April 30, 2017


By Mary Zavaglia in LA

When I heard that Indie Beauty Expo was coming to Los Angeles, I was thrilled. I had the pleasure of attending and let me tell you it was a wonderful, eye opening experience.

The world of independent beauty is rapidly gaining popularity and it seems to be geared towards a “green” beauty movement. The show was the perfect aide in my own transition to “green” or environmentally friendly beauty with plenty of opportunities to try and buy new, under the radar products and learn about their brand’s philosophies. Jam packed with workshops, panel discussions, speakers, cocktails and good vibes the Indie Beauty Expo never provided me with a dull moment.

I learned that to be considered an “indie” product at least 50% of the company must be owned by those directly managing it. The products displayed were an eclectic mix of some better-known brands like Arrojo and Skin Inc Supplement Bar to complete newcomers Jolii Sense of Beauty and all natural men’s products from Kobe Bryant’s personal Groomer Guise Etiquette.

This was the show’s 2nd year, founded in 2015 by former spa owner and esthetician, Jillian Wright, with the desire to create a means for entrepreneurs to connect with press, buyers, and consumers. The show is a perfect snapshot of a sector that is continually driving trends. “Indie is being taken seriously now, not only by the press and buyers but also by the brands themselves. They are no longer wallflowers in a multi-billion-dollar industry. These indie brands are taking center stage,” says Jillian.

There is a method in Jillian’s process of selecting the brands for the expo that requires months of examination for product efficacy and market viability. She carefully looks for companies with a readiness to showcase, with a business plan, great website, social media presence and distribution or at least a solid distribution date.

A trend that I noticed as I was making my way from brand to brand that tied nicely into the “green” beauty theme was the incorporation of energetic and healing properties into the products. For example, the founder of Rutz Naturals, Steph Schuler, is a Reiki master and explained how she lovingly bestows healing, vibrational energy into each of her products. This made sense to me because today people are seeking beauty through healing and they want to experience something more than just another organic brand to slather on. They want something deeper that will help radiate their beauty from the inside out.

The body is more than just matter; it is energy-vital energy. It is called Prana in yoga and Ayurvedic medicine and chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The concept is an ancient one and is re-emerging. Deepak Chopra M.D. stated in his book, Grow Younger, Live Longer. “Your body is a field of energy, information, and intelligence… capable of perpetual healing, renewal and transformation.” So, it seems the right energetic skin care product and a knowledgeable practitioner/consultant can guide customers in optimising their products to balance their energy flow while reaping in the beauty benefits as well. Mindfulness about managing one’s own wellbeing – inner and outer beauty – is gradually growing.


Jolii - which has some excellent matte liquid lip sticks. The formula is moisture rich and the colour lasted all day. The main ingredients are jojoba and shea butter.

Another product that stood out for me was Luxe Botanic which is a luxurious skin care. The products feature organically grown ingredients such as Marula oil from Kenya, Camu Camu berry from Brazil, and Kigelia Africana from Malawi, all proven to naturally nourish, brighten and clarify the skin.

A mention that’s close to my heart: The Beauty Chef an Australian brand created by Carla Oates. Her philosophy is that the first step to healthy, radiant skin is having a balanced digestive system – good gut health. The organic products embrace a blend of natural fermented food products for inner and outer use.

There was even toothpaste being exhibited that I had to add to the list, Lebon Toothpaste - a luxury toothpaste made in France. Their fragrances are 100 percent natural and the flavours were remarkable. All their products are cruelty and paraben free.

And finally, Province Apotherapy was another inspiring product owing to its simple and organic ingredients. It was designed for those with sensitive skin and allergies to chemicals, only incorporating organic fruits, vegetables, oils and oats into their products.

All these products plus many more have excellent marketing resources through social media and websites but nothing beats being there, touching, feeling and experiencing the products themselves. There were retail giants attending the show such as Whole Foods and Sephora that are looking for the next best product line to bring on. Also, smaller, yet influential start-ups like Violet Grey and Detox Market attend to check out the line-up.

The expo proudly welcomed makeup artist and entrepreneur Bobbi Brown as one of the featured speakers this year. Bobbi inspired many young and eager entrepreneurs at the show with her personal story of starting up her cosmetic company and the global success it has led her to. “The indie movement is changing the face of the industry, and it is the brave entrepreneurs behind indie brands who are driving this change. I am delighted to share my experience with them and hopefully provide helpful perspective as they navigate through their own journey”, said Bobbi Brown. The founder Jillian Wright says “Bobbi has been an inspiration to so many of us as women, entrepreneurs or beauty professionals - in this industry”. It has since been confirmed that Bobbi is leaving her brand in the capable hands of 21-year-parent, Estée Lauder Companies and moving on to go back to her roots and create a new indie brand which no doubt will be inspired by organic ingredients, sustainable practices, potentially healing beauty…but that is just personal assumption.

There were over 230 brands exhibiting at the Indie Beauty Expo this year, displaying excellence in innovative beauty. It was a pure delight being there and getting to experience what the future of beauty will look like.

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