Over the weekend I attended the first Beautiful You Expo, held at the Melbourne Exhibition Building in Carlton.
I’ve been looking forward to this event for several months, and despite a lack of information until about a week before hand, took a chance on buying a VIP ticket. From my past experience with events, I find the first year they run is the best! The show is the best quality (lots of free samples!) and the numbers are lower as not as many people know about. Sadly with the Taste of Melbourne show, every year the numbers of attendees have increased while the quality of the show has decreased. But I digress.
Attending an event at the Exhibition Building is always a treat just because the building is so fantastic. I hit the expo with a schedule and a mission. Stop 1: book in my massage for later in the day. Stop 2: VIP lounge for free bubbly. And here are the first poured of the day.
As a VIP we were entitled to unlimited bubbly all day, but I didn’t actually have much of it as I was so busy running around the expo I didn’t spend all that much time in the lounge. I was surprised by how quiet it was in there. When I walked in at about 10:20, the desk at the front of the lounge was unattended and there was not a single guest inside, just some bartenders and the girls doing gel nails who all stared at me like I was an alien who wasn’t meant to be there. I was a little surprised they weren’t set up and ready to go. I kind of slinked back outside and waited for someone who might know what was going on so I could book in to get my nails done later. As it turned out, I didn’t need to have bothered as it was so quiet in there all day.
I’m going to start by reviewing the VIP experience and then move onto the show itself. All in all, I don’t really think it was worth it. The VIP day pass cost $119 (that’s after 20% off, it was originally $159) and included access to the lounge, free cloakroom, goodie bag (see below), unlimited champagne, free Solerno cocktail, free gel nail application, and canapes throughout the day. It also included a free 1 year beauty club membership valued at $35 (I have yet to receive this, apparently we will receive a code to activate it after the event but staff on the day seemed confused and unsure about how this will work). So when standard discounted entry was around $21, if you count the Beauty Club membership at RRP essentially you are paying about $70 more for the VIP experience.
Access to the lounge – not really necessary as you are so busy running around trying to see everything we didn’t spend much time there.
Free drinks – same as above. I had maybe 2 glasses of bubbly, a cocktail and a bottle of water, but I could have done without the drinks as it wasn’t really a relaxing day.
Free gel nails by Jacqueline Burchall – a nice idea, and there was a gorgeous range of colours to choose from – I’d definitely recommend salons stocking this brand! Sadly, the technicians were volunteer beauty students and they didn’t do a very good job. Both my friend and I found that the girls who did our applications (different girls) did not go right to the edge, application of colour was uneven from one nail to the next, and in my case they left one hand sticky and I had to go back later and get it touched up by one of the JB representatives. I have weak nails so for me, gel application is something I wouldn’t do very often as getting my nails buffed before application will weaken them for a long time. As such I’m disappointed I didn’t get an application that I’m happy with and will last me a few weeks. When I take them off I know I’ll spend weeks repairing the damage so I really wanted to love the result. Yes, it was ‘free’, but sadly I wish I hadn’t done it.
Free canapes – biscotti in the morning, sushi and finger sandwiches at lunch, cheese and petit fours in the afternoon. The food was lovely, however, we didn’t get much of it. And not because it was busy. Whenever I stopped by the lounge at the posted food-service times and took a seat with a drink to reorganise my bag and work out what I was going to see next (shows and stalls), waitresses would pass by with trays of food and offer me one. And then they’d disappear. There weren’t many people in the lounge so it’s not that all the food got eaten. It just got brought out, offered, and then disappeared into the back room again. At lunch time I sat there for a good 30-40 minutes and got 1 finger sandwich and two small rounds of sushi. I’d kind of bargained on lunch being included for my rather hefty ticket price so I was a bit disappointed when I rushed off to see the next talk. Having been busy the time got away from me and at about 2:30, having barely eaten, I nearly blacked out and had to rush to the cafe to get some hot chips (quickest thing I could get my hands on). In the afternoon they brought out two large platters of cheese, placed it on the table I was sitting at for about 15 minutes, then took it away and left it with the people at the next table for a good hour or more rather than moving it and bringing it back. It would have worked better if they’d had a buffet table set up, I think, so people could help themselves rather than the apparently disorganised canape-service style they tried to have going. The cakes were lovely though and I’d love to know where they got them from, which was also a missed advertising opportunity for the caterer.
Goodie bag- a nice idea, but poorly thought out. The goodie bag included a bra and a tshirt, both my friend and I got nowhere near the correct size. Also the liquid items (can of drink, hair illuminiser, and travel shampoo/conditioner) as well as 1 or 2 magazines (can’t remember what was in the bag and what I picked up elsewhere, all freebies of the day in photo below but some were from separate events/stalls) made the bag really heavy and after a few hours of carrying it around my arm was going numb. Might have been better to give a coupon on arrival for collection of the goodie bag on the way out, also (particularly for the bras) perhaps a first-in-best-dressed set up where you could try and actually pick your relevant size from a selection? Not sure, but ultimately a bit pointless to give people a bra in a random size that most likely won’t fit them.
All in all – did I benefit from the extra $70 spent? Probably not. I ended up buying extra food anyway because they didn’t provide enough, had a couple of drinks I didn’t really want, and received a goodie bag with 2 major items that didn’t fit. The event itself was great but I’d say go for a standard ticket.
Now on to more positive stuff! I discovered some really great new brands at this event! Many of the stalls were giving out samples and goodies as well as running competitions (sadly don’t seem to have won any) and most of them had promotions offering a discount on their products.
You could easily spend a whole day just wandering around looking at stalls, and on top of that there was a whole range of different talks running at the 4 stages across the day. If you want a more relaxed experience, I’d say buying a weekend rather than single day pass is a must. I bought a single day and I was running around like crazy for 8 hours straight trying to see everything. It was a BIG expo. I felt a bit sorry for many of the speakers as the seats in front of the stages were more than half empty for many of the presentations. Some even got cancelled as no one was there to watch them. I’m sure this wasn’t due to lack of interest but just the size of the expo. I missed a few I’d intended to watch just because I got caught up talking to a stall holder or looking at something else.
I can’t summarise every stall, so I’ll make a list of my personal standouts:
Besame – WOW. What amazing cosmetics. Based off vintage colours this art-deco glamm inspired brand has about 10 shades of red lipstick. Everything is packaged beautifully in gold and rose gold toned metal tins and tubes with red lacquer designs. It’s the sort of thing that just makes you feel special when you use it. I bought Red Hot Red (apparently the exact shade Marilyn Monroe wore) and a beautiful metal powder compact with violet brightening powder. I have no idea when I’ll actually use it but it’s exquisite. Each item comes in a little red velvet pouch to protect it from getting scratched in your bag. See photo below.
Tara Wolf – lovely jewellery with spiritual overtones (chakra inspired bracelet designs, etc). They had their new locket range there which I LOVED the concept of – each locket is made of two pieces of crystal encased in a silver or gold vermaille circle. They look a bit like monocles or little magnifying glasses, although they come in a heart shape as well. The locket opens and you can put little charms inside it, that move around freely. Charms are very reasonably priced though the locket itself is a bit pricey for costume jewellery. They also come in possibly the most divine gift box I’ve ever seen. Definitely a great present for someone special or to commemorate a special moment in your life.
Silk Oil of Morocco – I didn’t need any of their beauty products but I got a 15 piece vegan brush set in folding wallet for $79. They seem to be good quality so this is a great price (normally sells around $120, I think). I’ve been wanting new brushes for a while so this was one of my key buys of the day.
Flash Tat (not pictured). I’ve heard a bit about flash tatts recently so I was kind of excited they had a stall there and were giving free trials. The girl applied a gold feather on the inside of my forearm and apparently they last 5-7 days, unfortunately mine has already half worn off after 2 days. Considering the price they sell for that’s a bit disappointing for me but the ones on their collarbones etc with little movement seemed to be wearing pretty well. Not that I think of the inside of the forearm as an area where the skin moves around a lot, but it is in contact with my sleeve. Definitely a summer item, don’t think it would last long at the beach though with the sand etc.
Ambiance coloured dry shampoo – another item I’ve been planning to buy for a while as I have dark hair and hate looking like I have dandruff when I use normal dry shampoo. Unfortunately I think I got a bit ripped off on this item. They had it ‘on sale’ for $59.90 for an applicator brush and one refill. I just bought it because I wanted it and wasn’t really thinking but when I got home and double checked the price on iHerb I don’t think I was better off. Yes, I’d have to pay shipping with iHerb, but depending what else I ordered with it I think that might have worked out better. Oh well.
Advanced Natural Beauty Spa – an Australian salon that makes their own skin care. Not shown below as they are shipping it to me since they were cash only on the day. I’ve ordered the resurfacing masque, to try and eliminate some minor imperfections on my face that exfoliating doesn’t seem to fix. You’re meant to leave it on for 20-30 minutes. I noticed a distinct difference on the skin on my hand from a trial patch I left on for only about 5 minutes, so I’m really excited to get this product and try it. It’s expensive (RRP $145 a jar, that will last several months) but still a lot cheaper than going for regular treatments in a salon. They were running a competition that I’d have love to have won… I wonder who did win it?9 Tribes – I have yet to buy this product but I think within a few months, it will be my standout favourite. 9 Tribes has tailored 9 series of skin care for different skin types (e.g. fair caucasian, sensitive asian, african heritage) and from what I can see, it works. Despite being half asian the lady manning the stall had no issue quickly defining my skin as having ‘more caucasian tendencies’ due to my lack of sensitivity and underlying pink tones. My friend and I tried both Caucasian ranges: Liya for fair and dry skin for her, and Ero for medium normal-combination skin for me. The body scrubs were very different, the Liya had larger but softer particles, and there was a noticeable difference in the moisturisers too. The Liya, for drier skin, was much richer and absorbed well into my friends skin whereas it sat on the surface on my hand and felt a bit too thick for my liking, where the Ero absorbed almost instantly and left my skin feeling powder smooth. The only thing that stopped me buying the full range of products was the huge build up of bottles and jars I already have at home that I’d been experimenting with. I can’t bear to waste it all, so I held off. But I should have started and ended my search here as the products seem perfect for me (I had NO idea what I was doing when I started looking around, there are just so, so many options). I’ve been told they’re going to start running ‘tribal night’ events so I’m keen to go along to the next one and buy the suite of products.
Eye of Horus – the girl manning the Eye of Horus stand (yet another brand I’ve never heard of) was wearing THE most beautiful gold eyeshadow I’ve ever seen. Apparently wax based products modeled off ancient egyptian formulas, the eyeshadow can be applied wet or dry. Sadly, they didn’t have any there to buy, so I searched the rest of the expo for a gold eyeshadow to buy and none of them compared. I’ll be looking to buy the Isis palette, but the Eye of Horus Australian website doesn’t appear to stock them! However the New Zealand one does. So it’s on my ‘to do/buy’ list for later.
Klara cosmetics – They seem to have really great products, and were giving away some cute free samples of their kiss proof liquid lipstick, but I’m not inclined to buy from them. They were so unfriendly and just gave off an unpleasant kind of snobby vibe. In part, this was because they were a busy stand, but when surrounded by competitors being much friendlier and more helpful, it would have been nice to see a higher level of customer service.
The Skin Boutique – They were having a pretty amazing deal on lazer treatments, 3 sessions of brazilian AND underarm lazer for just $27 each. I’ve been considering lazer for a while now so this was an offer I jumped on straight away! I’m sure they’ll offer another deal to continue, but if not, OzSkin was also handing out VIP membership cards that offer 50% off all lazer treatments so I’ll be able to switch over. I believe the Skin Boutique does also price match, though. We’ll see when the time comes.
All in all it was a really good event, though I could tell the exhibitors were disappointed by the number of people in attendance. I hope that won’t put them off from exhibiting again next year as I’d love to see Beautiful You break the cycle of ‘more numbers/poorer quality’. I’m sure as word gets out the attendee number will rise next year.
And I’m a little jaded but with so many competitions running yet no visibility of the winners, I wonder if all the brands running promotions on the day did genuinely draw a prize or if they just trusted in anonymity to not have to award them to anyone (since after all, who would know?)