JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic completely disrupted our lives and businesses, including travel to industry events.
JAIME: Now that vaccinations have become more available and restrictions have eased, will beauty shows rebound to reunite our industry or fizzle due to lack of participation? Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: So a year ago, Jaime, we recorded an episode that we actually never released and it was about our top five things to do at beauty shows that don’t necessarily include shopping.
JAIME: As far as shopping goes over this last year that’s the only thing that I’ve done relative to the beauty industry and has been done online.
ASHLEY: And I haven’t even done that. So it’s interesting now that we’re being kind of thrust back into quote/unquote normality that we have to start thinking about what’s next and are we going to be together again at shows in the very near future?
JAIME: Well, I have missed you.
ASHLEY: I’ve missed you too. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been in the same place which was New York where this entire podcast and everything started.
JAIME: And it wasn’t quite accurate for me to say that that’s like the only thing I’ve done is like online shopping because there have been opportunities to educate, certainly through Outgrowth podcast. We feel like we’ve filled the void in terms of the kinds of educational topics we’d want to cover if we were teaching at beauty shows. But now that the reality is upon us that beauty shows are on the schedule, tickets are on sale, educators are thinking about what topics they want to present, it’s becoming real and I’m not sure I’m ready.
ASHLEY: I feel the same way. I think you put it perfectly. It’s starting to feel real again. And I feel like I’ve been in hibernation as far as focusing on the traditional aspects of our industry like going to a show, what will I wear? What will I pack and what will I teach? And now, I’m not sure if I’m ready to step back into that light again, at least not in the way that we have in the past. I’m looking forward to maybe what the evolution will be, because I don’t think it’s going to be business as usual. How about you?
JAIME: I don’t expect it to be business as usual at all, because that’s what’s been communicated to us thus far. The organizers who’ve reached out about educating have made it clear that they intend to follow through with much of the guidance that we’ve dealt with for the last year.
ASHLEY: Yes, I think it really depends on the show, but the transition window from complete quarantine, and social distancing, and masking, and all of the things that we’ve become so used to, I don’t think that there will be just a complete reversal anytime soon. How do we deal with that under the guise or under the construct of a beauty show? What does the floor look like? What do the classrooms look like? What will the guidelines and regulations be? How do we handle it when someone doesn’t want to do those things? Like these are very real questions that I think we each need to sit down with ourselves and answer to gauge our comfort level with being together again with other beauty professionals.
JAIME: I’m so grateful not to be a show organizer right now.
ASHLEY: They definitely have their work cut out for them, and I think if we each have that sort of reckoning moment with ourselves and determine like what’s our line personally, what’s our comfort level. That way we don’t have to do it at the show and potentially have conflict, or bad feelings, or potential issues. So maybe that’s something we all need to do before we even buy a ticket to another show.
JAIME: When the save the dates were announced and many of them were announced early last year, I thought to myself at a minimum I’m not traveling anywhere until after I’m vaccinated.
ASHLEY: The dates were announced, and then pushed back, and then pushed back again. And so it started to feel like this might never happen and so I thought, okay, I’m not going to deal with it until I have to. And now it looks like I’m actually considering booking airfare to some of these shows. And that’s a whole other gambit as far as being on an airplane and being in an airport. I know that there’s people listening who are rolling their eyes and saying, okay, I’ve been doing that for the past six months. But again, we’re all different and what we’re comfortable with is very different too.
JAIME: Booking airfare has been on my list of things to do for a couple of weeks now. And I’m holding off because I’m convinced that the shows will happen unless something drastic, really drastic happens, I’m just not sure of what my involvement will be. So for example, I don’t want to travel somewhere where I’m not involved in the education at the show. I’m not going to attend a show just as an attendee. I’m not that anxious to hang out with everyone that I would go just to walk the show floor because that wasn’t the highlight of my experiences in the past. Why would I want to do that again when I think that’s likely the place where I feel most uncomfortable? I always did before because it’s large crowds of people not really watching where they’re going, oftentimes dragging large rolling bags behind them, and it just wasn’t my idea of fun in the past.
ASHLEY: Well, we each made a list of the top five things that we thought were important to do at beauty shows. We recorded the episode a year ago, more than that actually, and looking over our lists, they definitely still apply, but I think each one of them has an asterisk next to it now. Like the number one thing that I think everyone should be doing at shows is networking and just reconnecting with contacts, putting in the face time, meeting up with the brands that you use, and talking to the people that you follow on social media, and all of those other things. But now I’m thinking like, okay, what is the mainstay of a beauty show? And that to me is hugs. You see someone only at shows. You haven’t seen them in a long time. Everybody always kind of reconnects and remeets with a hug, and I don’t think I’m comfortable with that. I don’t know how I would then signal that or indicate that to someone without making them feel uncomfortable. Like there’s, I think we even have to get down that granular to think about how am I going to address a situation like this? Do I wear a red wristband saying, please don’t hug me? Like how do we get to the point where there’s even protocol for something as simple as that?
JAIME: We need to recognize each other first, Ashley. We haven’t seen people in over a year and I’m expecting everyone will be wearing face masks. Name badges are going to be that much more important.
ASHLEY: Definitely, maybe instead of industry icon on the bottom of our badge, it’ll say, please don’t hug me.
JAIME: Keep your distance. If you’re close enough to read this, you’re too close.
ASHLEY: The other thing I liked doing at shows was trendspotting and I don’t think that we’re going to see much by way of product innovation or new trends kind of coming down the pike because we’re all so scattered, and scrambled, and have been over the past 13, 14 months that I just don’t see that happening at a traditional show.
JAIME: I think it would be really hard to get the attention of attendees if I were a manufacturer because I think so much of it is going to be more about who’s attending and connecting with individuals than necessarily connecting with brands.
ASHLEY: Definitely. I think the smart brands will be doing some type of back to basics, like let’s shake off the dust, and get back into it with a review of technique or a review of product line or something like that to really engage people, and bring them back into the fold.
JAIME: Well, you know, the idea of walking the show floor, I have to say I enjoy doing that, but only when it wasn’t crowded. So I would try to do it even before the main show opened because as an educator, if we have access to the show floor as if we were an exhibitor, I’d want to just walk the show floor just to see how the booths were designed and what product might be out, but not because I wanted to mingle with a bunch of people or necessarily shop. So just to see the show floor to get a feel for what’s being exhibited and how it’s being presented. And then second on my list was introducing yourself to someone you admire, but that goes back to your idea, not that you’d necessarily hug someone upon first meeting, but just the idea of even approaching someone you don’t know. How do you approach? You don’t know this person’s perspective on things. You’d have to, I think, be even more respectful than you would be under normal circumstances.
ASHLEY: And I agree with you. I had listed study the show guide as a way to kind of prepare yourself for the show and not really waste any time in being overwhelmed. I think we have to come to terms with the fact that these show floors are going to be smaller than they were just based on number of vendors that will be there, number of exhibitors. It’s been a tough year for them too. Trade shows are a big expense, especially if you exhibit at them, and we have to really be resilient as an industry to not get discouraged by that. You know, side note, you and I being in nails have seen this downtrend of nail exhibitors at different shows for years and now that I think we’re going to be seeing that on the hair and skin side as well, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction is and the feedback that the shows are getting. I think there’s going to be this really big excitement with being back together again, feeling like we are finally back to normal, but couched with this kind of disappointment of like, oh, it’s not exactly as I expected it, or it’s not exactly like it used to be.
JAIME: If we see smaller show floors and increased distancing between booths, then we know that the participation is much lower.
ASHLEY: Yes and I think that’ll just shine a bigger spotlight on education. Because if you go to a show, yes, there’s the fun part of shopping, and walking the floor, and feeling the energy, and having your ears totally blown out by the loud music, but this way, I think there’s going to be a, just a bigger focus on what’s actually happening in the classrooms because that’s really where the action is going to be.
JAIME: One of my suggestions was to attend a class outside your specialty, and I’ve met some wonderful people and been exposed to information that I wouldn’t have otherwise by doing just that. But I’m not so sure that I’m going to be spending any additional time at a venue where there are large amounts of people beyond what my obligation is to the show to teach a class.
ASHLEY: Absolutely, plus there may be capacity restrictions based on social distancing and the number of chairs might be at a premium. So attending a class outside of your specialty may actually be taking a spot away from someone in that specialty to be able to attend it. And so that’s kind of another thing that flies out the window of being exposed to a different part of our industry. I do think this year we will be seeing moving forward more of a focus on safety and protocol advocacy, all of the things that were decidedly unsexy topics in years past. So, hey, we are going to fill some classrooms this year, Jaime.
JAIME: Oh, it’s about time. No, not that we haven’t before, but about the things that we get excited about, because I know one of your passions is social media, and I still reflect on the class that you had at Premiere Orlando where I was ridiculously acting as your security guard at the back of the room, trying to keep the, the room from violating any sort of fire code, because there were far too many people in that room. But when I think is going to happen this time, I think we’ll see much more involvement of show staff in the classrooms because they’re going to want to avoid those issues. They’re not going to want to put the burden on the educator to enforce those kinds of restrictions on capacity or people’s behavior. And I’ve also been told that at least for one of the shows that I’m contemplating that there will be sanitation happening between classes.
ASHLEY: Oh, wow. Yes. I, I wholeheartedly hope that that is what will happen. I mean that was definitely a career highlight where we had people who couldn’t even get into the classroom because they wanted to take this social media class with me and it gives me warm, fuzzy feelings every time I think about it. But it’s not something that we’ll see moving forward unless we’ll have to maybe shift our paradigm as educators a little bit, and maybe get used to playing bigger rooms where we can be more spread out. And then that puts the onus on us as educators not to be policing the people in the room as far as social distancing, and mask use, and all of that. But it will put more of a burden on us to play to larger rooms. That’s a whole level of energy that is something a lot of us aren’t used to. If you’re going to play to a 50-seat classroom versus teaching a class to a room that can fit 5,000 people, that’s, it completely changes how you present the material, whether it changes how you present it audio visually or how you physically move around the room? Like it’s going to be different and I think the most adaptable educators are going to be the ones that are going to have a ton of success this year in just making people feel comfortable, but also understanding that it’s very serious and we have to take it seriously.
JAIME: Just having this conversation may raise some anxiety in individuals who feel like this is more than they can manage in terms of the crowd size potentially and just the scope of these events. So I know for some people they think, well, I would much rather go to a smaller event where it’s more intimate, but I think that can go too far. So for example, I will not be attending nor have I recently, any event that’s all inclusive where you literally spend every moment, including where you sleep, with fellow attendees.
JAIME: I will not be doing that. I like having my distance. I like having options. I like being able to spend my time where I choose and choose who I spend my time with.
ASHLEY: I agree. Those shows exist because there are lots of different attendees who have different styles and what they want out of a show. I, like you, prefer to go to the larger shows that give me the flexibility of having just a little bit of downtime too. I think that’s important for us as educators to have just a little bit of time where no one is talking to us. We’re not in a loud place with the show floor, and we could just kind of decompress, and get our energy up to really teach the best class possible. For attendees, I think that it’s also important to have a place to sit for a minute and not have areas of the convention center restricted because of, you know, needing to sanitize them or whatever. I think if we get corralled into a space in the interest of keeping us and our exposure level into one part of the place, it’s just going to feel really claustrophobic. So,hopefully, shows take that into account as well.
JAIME: Or even attending an event that’s in a remote place, but then you have individuals coming from all across the country to spend 48 or 72 hours together, 24/7 to me is not my idea of what safety looks like, because in that case I would feel trapped.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I feel like a show is an experience, but I want to be in the driver’s seat of what my experience will be. I don’t want to have my weekend kind of metered out for me. And I think we’re going to see a real uptick in the amount of single day attendees versus someone who buys, you know, the full 3-day package just to maybe kind of dip their toes in the show water again, and have the, the freedom and ability to say, you know what? I’m not ready. I’m just going to make this minimal investment as far as tickets go and also as a safeguard against the show being canceled. We’ve seen some shows, unfortunately, say, hey, we’re canceling. We’re going to roll your ticket over to next year. And I think there might be some hesitance to pay for a 3-day show when you’re not sure if it’s actually gonna happen.
JAIME: Some of the shows have actually scaled back. Some of the 3-day shows are now 2-day shows.
ASHLEY: True. So that’s a whole other can of worms too, because what we’ve done in the past, as far as having a full day of education without the show floor now means our attention is going to be divided as attendees and how do you, how do you make that work? But there will be exceptions to the rule, of course. There are people who are going strictly to shop, who are there to competitive shop, and find new product lines, and maybe take advantage of some discounts, and things like that. But, I think the most important thing that I have on my list that applied a year ago and will apply for the next many years, is giving feedback to the show. One of the things you say at the end of your classes, Jaime, that’s so important is if you like what I did here today, please tell the show. I’ve been very fortunate to receive some great feedback about my classes and they’ve come in the form of an Instagram comment, or a DM, or an email, which is amazing and I love having those testimonials. But I’ve also received that feedback at shows that have not had me back as an educator. And so it’s really important that whatever experience you have at the show, most of us would say, okay, if I had a negative experience, I’m going to tell the show. But it is just as, if not more important,
if you have a positive experience at a show, you share that as well.
JAIME: I could not agree more particularly when we don’t have a way of measuring. We get students into the classroom, but once they leave, we’re not necessarily that convinced as to what impact we may have had. And sometimes we feel that feedback immediately. We might have someone approach us after the class right away, but again, that’s not the same as reinforcing the value of our content to the overall show itself and that can only be done if you connect with the show organizers after the show.
ASHLEY: And the whole run-up at the end of the class thing may not happen or be able to happen moving forward. So I would encourage anyone who attends a show that has a good experience, whether it be with an educator or a brand, the layout of the show, whatever, the show wants that feedback for sure. And educators want the feedback on what they’re teaching because we want to make sure that what we’re standing up in front of a room for 90 minutes talking about is relevant to every beauty professionals interests, but also something that’s going to resonate with that geographic location year after year, that discipline, whatever it might be. So please, if you have feedback, give it to the show. It’s incredibly important because as you’ve seen, Jaime, knowing things and seeing how things work behind the scenes, that feedback is taken to heart and creates changes within the show as far as how things are structured, what people want, back by popular demand, or what things get eliminated.
JAIME: So few attendees provide feedback that those who do have an out-sized impact.
ASHLEY: Sure. Definitely. Now I’m wondering how you, as someone who has participated in a virtual event this year, how that compares to something in person.
JAIME: So participating in a virtual event is like not being there to me. It’s very disconcerting in that I’m being represented. I’ve submitted a class that I’ve recorded in advance, but I’m not there to gauge how it’s received, or answer any questions, or anything like that. So it’s like I didn’t really participate at all unless I get some feedback from someone who’s watched the video who may send me an email afterwards.
ASHLEY: Well, and we’re seeing because of virtual events, and hybrid events, and the way shows are trying to be creative because of the ever-shifting landscape when it comes to COVID-19 and the beauty industry, we’re seeing a shortened window of a show being announced, educators being announced, programs, all of those sorts of things. They’re still pretty up in the air even for events that are just a few months away. And I think that’s why it’s important to have that conversation with yourself now about what’s your comfort level for all aspects of attending a show because you’ll have to make the decision relatively quickly once things are announced.
JAIME: All of those things are going to factor into my enjoyment of the event. I’ve always liked going to beauty shows as a break from my daily salon routine, which we know, based on my schedule, is not daily. I’m not in the salon every day, but now I have to ask myself, am I looking forward to going or am I kind of dreading it?
ASHLEY: And I think that is the perfect microcosm of what we all have to determine for probably the next 8 to 12 months. It’s going to be all about adaptability and managed expectations, and understanding that it’s not going to be exactly the same as it was every other year prior, and it’s what we do with that opportunity to make it something really great that will affect how shows are run in the future. So I’m looking forward to the next show that I go to. I’m not exactly sure which one that will be yet, but I am looking forward to getting back together with everybody and having one of our famous steakhouse dinners after the show.
JAIME: That was going to be one of my ending comments. That based on the fact that I have cooked almost every day of the pandemic, I am so looking forward to a wonderful meal out, and conversation with dear friends, and if it means traveling to a beauty show to have that experience, then it will all be worth it.
ASHLEY: Definitely. All right. Well, I think we have tied a nice bow around this. Of course, we’re open to your feedback. We’d love to hear, are you excited about going to your next beauty show and what will that look like for you? Feel free to connect with us on Instagram, where you can comment on recent episodes at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: All right. Well, until the next show and until next week, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.