My Personal Experience at Cosmoprof North America
Many of my recent posts have summarized some of the cool things that I learned about while attending Cosmoprof North America. A few friends expressed interest in hearing about my personal experiences at the show, and I also want to document some of this information for myself so that I don’t forget the lessons that I learned this year… because I plan on going again!
If you don’t know what Cosmoprof North America is, it’s a business-to-business beauty trade show that’s held at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas every July. This event is for beauty professionals and to attend you must be a licensed tech, business owner, manufacturer, distributor or a member of the press. As blogger, I was fortunate to be able to attend as a member of the press. Bloggers and other media can apply for a press pass through the Cosmoprof NA website a couple of months prior to the event. I received notice that I was approved about a month before the show. Woo hoo!
This was my first time attending the event, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. In the 2 months prior, I admittedly spent a LOT of time thinking (worrying) about what to wear and how to do my nails, how to interact with the brands, what questions to ask, etc, etc. Thankfully I received guidance from some of the more experienced bloggers who have attended before. Krystal from Polish Galore was so incredibly helpful and patient! I seriously don’t know how I would have managed without her help.
What I Wore
The advice that I received was to dress business casual (no jeans, flip flops or tennis shoes), and to wear comfy shoes. I worked in a corporate setting for many years so I own lots of business casual clothes (mostly pants and dressy tops), but I opted not to wear any of them! LOL I’m bored with the corporate look, so I went slightly more casual with some summery dresses and flat shoes for my show attire. I think it worked out OK… I didn’t feel under dressed.
On the first day of the show, I wore a summery dress with a geometric pattern from Francesca’s Boutique (this style – different pattern). This is the dress that inspired my manicure for the trip, and is also the color inspiration for the other outfits that I wore. I’m not a fashionista, so this may be a bit too matchy-matchy (as Heidi Klum would say). My dress was a minty-teal blue with dark blue, orange, pink and white geometric patterns. Blue has sort of been my color of the summer, ever since I saw Gelish Mali-Blu Me Away, so I wanted to stick with that shade as my accent. I purchased a pair of blue Mel by Melissa Mary Jane flat shoes on Amazon, and I picked up this blue Nine West bag at Overstock.com (the blue is a little brighter in person). The shoes are lightweight, jelly-like shoes and were super comfy. I wore these for 2 days… the only downside to them is that they don’t have any support.
I took very few photos that first day at the show (shame on me!), but here’s a goofy picture that Katy from Nailed It took of us in the press room!
And here is the nail art that I did for the show. I wanted to highlight some of my different skills, so I used several different techniques to create this look. Learn more about my nails here.
I also brought several cocktail dresses and heels for my evening/party attire. The very first night, I wore a little black dress and a pair of very high heels… and that was the last time that I wore heels the whole trip. Very bad idea! I could barely walk after taking my shoes off, and my hips and lower back hurt the entire rest of the trip. First lesson… leave the heels at home and wear comfy shoes!
Where I Stayed
I opted to stay at the Luxor since it’s more affordable (about half the price of Mandalay Bay), and is fairly close. I didn’t know any of the other bloggers personally prior to the show, so I roomed by myself. I was also hoping that my boyfriend would come for part of the trip and that we could make a little vacation out of it, but that didn’t work out. It was just as well because I wouldn’t have had very much time to spend with him. I was at the show all day, attended parties in the evenings… and then crashed from exhaustion as soon as I got to my room at the end of the day.
I arrived very early on Saturday and decided to walk over to Mandalay Bay so that I could find my way around, and pick up my press pass. It ended up being about a mile walk (15 minutes) from my hotel room to the trade show floor, and I did that walk 2-3 times a day on top of all of the walking on the trade show floor. So I did a LOT of walking over the course of 4 days. There is a tram that runs from Luxor to Mandalay Bay, but that really didn’t eliminate much walking and I found it faster to just walk over to Mandalay by going through the shops. So that was another lesson learned… next year I will stay at Mandalay Bay or THE Hotel at Mandalay. THE Hotel is the closest, so that’s what I’ll aim for. Hopefully I can find a roommate to help with the expense.
In the Press Room & Blogger Interaction
My first stop every morning was the press room. This room had couches and tables where the press members could sit and work or converse. Breakfast and lunch were served every day at 9-9:30am and noon, and I have to say that I was impressed by the spread. Breakfast usually consisted of pastries, donuts, fresh fruit and beverages (coffee, tea, juice, soda, water, etc). Lunch was a full buffet and the food was delicious. I would go to the press room in the morning, grab a bite to eat and come up with my game plan for the day. I also stopped back a few times throughout the day if I needed to rest my feet, do some social media updates, or organize my thoughts.
One of the things that I loved most about the press room was interacting with the other bloggers. I have to admit that before the show I worried whether there would be any competitiveness or girl drama, but those worries quickly washed away once I met the other ladies. Everyone was extremely friendly, accepting and helpful! I did a little internal fangirling as I met some of my favorite bloggers… OMG, they are real people just like me! I have only met a few bloggers in person before, so it was really awesome to meet so many like-minded people in one place.
Above is a picture of a few of us in the press room. I met and bonded with many bloggers while at the show including (but certainly not limited to) Katy from Nailed It, Leslie from Work / Play / Polish, Sarah from Chalkboard Nails, Judy from Beauty Judy, Krystal from Polish Galore, Hannah from The Dalai Lama’s Nails, Claudia from Chromatic Misadventures, and Katherine from Manicure Addict.
Katy and I hung out together quite a bit and she actually spent the day with me on the 15th, which was MY BIRTHDAY! It was the last day of the show, which ended at 2pm. Katy and I changed into our bathing suits and headed to “The Beach” (the pool) at Mandalay Bay for the afternoon. We hung out there for several hours, drinking cocktails, talking and people watching. Then we caught a cab and went to In-N-Out Burger for dinner! Oh, and we did a little gambling. I lost all of my money, as usual… but Katy got an awesome hand at the Blackjack table where she split 7’s four times and won!!
On the Trade Show Floor
The Mandalay Bay convention center is HUGE and there were over 900 exhibitors with booths at the show. It was very overwhelming as a newbie. Luckily there was a numbering system on the floor, printed maps, and an awesome interactive phone app that helped with navigating the floor and finding the booths. (View the floor map here). My game plan going into this was to just focus on the brands with gel polish lines first, and if I had time afterwards I would venture out and explore other areas. I’m actually very lucky that my focus is so narrow because I can’t imagine how a general beauty blogger would begin to prioritize their visits.
I did reach out to a few brands ahead of time to request meetings, which turned out to be a very wise thing. Next year I will schedule more appointments like that. I could walk into most booths and browse and ask questions, but there were no guarantees. There were also a couple of larger booths that you couldn’t enter without an appointment (OPI & CND for example). So making appointments just ensures that you get some one-on-one time with a representative.
I apologize that I don’t have any pictures of the actual floor… I wasn’t sure if it was allowed. Only members of the press are allowed to take photos, and you have to ask first. Some of the products and information that’s disclosed at the show is embargoed, which means that it can’t be released until a certain date. So you also have to ask if and when the photos or info can be released. In one case, I was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
I have to admit that on the first day, I didn’t take many photos and didn’t take good enough notes. I did improve some over the next couple of days, but next year I will try to be much more diligent and organized. I also didn’t have a prepared list of questions and just kind of went with the flow, letting the brands guide me and dictate what they wanted to share. I began to learn how to better interview and interact as time went on and I know that I will be much more prepared next time.
I had several awesome meetings with gel polish companies, but my favorite visit was at the Hand and Nail Harmony (Gelish) booth. You all know that I’m one of the biggest Gelish fans, so this visit made my day. I got to see all of the new collections that are coming up all the way through next Spring (sorry, can’t share much of that yet!), and I even met the founder Danny Haile. I was totally kicking myself afterward for not asking to take a photo with him. The other thing that I found really cool was that they already knew about me and my blog! With this being my first time at the show, I didn’t really expect anyone to know who I am, but several of the brands that I met with were already familiar with Chickettes. Yay!
I also had the privilege of attending several parties. Saturday night I attended the Get Together Party that was organized for all Cosmoprof attendees and exhibitors. Anyone that had a ticket, press pass or booth could go to this event. It was a meet & greet party with beverages and food. This was where I first met many of the other bloggers. I spent all day Saturday alone, walking around and at the pool and then I got dressed up and headed over to this event by myself. I hoped and prayed that I would see someone that I recognize! After about 20 minutes I spotted a whole group of bloggers congregated in one area and made my way over there for introductions. I found my blogger pack! We ate and mingled for a short while, and then headed off to another party.
The next event was the Shine & Social Party at PRESS lounge at the Four Seasons. This party was hosted by SuperChic Lacquer and was attended by many bloggers, indie polish makers and a few people from NAILS Magazine! We had a nice time mingling and drinking wine. Below is a group picture that was taken my NAILS Magazine at the end of the evening. I’m the 5th from the left in the black dress in the center.
Sunday evening I also attended two parties. The first was the Sparkle & Wine party which was hosted by Crystal Rose of KBShimmer and Pam Heil of Girly Bits Cosmetics. I met and mingled with lots of amazing indie polish makers at this party. They each had displays setup featuring items from their product lines. I love indie polishes because the color and glitter combinations that they come up with are so darn unique! It was really cool to see all of their wonderful creations. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t take many photos at this party. You can see pictures and find some more info about these indie events at Work / Play / Polish and The Dalai Lama’s Nails. Also, the goodie bag of indie samples that I took home was also absolutely amazing! I can’t wait to feature some of these beauties on my blog.
Afterwards, I headed over to the Margaritas & Manicures party which was hosted by Katie Corzola of The Painted Nail, and sponsored by Nail It! and NAILPRO Magazines. This was another great opportunity to mingle with some amazing people! We also learned about some new products that The Painted Nail is coming out with, including swatch strips… clear peel-off strips that you can apply to your nail and paint over. When you’re ready to change your polish, you just peel it off! These will be great for swatching colors.
Below is a picture of some of the bloggers that attended this party. In in the back row, third from the left.
Summary & Tips
This post ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated, but thank you if you stuck through it all. Overall, my Cosmoprof experience was absolutely amazing! I loved every second of it and am so grateful for the experience and to have made so many awesome connections with bloggers and brands. I was on information overload, and since I’ve been home I’ve been trying to organize all of the information that I gathered so that I can share it all with you. I’ve already written a few summary posts, but I also have a lot of new products to review which will take some time yet.
I hope you enjoyed a look into my personal experience. If you’re a blogger and are considering going, I highly recommend it. Over the course of my trip, I carried a notebook with me. One of the pages in my notebook was a list of things that I wanted to remember for my next trip. This is the actual list that I wrote for myself:
- Wear comfy flats with very cushioned/supportive soles! No heels!!
- Bring Ibuprofin. (oh my aching hips and back!)
- Bring a bag/suitcase on wheels to carry brochures and samples.
- Stay at Mandalay Bay or THE Hotel.
- Bring an extra suitcase, bubble wrap, and gallon baggies to pack up samples for the trip home.
- Only bring 50-100 media kits. (I brought way too many)
- Prepare a list of questions and take better notes!
- Take more pictures!!
- Schedule meetings with brands in advance of the show.
Some other tips for bloggers attending with a press pass:
- Bring lots of business cards, you will be handing them to just about everyone you meet.
- Print copies of your media kit to give to the brands/exhibitors.
- Take advantage of the free meals in the press room (breakfast is at 9:30, and lunch is at noon). Everything in Las Vegas is expensive, and I paid $5.50 for a bottle of water!