Beautycon returns in September in Los Angeles.
The once-beloved beauty festival — which drew hordes of tween shoppers and even Cardi B — is back, under new ownership.
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The event attracted beauty lovers for years before it began publicly facing hardships in 2020, including layoffs and a civil suit. Beautycon was started in 2012 by Marina Curry as a conference for content creators. Jonathon Burford joined in 2013 as creative director/co-founder. He and entrepreneur Moj Mahdara took it over a year later, becoming Beautycon Media, a consumer-facing beauty festival. Acquired by Essence Ventures in 2021, it’s back with a new team, a reimagined beauty-filled festival coming Sept. 16 and 17 in partnership with Walmart — and a fresh tagline: rally the rising beauty rebels.
“We are really going to take an activist stance on particular components,” said Caroline Wanga, president and chief executive officer of Essence Ventures. “Yes, it’ll bring together influencers. Yes, it’ll bring together brands. But what’s different here is that we will play a role — as I do in every other of the brands in Essence Ventures — of taking the definition of beauty out of the hands of brands and putting it in the hands of the individuals to define for themselves that brands now engage with. That will be a very loud part of the role we’re going to play, and it is the same playbook we’ve used with each of the other brands that sit within my portfolio.”
Wanga also oversees Afropunk and Essence Studios.
“This will not be the Beautycon that just hangs out with brands and wants be friends with beauty influencers and have conferences where people can get samples,” Wanga continued. “Yes, some of that personality will still be there. But the goal here is to resolve what I would personally call one of the biggest unspoken health crises that are happening right now, which is these manufactured, photoshopped, product-induced, profile-filtered images of beauty that are impossible to accomplish as a human. But so many people are chasing them because of how advertised they are. And when they can’t get to that level of beauty, even though it’s impossible, they think it’s them, and they start to diminish their value in life, leading to … everything from mental illness to suicide.”
Wanga sees the new Beautycon playing a role in “restoring health to the beauty conversation by giving it back to the consumer.”
There will still be beauty product samples available to goers, she assured: “We will keep the activism, but we’re not taking out the joy…I know how important samples are to the people, right? But imagine this idea of samples being available, but there being a different requirement about what is in those samples being discussed and known as you get that sample. If this sample has had any sort of issues with it, how do we make sure that the consumer is educated on what’s in that sample? Not just what you like about the product, but what you need to be aware of from a health perspective. That’s what puts the consumer at the center.”
L.A. is just the first location; expect Beautycon to reach other cities, too, including internationally, both in-person and online.
“What I’ve set forth for our team as a challenge is to not be limited by geography, push for the things that can sit across the spectrum from physical to virtual,” added Wanga. “And remember that this brand represents more than Black. And the story of beauty around the world is just as much the story of beauty here in the U.S., and then the team will do their work to determine what locations and formats align to that as we continue to build the brand.”
Tickets for the L.A. event go on sale on June 15.
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