Since we have already been promised that Indie Expo Canada 2020 planning will begin soon, read all about my day at the third IEC and why you should attend next year. If you are not familiar with Indie Expo Canada, it is run by Girly Bits and brings indie beauty makers (mostly nail polish but skincare and beauty too) together once a year in Toronto. Some of the major benefits are seeing the polish in person, meeting the makers, exclusive products and spending money on polish instead of shipping.
Tickets for 2019 were $20 for general admission but you could upgrade for early entry or get a VIP ticket that includes a bag filled with goodies. I have a post about the Indie Expo Canada 2019 VIP Bag here so won’t go on about it, but for an extra $55 you get 8 polishes and a bunch of skincare, nail care and more. It is well worth the upgrade, especially as you get in hours before general admittance to snag those sought after exclusives.
Indie Expo Canada Exclusives
As a blogger, I am torn between buying polishes I think people will search for and the pretty exclusives that you can only get at IEC. Most of the attending brands have an exclusive polish or product scent that is only available that day. There are maybe 50 people with the same colour polish as you. You might get lucky with some that don’t sell out on the day and the makers sell the extras but if you want them, shop in person!
There are also early releases of polishes. If you are a blogger looking to get views or a following, getting the polishes up before they go on sale can get you hits. If you are a nail polish lover, you avoid that launch time craziness knowing you already have them. Plus you are skipping turnaround time, shipping time and costs and possibly customs fees.
Meet The Makers
Sometimes it can feel like you know makers pretty well as the indie beauty community is still pretty small. You likely post in a lot of the same facebook groups, follow your fave brands on social media where they share tidbits about their non polish related lives. It is great to meet them in person.
Not all of the makers can attend and some have bloggers or other volunteers at their tables who are often more familiar than the makers. It is great to see online friends in person too. You get a tag to add your name/handles to so you can recognize people.
Indie Expo Canada already lets you skip shipping costs (and with shipping in/to Canada one order is pretty much your entrance). But you can also get lots of deals at the show. Well priced mystery polishes and bargain bins of older shades. Gifts with purchase or multibuy deals. Some makers mark the regular cost down as they are not subsidizing shipping or dealing with credit card fees. It really doesn’t take much to make back the cost of a general admittance ticket.
If you are on a budget, most post pricing ahead of time. Go with a list of what you want but leave some cash for bargain purchases. For example, LynB Designs had a selection of polishes at 3 for $20 and if you told her a funny fact about yourself, you got a gift too! Deals like that are hard to pass up and they were nice colours too, not just hard to move polishes. It may not seem like it, but the VIP bag can help you stay on a budget too. You start off with 8+ polishes and other goodies so less of a “I’m going home with so little” feeling and the full size items were less than $5 each.
Newer / Smaller Brands
Let’s face it, few of us want to take a chance on a brand we are not familiar with when it means paying shipping costs. Polish Pickup has been great for picking up those new to me brands. But each year, there has been a brand I am not super familiar with. It is nice to be able to see those polishes in person before buying. They often don’t have swatches from the bigger nail bloggers I follow either, so nice to get them on the radar.
Of course, there are some fan faves you just want to support. I know I am much more likely to attend craft shows if my fave brands are there. You can always reach out to your faves now and nudge them to watch for updates. Even if they haven’t attended yet, they could next year! I’m sure Pam could squeeze a few more tables in there.
It’s Not All Nail Polish
OK, there is a lot of polish. But also, Cuter Cuticles with her amazing oils and other nail/skincare. Clionadh with makeup, and many of the brands have lines of skincare too. If you are not as into polish as some of us, you can still find some great products and support small businesses at IEC.
Indie Expo Canada also has a charitable side and has auction tables to raise money and awareness for their charity of the year. You can bid on $5 polishes all the way up to a Helmer filled with polish and other goodies.
It’s Not All Shopping Either
There are several tutorial tables each year. This year, you could learn to stamp, do fluid nail art or freehand designs – and the tutorial tables were FREE. Run by some amazing nail bloggers you likely follow, and with a table full of donated products to try. It wasn’t like just watching a video, you actually got to try it with them helping you.
You can also attend events on the Saturday before including a polish making workshop where you got to make an event exclusive and two custom polishes of your choice. A meet and greet cocktail event the night before the shopping event and more. There is even a discussion panel where brands and bloggers answer your questions and give you behind the scenes info on what they do.
And with all of that being said, I expect to be there next year and hope you will be too!
This post is not sponsored but I am part of the official Indie Expo Canada press team.