Talking With Jillian Wright, Indie Beauty Expo’s Co-Founder

Jillian Wright is the kind of fairy godmother clean beauty brand entrepreneurs needed. The idea for the Indie Beauty Expo was born out of necessity and came into fruition in order to fill a gap in the beauty industry. The expo has made its debut in 2015 and has shown no signs of slowing down. As the Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Media Group (Nader Naeymi-Rad is the other half of the business), Jillian is doing more for indie brands than just the once a year expo presentation. IBMG produces the BeautyXSummit, an education platform, and is the publisher of Beauty Independent, bringing you top headlines in beauty.

Most recently, Indie Beauty Expo has become an inclusive fanfare, launching “Uplink Live”. The expansion bridges brands with solutions, especially while they are not ready to exhibit. Entrepreneurs will have the ability to connect with the right people, vendors and start a new learning experience. Launching during New York’s expo, the impact will be greater than ever.

“IBMG does a great job connecting the next generation of beauty leaders with the resources they need to successfully launch their products.” – Jillian Wright

Keep reading for Q & A and Jillian Wright‘s personal skincare routine.

How was the idea of the Indie Beauty Expo born?

At the time the idea was born, (in 2014) I had developed my own eponymous luxury skincare line, but I was incredibly frustrated with the very limited options available for me to grow and scale my business.

Independent brands were represented in such a small way, no one was really focusing on these brands or developing an event that was really for beauty entrepreneurs. This was an unmet need that my co-founder and I believed had to be addressed.

I was looking for a place that supported a community of brands like mine, brands that were independently-owned, well made, had passionate employees and had a story to tell.

We believed these brands, brands like mine, deserved to have their own show; a show designed in a way that was accessible to emerging brands, but also produced with a quality that would attract the industry’s top buyers, press, media, influencers and investors.

Over time the expo has gotten larger and gained a cult following. How do you recommend visitors navigate the expo so they can get the most out of it?  

I would suggest keeping up with us on social media and subscribing to our emails.  Now with Beauty Independent, BeautyX Summits and Indie Beauty Expos, there are several ways to engage and keep up with indie beauty as a movement.  The brands exhibiting with us are partnering with top retailers and small local shops on a daily basis and we inform our community through these channels.

What standards are used for those looking to exhibit?

First and foremost, you must be independently owned, meaning 50% or more owned by people who directly operate the organization. That doesn’t mean that the company cannot have outside investors, minority investors, people who provide funding and other resources, but the controlling ownership, must be with people who are very much committed to running the organization. A brand also needs to be commercially viable and ready to scale.

Why do you think it is so important to help independent clean brands grow and thrive in today’s beauty market?

Smaller independent brands focus on niches that are either too small or too risky for the very large and very profitable companies like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, etc, to approach. Simply put, small, emerging brands are willing and able to take risks and innovate faster, they don’t have to deal with all of the “red tape” that comes with being part of a large corporation. I have always wanted to get better made beauty into the hands of many and helping these brands grow and scale is a way we have been able to do that.

These brands benefit from the fact that there has been a shift in the way consumers make their purchasing decisions. More and more customers have been asking about the ingredients that are in their products, whether it’s because they want more organic products or specific ingredients, such as CBD, or just more transparency about where their products come from and how they are made.  

What continues to inspire you about the expo and the educational/networking summits and how do you strive to make them relevant in this fast growing industry?

The brands make the expo exciting.  New beauty is coming on the scene each and every show so no two shows are ever the same.  We are a breeding ground for emerging brands and we support them through our educational and networking summits.  I’m fueled by their energy and their commitment to entrepreneurship and becoming successful. It’s not easy to succeed in this business and you have to be a certain kind of person to go through the trials and tribulations of owning a business and continue on each day.

We are constantly doing our homework and talking to brand founders and other entrepreneurs in the beauty industry to make sure we are discussing the most interesting topics at our summits and answering the questions that are the most important to beauty entrepreneurs. We are so lucky to have been able to call on some of the industry’s most respected names, like Sephora’s Artemis Patrick, Linda Wells and Frédéric Fekkai. With three summits a year, a dedicated thought leadership team and insights from our digital publication Beauty Independent we are constantly evolving and tweaking the curriculum of our summits to be in line with what is the most relevant.

I know you were a clinical aesthetician for many years. What products do you use in your personal routine and can you share any of your beauty secrets?

I never skip my am and pm routine.  I wash my face twice a day, wear eye cream, a serum and moisturizer and SPF.  At night I simplify it with just an eye cream and moisturizer. I exfoliate two times a week. I’m alternating between the Restorsea cleanser and the Vu Skin Cleanser.  It depends if I’m washing my face in the shower or sink. I also love the Restorsea hand cream from their pro line. For my eye cream, retinol serum and moisturizers, I’m using the Vu Skin System which is an affordable brand that works really well.  I always wake up with a glow! I will use this until it is empty. Right now, I’m crushing on Saint Jane lip balm. The colors are gorgeous and the staying power is epic for a gloss. It doesn’t melt. I’m a beauty junkie and try many of the indie brands. My go to foundation is Au Naturale Cosmetics.  It works very well with all skincare lines and it feels like an extension of my skincare routine. It is creamy and hydrating and looks natural. If I need more coverage, Saint Cosmetics is amazing. What can I say, I’m a serial beauty product tester!

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