If you’ve been to a beauty industry trade show, the Beauty Boss Daniela Ciocan was most likely behind what made that show so magical. The founder and CEO of Access Beauty Insiders, Daniela’s specialty is working with direct-to-consumer brands looking to scale quickly and putting on award-winning events. What is the key behind her enormous success? Daniela explains that relationships are everything. You need to groom your relationships and stay in touch with your people. You need to be genuine and sincerely bring value and help people without expecting anything in return. This attitude will generate respect, and your network will respond accordingly. If you want more juicy bits of wisdom on how Daniela succeeded in the beauty industry, and if you’re excited to know what surprises to expect in the upcoming months, then you’re in for a treat!
Listen to the podcast here:
Reinvention: Industry Chameleon Shares Her Success Secrets With Beauty Boss Daniela Ciocan
Industry Maven Daniela Ciocan Shares Her Insight About What’s To Come In The Beauty Industry And The Sacrifices She Has Had To Make To Get Where She Is Today
Welcome to Ambition for Breakfast where we bring you food for thoughts and inspiration for your soul. In this amazing episode, we have beauty boss, Daniela Ciocan. She’s a two-time winner of Trade Show Executive’s Marketing Genius Award and she also grew Cosmoprof North America from its infancy to become the biggest beauty show in the world.
We’re excited for you to get to know her on a business and personal level. We’re going to talk about trends in the beauty industry and the business industry. We’re going to talk about her struggles as a boss woman in such a high, powerful position. We’re excited for you to get to know her a little more.
Anyone who wants to learn more about owning your space, this is the episode to read because Daniela is such a boss. It can come off as a bit intimidating, but she has put her career first and it absolutely shows with her success, her track record, and all of these incredible relationships with high-profile entrepreneurs that she’s been able to cultivate over the years.
Get ready to meet the ultimate breadwinner and enjoy the show.
Grab your breakfast and enjoy.
Thank you, Daniela, for joining us on Ambition for Breakfast. We’re excited to have you.
We have Daniela Ciocan. She is the CEO and Founder of Access Beauty Insiders. She is the organizer of Unfiltered Experience and one of our dear friends of our brand and personally. We’re excited to have you.
I’m excited to be chatting with you. Who doesn’t want Ambition for Breakfast?
Where does your drive come from? You’re so innovative. You always have these exciting projects in the works. What motivates you?
Always have the desire to try something new.
It’s always a desire of trying something new. I get giddy when I think of a new idea of a new project, especially if it wasn’t done before in the events space. It’s a challenge that I need in my life because it gives me then motivation and focus. Ideas come all the time and they excite me, and then I need to go for it. That’s why every year, I’ve tried to implement and bring something new to the market and to the shows I’ve been involved with.
Unfiltered Experience was so unique and we were thrilled to be part of such a special event that brought together industry leaders with these influencers of all sizes and from all backgrounds. What do you see as the future of events, particularly in the beauty space?
Events, especially with the pandemic, we’ll have to adjust and we’ll have to be different. Going back to the first edition of Unfiltered that we did, I ran Cosmoprof in North America for thirteen years and I took that event from it being hair-driven, salon-driven. I’ve turned it around into a place where indie companies would come to launch. That was the foreground for IT Cosmetics and Drunk Elephant to come to market and connect with the retailers. That was B2B-focused. After thirteen years, when I left, I started seeing a shift.
The shift was more towards direct-to-consumer and it was towards social media as an avenue of connecting with communities and with consumers more so than traditional PR media advertising. In seeing that shift, I wanted to create an event. The whole vision of Unfiltered was to create an event where brands, especially newer brands, fresher brands that are coming to the forefront in our space in beauty and wellness. They would have an opportunity to connect with social media influencers. Almost like I would connect Cosmoprof brands with buyers.
We’ve been connecting them the same way and making that organic connection between influencers and brands, and then bringing in this amazing content to inspire consumers. If they want to start their new business, they could hear from awesome founders who have been there, who’ve done it, who’ve had challenges and learn from them. Make it about beauty education and put influencers on a stage, and then have them do what they do on their social feeds, which are these amazing transformational makeovers, and then hairstyle education.
The event was wanting to take the whole concept of events and turning it around based on what I was saying, which is this direct-to-consumer shift. Social media is becoming important for brands. By the way, I have to give credit to Editour. Breanna and Karen, you were so instrumental in being my cheerleaders as I was doing the first edition of Unfiltered and then creating so that it was super fun. Many influencers said that there was unlike any other event because it was intimate. It was recognized by BizBash as well as the best influencer event of the year in People’s Choice Awards.
That was such a good feeling because we’re up against major multinational companies that have a lot of teams at their disposal and a lot of money, which wasn’t so much the case with us. Thank you to your team as well. That was an awesome recognition for the first initial event. When the pandemic came, every event was canceled, and then everyone was looking at virtual and we did too. We wanted to create something that was true to the DNA of what Unfiltered would be, which is this connection for brands with industry insiders.
Even the name Access Beauty Insiders, for me, was meant to give you the idea that the event is going to connect you to real insiders. How could we do that in a different way? We did a virtual event in mid-October of 2020 where we did speed dating, arrange meetings between buyers. We did work with Sephora and Walmart. Target Accelerators was a sponsor and was working with us, but then we brought in social media influencers. There were meetings that happened between influencers and brands. We did meetings between industry experts and then the brands.
It was a different event. It was challenging to put it all together because no one’s done just a virtual event ever as event organizers. We were treading on different water. It was a learning experience, but moving forward, having done a virtual, having done in-person events and looking ahead, every event will need to have a virtual component. You can accommodate people that don’t want to travel, cannot travel, and open up the event to different demographics that you may not necessarily want to have physically present, but you want them to interact somehow with your key stakeholders.
You even grew Cosmoprof North America from its infancy to this world-renowned event. You’ve been awarded as a marketing genius. You are an innovator. You work with many entrepreneurs who have so many different brands. How do you know that something is special and this brand is going to take off? Because that’s such a unique skill that you have.
Thank you, Karen. It’s using your eye. When you see many products come to the market, you recognize, “This is a me, too. I’ve seen this before. A different flavor, but I’ve seen this.” When you hear someone that has a unique story and they’re passionate about it. The packaging is right and it tells you the story. The ingredient builds on that, and then the communication is right as well. It’s like one layer stacked upon another where you feel like, “I get it. This draws me in.” If it draws me in, it has enough of something where it might have a chance. It’s competitive in our industry. We’ve seen many companies come to the forefront and unfortunately, not many of them make it.
They might make it where they’ve found there has a living where they don’t need a job, but they don’t make it to the level of IT Cosmetics, a billion-dollar brand. It’s difficult to get to that success because you need all of these ingredients. The majority of the founders that come into our industry are not chemists and they don’t have any unique patents. The first step everyone does is they go to contract manufacturers. The formulas that you buy from contract manufacturers are formulas that are adjusted to a certain degree, but the formulas there have been around on the shelf for years. That presents that from the get-go a little bit of a challenge.
I want to talk about when I first met you. I first met Daniela and I had heard so much about her. She was almost like this untouchable being, and then when I saw her in person, she was so glamorous. She was hosting probably the most prestigious party in the industry at the time and she was surrounded by the biggest CEOs in our industry. I approached her and she was with George Schaeffer who’s the godfather of OPI. I was shaking in my boots when I met you. I was like, “I’m meeting Daniela.”
For some reason, you picked me to be your friend and I see these amazing connections. I’ve been with you when we have been in a group setting where people are star-struck when they meet you. It’s been such a fascinating thing to see just to be a part of. You’re definitely one of my friends that’s like a flex spring. I’m like, “I’m friends with Daniela.” When people meet you, you’re like a magnet to them. I want to know, how do you do it? How do you keep all of your connections? How do you nurture all of your connections that you have because you have so many?
It’s funny you asked me that because I was saying to someone one time that one of the key things that most people in the industry are not getting is that relationships are everything. Grooming your relationships and staying in touch with people is so important. For me, I have this knack of remembering like, “Let me send a text message to so-and-so.” I’m good at remembering to send messages to people every now and then. Just check-in and be like, “I’m thinking of you.” Even through this pandemic, I’ve started to be more cognizant of the fact that although we cannot meet face-to-face, although we can travel and have events where you network and you see your friends from the industry. It’s important to still reach out and have a coffee chat or a wine date.
I’ve been trying to do that as well because, at the end of the day, you want to maintain your network. Going back to Karen’s first question about ideas, ideas come from just talking to a variety of people from different paths of life and different sides of our industry. For me also, I love the communication that I have because I hear things, and then that’s what triggers in my mind, “That could be something new that I do if I marry it with that and this.” For me, I thrive on relationships, and then it also gives me that spark for ideas and creativity.
You did also mention how competitive the beauty industry can be. To get to where you are now and to be renowned in the beauty industry, what were some of the challenges? Did you find that a lot of women weren’t quick to accept you and allow you to take up space in this industry?
When I was running Cosmoprof, I felt many times, you have to be as diplomatic as a politician because you want to keep everyone happy and involved with the brand and because it’s my nature too. I’ve always been like a 411 office where I don’t mind making connections. I don’t mind if you call me and you are looking for a job or you’re looking for something. If I can suggest someone or make a neutral, that’s fine. That also helped protect the space that I had and secure a certain space in people’s minds where they were thinking of me. I don’t think that everyone loves me in the industry, but I always try to be nice, fair, and helpful as much as I can. If you are your authentic self and you come from that space always of, “How can I be of assistance? How can I serve you?” With no expectation back, people can tell then who you are, and then they respond accordingly.
It’s better to be respected than just universally loved anyway. You have those genuine connections with certain people and they know your true heart. Ultimately, that’s what’s important because those relationships have been so important to your career and to your success.
Anyone would be genuine. For me, if someone asked, “Can you connect me with so-and-so?” I will do it, especially if it’s of value to the other person, and then to you as well. I try to also be cognizant that I need to bring value to everyone to the table as much as I can. Going back to what you’re saying, Karen, if you do that, it generates enough respect, and then people see and respond to that accordingly.
You are such a boss. You are intimidating and you know how to control the room. That’s something that a lot of women can learn from.
It’s funny you say that because I never think of myself like that. I always laugh with my friends, and I consider both of you as my friends. When you make comments like that and you’re like, “When you get on the stage, you’re so amazing.” I always feel like it’s never good enough. I’m not good enough at getting up on the stage. I’m not good enough at making myself heard and understood. It’s interesting how our perceptions and that of others don’t necessarily connect. We all need to work on that more. We always feel like we’re not good enough.
That it’s important, too, to have those friends who are able to remind you of who you are and your perception. Sometimes, they’ll text you before a big day or before a big media and say, “Don’t forget who you are.” It’s true.
It’s great to have friends like that in your corner, for sure. I have some girls that do that. They’ll send me powerful messages or they’ll take snapshots of my pictures and say, “Just a reminder. This is what you truly are.” That feels good for sure.
Who are your mentors or who are some people that you look up to and still aspire to be like?
I’ve never had a mentor per se, to be honest. I’ve always wanted a mentor. Ever since I got into the beauty industry, I always dreamed of having a mentor and I’ve never had that one person that was superglued to me throughout my career, but I do look up to powerful women. I am in awe of Anastasia Beverly Hills, her brand. She’s such a powerful woman and she has dedicated herself to her career. I can see her through the lenses of her being a mom and her being a daughter as well. She’s also Romanian as I am. I relate to that. I look up at her and I’m in awe and inspired by her. I love looking up at women that have made a mark on the industry and are trying to also balance life and career, which is hard, and who are being honest about the conversation.
Going back to your start, how did you get into the beauty industry? Was that always something that you’ve been passionate about?
I got into the beauty industry by sheer coincidence. I was in my early twenties and my parents had challenged me to get a job because I was partying too much, and then I was trying to get into the modeling world in New York City. I was going to lots of clubs and nightlife was my primary objective. My parents were like, “You have to get a job. This is not going to go on like this.” I didn’t have any skills at that point. I got a job selling cosmetics behind the counter at Bloomingdale’s and I fell in love with the industry.
There was an older lady who was working there and every day, I would go to work and she would be on my case and say, “Daniela, you’re such a bright girl. You’re young. You need to go to school.” I didn’t know what I loved. I loved selling beauty products. She was like, “I’m sure that there’s a school out there that you could go to where you could learn about the industry and maybe you can work in the industry.” That started me on the path and I found FIT, which is in New York City, and then they had a new cosmetics marketing bachelor’s program.
Maintain your network.
I registered and I graduated magna cum laude. From there on, I started working in the beauty space. I did my internship at Estée Lauder corporate with the VP of Origins. Once I graduated, I started working for the fourth largest Japanese cosmetics manufacturer called KOSÉ. They had a beautiful brand called Awake at the time that was way ahead of its age. This is twenty years ago or so I’m talking. We had sheet masks and the eyepatch masks that you see now. They’re so popular and people can grasp what they wore. That’s how I got started. After working on the brand side for nine years, I had an opportunity to start working with Cosmoprof and then turn around the show. Lo and behold, that was a fun journey and here we are.
That’s incredible that she saw something in you when you were first getting started behind the counter. That definitely speaks to your work ethic and your innate ability to sell and to discover these unique brands.
Even to this day, I always say I’m not a good salesperson. I was talking to another friend and she was like, “You could sell ice to Eskimos.” I said, “I’m not a salesperson.” One of the reasons why people connect with you in any situation is if they feel that you’re genuine and if you accept them as they are. I did that so well when I was selling beauty products. I would have customers that would come in and want to hang out. They would stay there the whole night and then would be like, “Just tell me what I need to buy so that I buy something.” That’s how it started. It’s amazing in hindsight that I was one of the top salespeople, although I was only working part-time.
I was doing makeup touch-ups, and then fast forward years later when I started and I was managing the Japanese beauty brand, Awake, and we were at Neiman Marcus, which was our primary distribution partner. I would travel every now and then to different stores as we were having store events with customers and with makeup artists. When we were short-staffed every now and then, I would step in to help out. Everyone would crack up like, “The boss is doing the makeover.” I was always nervous because I saw the team looking at me because I don’t do it every day. I remember those times, but I did do a makeover at the counter and I was good at it.
I love learning about your party days. Are you still a night owl? I feel like there are emails that come in from you and you’re working at 11:00 at night sometimes.
I am, Karen. It goes back to building relationships and having fun. Even when I run Cosmoprof, the last evening, we used to go clubbing. People that were close to me were invited and we would go VIP and we would party. Why not? I love dancing. Even at my age, which I’m not going to get into, I still love going to a club every now and then.
We had so much fun at the club at the first Unfiltered in Vegas. I love that you infuse your personality into the event too.
That was fun too. In my last Cosmoprof, we invited Crystal Waters who was this huge singer in the late ‘90s. We invited her because she launched a men’s skincare brand. We had her as a guest, and then we made her perform and we took over the LIGHT nightclub at the Mandalay Bay. We did a performance with her and we took over the club, which Cosmoprof has never seen anything like it.
Speaking of Cosmoprof, I feel like you’re so worldly because Cosmoprof was put on all over the world. I’m sure you must have been traveling nonstop. How does that compare to 2020 with not being able to travel? How has that affected you mental health-wise?
It’s been tough I have to say because you’re going 110 miles an hour and suddenly comes at a screeching halt and you’re not traveling anymore. You’re no longer connecting with friends. Most of my friends work in the industry so whenever I would travel, I would see my friends. You suddenly are not seeing friends and you don’t have those connections. I’m single so I’m home with my dog. It’s been tough. The event world has been one of the most hurt industries after hospitality. I spoke about the fact that we couldn’t do events. We just did a virtual event.
All in all, it has been a tough year. In a way though, it’s a good opportunity. For all of us, the learning from this pandemic is that it’s a moment to pause and look at what you’ve done so far with your life and if you’re on the right path and you’re doing what makes you happy. Are you creating an impact through what you’re doing? Are you happy with what you’re doing? This pandemic forced a lot of us to do that, myself included.
It isn’t a bad thing either because all of us can benefit from slowing down and reevaluating like, “Is this my path? Is this my purpose in life?” In that way, it’s been this unique moment in history for everybody.
We all become so involved with being busy. It’s such a good excuse in many ways. I’m such a pro at using that busyness. It allows you the luxury of not having to deal with certain parts of your life that might not be ideal. Let’s face it, there are few people that are balanced across community life, personal life, personal development, career, and family. Because of that reason, we all use this busyness as an excuse so we don’t deal with those parts where we’re not doing so well. COVID had ripped that band-aid off and it’s like, “You’re busy? How about now?” You have to look and observe all of these other parts of your life that you’ve neglected, and you have to make a decision. Do you want to do something about it or not?
Speaking of which, because you are so busy, I want to talk about some of the sacrifices that you’ve made for your career and that includes sacrifices in your personal life. As far as relationships go, you haven’t been able to have a relationship because you don’t have any time for that. What are some of those sacrifices? What did that look like for you? How are you navigating those now?
I got absorbed with my career and I associate it with Cosmoprof and running Cosmoprof because it offered the opportunity to create an impact on many entrepreneurs. I thrive in being of service, helping others grow, and seeing their passion stimulated me as well. It gave me that fuel to continue, innovate, and do more fun things and more fun projects. In doing so, I became self-absorbed in my work and it was all about work. You know that I have not dated. I had not paid any attention to my personal life. I would workout when I was home, but I was on the road most of the time. When I was on the road, I wasn’t working out. I was just going out to dinners and then having drinks, coffees and lunch. You name it.
It creates that kind of lifestyle where it was fun for me, but it also numbed me from having to deal with these other aspects of my life that I should have, which is family, taking care of myself, being better to myself, and then taking time out to have personal relationships and dating. That certainly impacted my life a lot, and because of COVID, I have taken a step back and I have evaluated certain things that I was doing. I’m wanting to do better. I am being better at taking care of me. I’ve started doing meditation almost every day and working out. I have been cleaning my diet a lot. I’ve started dating. I’ve put myself out there, which is so nerve-wracking. After not doing it for a long time, it’s so alien. I’m trying to do things that before I didn’t because I was just go, go, go and it was always go, go work.
There’s this intimidation factor, too, from dating guys in the past. I want to talk about dating when you’re at the top of your game. How has that played into an intimidation factor with them that you have dated? It is intimidating. I wanted to get into that as well as being such a powerful woman and being in such a position of power. How has that affected the caliber of guys that you date?
That’s the challenge. When you’re at a certain level in your career as a woman, you want to be dating someone who is your equal, who you can respect, but who can also understand the dynamics that you’re dealing with. If you’re dating someone that has a more laid-back career, who doesn’t travel a lot, who doesn’t have many demands put upon themselves by work, then they don’t get it like, “Why are you working at 8:00 PM? Why are you working weekends? Why are you traveling so much?” You need someone that is your equal from that aspect, which is difficult to find.
I have found, unfortunately, that many men are intimidated by women that are independent and they don’t need anything. All they want is the company of someone, but they don’t need to be taken care of. That’s definitely been a challenge. I’ve had girlfriends advising me, too, to not be honest about what I was doing and my career path and say, “I’m a hairstylist,” and keeping up with that so that I don’t intimidate other men.
I can’t do that because I feel like if you can’t take me as I am from the beginning, it’s not even worth going through the motions. I’m just going to be honest from the get-go like, “This is who I am and this is my lifestyle. If you can accept it and you’re fine with it, then awesome. If not, it’s not going to work out.” It’s difficult dating and finding men that are at your level and having them accept your independence. They’re a nice addition to your life, but they’re not the point of your life.
Thank you for opening up about that because I feel like that’s something that’s unspoken. It’s not a conversation, but it is important. A lot of women are dealing with this and things are changing in the workforce. I feel like that’s something that goes with it and it’s a common thing that happens.
The other thing, and you can relate to this, is maybe you don’t want to have a person that is your equal because you want to have that level of support. You need to set your expectations where the other person then is not going to be go, go, go and the same level financially as you are and educational as you are, but they’re going to give you the nurturing. They’re going to give you the attention that you may want, but you’re not going to get it from someone who is busy. You’re not going to get from a CEO of a company who’s always on the phone and who’s traveling all the time. We’re going to get quality time with that person, but you’re not going to get the nurturing, waiting at home for you, and doing things for you as someone else would. It’s understanding yourself and what are you okay with and what can you live with.
I couldn’t imagine going through the process of starting my own company and breaking off and being a little bit more independent without having such support at home. It was flawless. I appreciate you bringing that up. Of course, you want to be equally yoked with your partner, but that doesn’t mean financially necessarily.
There’s a compromise there because if both of you are career-focused and you’re pulled into different directions at all times, it’s normal that what you will have is shorter time together, but it will be more quality time. If you have someone who is not so career-driven, therefore, they can focus their time on you.
Maybe someday, the kids.
Not in my case, but in your case, for sure. My only kids would be my Cavalier King Charles. I love her.
Thank you for opening up about that. I appreciate you seeing something in me. You have such a natural gift to find the right people, place them, and help them grow their careers. I appreciate you for doing that and for taking the time and talking to us. I wanted to thank you for being such a great friend to Editour. I would love to get into what you’re working on and what’s coming up for you.
I do have to step back. I do appreciate you a lot as well. We’ve met several years ago and you have grown so much. I’m so proud of this successful boss that you’ve become, the company you’ve built, and the impact that you are having on many entrepreneurs, and then the influencers you work with, which is young talent coming into the industry. I commend you for growing into this beautiful young lady who has a great impact on the industry.
To your question, what am I working on? With events being the way they are, I wanted to try something for a while and that was getting on digital TV and allowing founders to tell their story and allowing consumers to discover new brands through the stories of founders. We have a collaboration with Bspoke TV and there’s going to be a pilot show called Behind the Mirror that will air sometime at the end of April 2021. Each episode will feature four founders that will be telling their brand story. Bspoke TV is available on Cox and they’re available on several different channels. They’re available through Apple TV and then through App Store, which you can download on your end.
We’re working with Beauty Care Choices so each episode will have its own dedicated beauty box that the viewers could order and that way they can try the products from the companies that they’ve seen in the episode. I’m excited. I’ve been doing lots of interviews with founders and some of them are more well-known than others but it’s so much fun to ask them their stories and how they got started in the industry and their learnings. I’m working on putting together this show and bringing it to life and we’ll see how that goes.
We can’t wait to see it. We know it’s going to be amazing if you’re involved.
It’ll be fun. You’ll discover some awesome founders and some cool brands as well.
You’re in your natural habitat working with entrepreneurs. I feel that’s where you thrive and where you’re so comfortable.
That is so true. I’m having them talk about their products and making them feel comfortable, so that’s been fun.
You’re so hands-on. Are there some trends or some products that are up and coming that you’ve been seeing from talking to the founders? I’d love to hear about business trends too, but I’d love to start with the beauty trends.
We see a lot of focus on vitamin C now and retinols in general. It has to do with the fact that we’ve been home during this pandemic and a lot of spas and derma offices were not open. Vitamin C and retinol are good alternatives for boosting your skin with elasticity, clarity, and brightness. We see those two ingredients. Clean beauty continues to do well. However, there’s a shift now more towards clinical brands that do have performance at their core. Sustainability is becoming huge. You see more CBD being used especially in ingestible and gummies. I am excited about this new brand that we’ve worked with at Unfiltered as well. It’s called High On Love, which is a company based in Canada. It’s a luxury sexual wellness brand that uses CBD.
Try to be nice, fair, and helpful as much as you can.
The packaging is over the top beautiful and feminine. I love the products. They’re quirky. They have everything from a candle that when you burn it, it transforms into an oil that you can use for massage oil. They have dry body oils and body paint chocolate. They have fun things and I feel in a way it takes the conversation of sexual wellness in a direction where it’s not dirty, it’s not taboo. I’m excited about seeing that. I love that brand. Sexual wellness is definitely an area of category that we see more of. Makeup has suffered a lot, unfortunately, especially since we’re home. We’re not using lipsticks as much, but it will see a resurgence. A lot of people are talking about the Roaring Twenties. We’re waiting for sure. Makeup companies are waiting for that.
I’m laughing because I still wear makeup. I’m still buying them. I’m that sucker. I’ll use it once, but I have to have it.
That’s awesome. I use it when I do video interviews, but other than that, no. I’ve been good with my bare skin.
I’ve been living on drugstore. Honestly, the drugstore caliber nowadays is comparable to these high-end brands. That’s exciting. There’s more competition for these well-established big guns in the industry.
What do we need to get?
I’m wearing the Nyx Foundation. The L’Oreal Air Volume Mascara is incredible. I love Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, but then this air volume is wow. It’s similar in formula so I love that. What makes beauty fun is, there are always these new exciting formulas coming out. You can mix the high and low and love across all different kinds of genres.
Let’s not forget, hair has been massive through this pandemic.
Tell us how. What have you observed?
More people are getting comfortable doing hair color at home so you’ve seen Madison Reed. Their business has exploded. You’re seeing more people be comfortable with their natural hair. Maybe not necessarily coloring or not flat ironing their hair and doing chemical treatments. They’re letting it be in its own natural state. You’ve seen more activity around hair care at home like hair masks at home. That’s great. The nail segment took a nosedive before the pandemic with so many salons closed or people not feeling comfortable going to nail salons. The nail category picked up a lot. That was good to see because there are a couple of cool indie brands that came to market. They’re seeing now a resurgence in sales and interest. It’s good for them.
Those are so key to point out. We represent a few waxing brands and especially at the beginning of the pandemic, waxing kits were going crazy. They still are. People are waxing at home. It’s crazy because everything seems so much more low maintenance and it’s been refreshing. I hadn’t gotten my hair done for months and my hairstylist was watching my stories and she’s like, “You should come in.” I’m like, “I totally forgot.” She’s never hit me up to come in ever.
I also went natural for about a year and finally, I decided to go back to blond.
How does your hair feel now?
It feels healthier but it’s a commitment. We’ve got to go to that stylist every few weeks.
What about some business trends you’ve been seeing?
You see a way more direct to consumers. There are so many brands now that because retail has been impacted, you see a lot of direct to consumer. Everyone is wanting to have their own eCommerce even in a professional beauty space, which traditionally are products that are sold in a salon or a spa because those institutions have been closed. In California, for example, salons were shut down for most of the pandemic so a lot of the professional beauty brands now are investing in their own eCommerce and selling direct, which you have seen before.
Direct to consumer is huge. In online sales, more consumers are now buying online and are more comfortable with buying online. Amazon continues to have a huge impact. There were many brands that were hesitant going on Amazon, but you’re starting to see more the acceptance that is another distribution avenue and there are a lot of eyeballs there. There have been more shifts to companies being more apt ongoing on Amazon.
Even from an investing point of view, you’re starting to see investors interested in spending money on companies that might be exclusive to Amazon only, which you didn’t have before. It tells you that it’s becoming its own moment for the beauty space as well because it wasn’t as much for beauty before. You’re starting to see companies like Ulta partnering with Target. We’re going to see Ulta shops within Target stores. Sephora is now going to Kohl’s. It’s interesting to see the specialty beauty retailers tap into the mass market retailers that have a lot of storefronts that are outside of traditional malls. They could tap into new audiences and they could bring more of the indie brands to consumers that may not necessarily know those companies and those products.
The trend that you picked up on back in 2017 was streaming and now look at where streaming is. People are streaming nonstop. It’s this billion-dollar idea of yours.
There are a lot of companies that are certainly focusing on live streaming. As with anything new, it will be trial and error and will take some time for people to get used to that format but it has a lot of opportunities and a lot of people are now starting to pay attention to it. It’s something that for sure I’ve seen do so well in China. I felt like it had to come to the States. We’re going to watch and see how it’s going to evolve.
What do you think is also the future of influencer brands? For a while, we saw so many amazing collabs come out with influencers and huge brands. Influencers started to go straight to consumers and do it themselves. There was this huge influx before the pandemic and it’s slowed down since, but what do you feel is the future of influencer brands?
Most of the influencers or in the makeup arena, which as I was saying, the makeup category suffered the most. There’s only so much innovation that you can do with makeup so it’s more about the packaging as a key differentiator. Buying makeup online, especially a new brand, is more challenging. You’re limited to pretty much selling to your own community. That percentage of sales, I was reading 0.25% of your community will basically be converting and buying. There’s not a whole lot of business truly, if you think of it.
The influencer brands have seen a slowdown. What we’re seeing now is a move back to celebrities. There are more celebrities coming into the fold, which was the trend in the ‘90s and the 2000s. We’re starting to see that again. We’ve seen JLo come up with her brand. We’ve seen Ariana. Rihanna’s Fenty is getting into hair. You’re starting to see more celebrities bridge and coming to the industry. The influencers are now being shifted and the spotlight is on the celebrities.
The celebrities also have huge backing. Rihanna has Kendo that she partnered with. Lady Gaga has the ability to sell house slabs on Amazon. They crushed the competition in terms of these smaller influencers launching a few pallets.
As a celebrity, you have more ability to use a bigger platform and a bigger megaphone than a traditional social media influencer.
You talk a lot about AR and virtual reality playing a part in shaping what’s to come in beauty. Do you still feel that’s the case?
Yes. That has helped a lot with those shifts from buying online from stores to online. AI and AR have helped a lot because it allows consumers to experience and try on a product without having to touch it. We’re going to see a wider adoption of it where it helps consumers identify products right for them be it skincare or hair or helps with color matching. We’re certainly going to see more of that.
This is all great to know. We know that you’re ten steps ahead of the competition and we value your insight and value you being on the show and sharing with us.
Thank you. This was fun and I enjoyed having ambition for breakfast. I need another cup in a minute.
You are the queen of connection, innovation, and reinvention. Where can our readers go and follow you and support you?
Thank you, Daniela. We can’t wait to see the big things to come.
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It was fun.
It’s our pleasure.
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About Daniela Ciocan
Daniela Ciocan is the Founder/ CEO of Access Beauty Insiders, a specialized firm whose proven 360-marketing approach achieves guaranteed deliverables for emerging direct-to-consumer brands looking to scale quickly.
Quoted in national media outlets such as VICE, Forbes, and New Beauty, the former Marketing Director for Cosmoprof North America (CPNA) is known for a next-generation multimedia approach that fuels strong industry innovation, as well as revolutionary creative collaborations among retailers, distributors, and influencers.
A two-time winner of Trade Show Executive’s “Marketing Genius Award”, Ciocan is credited with growing CPNA’s annual tradeshow from infancy to become one of the most awarded exhibitions in the country, continuously listed as one of America’s “50 Fastest Growing” and “Top 100 Gold Shows” by Trade Show Executive and TSNN with over 1,400 exhibitors and 40,000+ attendees from across the globe.
Representatives from retail giants like Amazon, Ulta, Neiman Marcus, QVC, and Barneys New York look to “Business Woman of the Year” and “Female Executive of the Year” (Women World Awards) winner Ciocan to find “the next big thing” in beauty.
Now, the same mind that earned the distinction of “Best Exhibitor ROI” across all largest US exhibitions launches Access Beauty Insiders and the Unfiltered Experience – a first-of-its-kind pop-up event engineered to create powerful monetization opportunities and drive value conversion for direct-to-consumer brands.