The Makeup Show kicks off its 2012 schedule this weekend with a show at the California Market Center. From there it will travel to New York in May, Chicago in June, Berlin in September, and a new location—Orlando—in November. Each show provides two days of education and appearances from industry professionals, along with networking opportunities and product demonstrations for beauty insiders, makeup artists, buyers, hairstylists, photographers, and models. Shelly Taggar is vice president of creative services and sales for Metropolitan Events and Production and has been in charge of the show since it began in 2006. We spoke to her about how the show has grown over the years and what she has learned along the way.
You started in 2006 in New York, then added Miami and Los Angeles. In 2011 you added Chicago and Berlin. This fall the show will come to Orlando instead of Miami. How do you select markets for expansion?
We first ask all of our exhibitors what they thought about the show and where else would they want it to grow. Based on that, we research each market that they suggested or that we think may work for us. We try to make sure there is no other show that is competing with us in that city. And make sure that there is a good audience of makeup artists and beauty industry insiders, and that it is a place that would be successful for us in terms of having those people there. So of course L.A. has TV and film, New York is beauty and fashion. In Chicago, there was nothing [for the makeup industry] there like this so we felt it was a great city for us, and Berlin is the new fashion capital of the world. And this year we decided to switch Miami with Orlando because we feel Orlando would be a better area for us attendee-wise with it being such a convention city, and it has the studios.
The Makeup Show is now in its seventh year. What have you learned over the years?
What I’ve learned is you should always find the right people in each city where you are and connect with them to work with you. I always have an additional production company in those cities helping us, a good sound and lighting company, the staff at the facility itself. They will support you when you go outside of your comfort zone, which for us is New York.
And the other thing is to really listen to your exhibitors. They spend so much money traveling and shipping all their stuff, so it’s important to really know what works for them. We are all about the customer service. We make sure we listen, and we hear, and we make changes as needed to make sure we don’t have any unhappy exhibitors. And really in seven years, we don’t have any unhappy exhibitors. They always come back with us. Every sponsor does all five shows and the same with every exhibitor, which means they really trust what we do.
How do you gather feedback from exhibitors and attendees?
At the end of the day before the show closes, we give exhibitors a survey. It has 20 questions about their experience with the show. Attendee-wise, we have a lot of people that attend all of our shows so we take a small selection and chitchat and try to find out what they enjoyed from the show and what they would change. And then we make changes from that.
Can you share an example of a change you made based on input from exhibitors?
We used to do L.A. the last weekend of February, but the last two years it fell on the Oscar night, which is a big night for makeup artists. So after hearing from our exhibitors and attendees, we moved the show this year—it’s this weekend, March 17 and 18—to make sure we are not on top of Oscar night.
Your shows are small by design, with about 70 to 80 exhibitors at each one. Tell us about that.
We try to make sure our shows don’t become a gigantic convention show. Our show is considered very boutique. We pick and choose our exhibitors and make sure there are not duplicates. So there’s not 50 brands doing brushes. We have a waiting list in each city for exhibitors, especially in New York and L.A. We always get requests to increase, but we just don’t think it’s fair. In order to increase the show, we would need to work on getting much more attendees and really there’s a certain amount of makeup artists out there. Our largest show is New York at 8,000 attendees. Last year we had 4,000 in Los Angeles and we will probably have 6,000 there this weekend.
Is the show the same in every city?
It’s not exactly the same. We tailor the education event to that city. So in New York most of the education is about fashion and beauty. In L.A. we do more special effects and body painting. In Berlin it was a lot about the body painting and the fashion. Our show comes with so much free education, about 40 or so seminars and keynotes and hands-on sessions, and we make sure we tailor that to each of the cities. We don’t use the same keynote artists. What goes with us is really our sponsors and exhibitors
You have a team of eight people that you work with in your New York office to produce these shows. How do you create interest when you launch a new market?
The main thing for us is we make sure we travel there a few times during the year and do different small events to meet the artists. We get partners in those cities, people that can work with us, people that can help us market it to the city. And we do a lot more advertising and social media for the new shows than an existing show.
How are you using social media?
We have a social media person who is in charge of all that. We have a Facebook fan page where we generate all of the news. Every time we sign a keynote or get a new sponsor for any of the cities, it goes on that page. The page has followers from all around the world. We have a blog that is attached to that also where we post stories daily. We’ll post stories from different places about things happening in the beauty industry. We do a lot of online advertising, more than we’ve ever done. We used to do much more print. Now we do stuff with Google and Facebook and so on. Nowadays this is really how people find out about everything. And with our Twitter account and our YouTube channel, we are all across the board getting the most amount of people to see what we do and where we are.
What are your plans for the future?
We’re checking a couple of more markets, some international and some are in the States. We try not to do too much. We try to make sure the shows we have are very strong and successful before we would go even further and get another city. So this year it’s all about making Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and Berlin strong shows.