This Beauty Pop-Up Is More Than Just an Instagram-Friendly Space

Beautycon’s inaugural retail pop-up aims to redefine traditional standards of beauty through hands-on mentorship, a female-focused retail shop, and confidence-boosting photo ops.

By Claire Hoffman November 29, 2018, 7:00 AM EST

One room is inspired by Drake's "Hotline Bling" music video.

Photo: Tasha Bleu

Beautycon Pop
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The world of consumer beauty events is no stranger to the concept of so-called “Instagram Museums,” with big brands such as Sephora recently adopting the idea. But Beautycon, a five-year-old community of beauty fans and creators that hosts popular festivals several times a year, is trying to do something slightly different with its new experiential pop-up in Los Angeles.

Designed as a more accessible, affordable alternative to the massive Beautycon festivals—which last year sold out at almost 30,000 attendees in both New York and Los Angeles—Beautycon Pop opened on November 16 in a 20,000-square-foot raw space near the Beverly Center with tickets priced at $25.

“Beautycon reaches over two billion people on social media, and we know not everyone is able to make it to our festivals,” explained Beautycon founder and C.E.O. Moj Mahdara. “Pop is a scalable version of the Beautycon experience we can bring to our fans wherever they live.”

In all of its events, Beautycon aims to redefine traditional standards of beauty and show how makeup is a tool for everyone—regardless of age, gender, race—to express themselves. The brand’s motto, after all, is “You don’t need lipstick, lipstick needs you.”

“We're using [Beautycon Pop] to undefine traditional standards of beauty, to make room for those who don't have a voice or are underrepresented,” said Mahdara. “We truly believe beauty should be inclusive—if we didn’t, our fans would smell the stink of disingenuousness and immediately drop us.”

“Beautycon Pop explores how we see beauty as a culture, and we want everyone to leave feeling empowered, gratified, and beautiful.”

The pop-up achieves this in a few ways. The main draw is, of course, the eight highly Instagrammable rooms, which range from a recreation of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” music video to the Macy’s-sponsored “Confidence Runway” room with a catwalk, flashing lights, and a wind machine, giving everyone their “own Beyoncé moment,” Mahdara said.

“It’s an experience that takes attendees on a fully immersive journey to discovering their best selves, so our inspiration [for the rooms was] our fans and what they love,” she continued. “Everyone deserves to feel beautiful and own their personal definition of what beauty means. Pop explores how we see beauty as a culture, and we want everyone to leave feeling empowered, gratified, and beautiful.”

The activation offers more than just the perfect selfie, though. Attendees can get makeovers, attend panel discussions from entrepreneurs and influencers, and schedule office hours with Beautycon staffers for hands-on mentorship on starting their own beauty-focused business. Another highlight is the company’s first retail space, which offers products from 25 independent, woman-owned brands.

“We’re creating a cultural curation of commerce featuring the indie, female-founded brands who are reinventing an industry dominated by men,” explained Mahdara, who chose brands that celebrate inclusivity and entrepreneurship. “These brands—like Mented Cosmetics, DedCool, Asarai, and KNC Beauty—and the consumers they represent are almost never acknowledged by traditional beauty retailers. We’re giving them the exposure and shelf space, both physically and virtually, they deserve.”

“Strong, outspoken women are having a cultural moment,” she continued. “We see them and we’re here for it.”

The pop-up was mostly conceived, designed, and produced by the in-house Beautycon team, which Mahdara describes as “small but scrappy.” Event firm By Dzign handled fabrication and lighting, Hypno provided photo and video booths, and We Are Self Employed crafted the retail strategy and operations. Furniture for the main gallery space was purchased from Joss & Main.

The Los Angeles space will be open through the end of the year, then Mahdara and her team plan to expand to additional cities both in the U.S. and abroad. “We live in a culture where brands no longer have the power to define beauty, and we as individuals no longer allow traditional standards of beauty to stifle our unique interpretation of it,” she explained, noting studies showing that 73 percent of millennials and Gen Z-ers are more swayed by friends and influencers than traditional celebrities and campaigns.

“It’s something my team passionately believes in—not something we use as a marketing gimmick to get more sales—and it’s ultimately driven by our fans. They know our message is authentic and something we’re tirelessly working to spread.”

Click through the slide show to see inside the colorful space. 

Launch Slide Show

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