his weekly live Periscope show. I was thrilled to see Max and get a peek into what he’s creating - this is a guy who embraces technology to the ‘enth' degree to educate and promote amazing people, products and services.

If you haven’t yet heard of Periscope, I believe it’s the next big thing: livestream broadcasts all over the world. Think YouTube, but live and broadcasted to whoever wants to tap in. Add to that - while you’re filming, it’s wildly interactive. You can see who joins, who hearts, people can ask questions and you can answer them directly. Interactive live TV anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Yes!

500% Inspired.

Despite fifteen hours on my feet, lugging boxes, sore back, legs, and feet, making a solo late night run to FedEx to ship boxes back home, running out for a juice that I got food poisoning from and spending the evening throwing up into a trash can by my bed, I’ve bounced back with more fervor than ever, because I am so full of love and awe for what I saw happening at the Indie Beauty Expo.

I’m inspired by women who run their own businesses.

I’m inspired by bloggers who love so much and have such huge hearts.

I’m inspired by women and men working side-by-side, complementing each other’s unique skill sets and operating as equals.

I’m SO inspired by collaboration and inclusion. When women collaborate and work together, it exponentially expands the market, the profit, the demand, the benefit, the draw, the magnetism, the positive impact.

I’m inspired by my team at home who was working tirelessly while I was away, and by my NYC team who worked their butts off and went home exhausted.

The new paradigm is here!

It’s all about collaboration, authenticity, transparency, relationships, love, innovation, wild creativity, making it happen, embracing change, the hustle and exponential growth through community-building.

Whether you’re a solopreneur or a brand with a team, a blogger or a magazine editor, a spa director or a retailer … whether you focus on wellness, spa, healthy food, natural medicine, organic beauty or all of the above, keep doing what you’re doing.

You’re on the right path and the path is only widening.

Love + flower petals,

katie hess lotuswei flower alchemist

*Photo credits: 1-3 by Indie Beauty Expo, Photo 5 by Rachael of Oyl + Water, Photo 10 by Modern Minerals*