Hey guys. I hope you all had a great weekend, I know I sure did.
This past weekend was ISSE, the International Salon and Spa Expo in Long Beach California, held at the Long Beach Convention Center.
I started the first of 3 days off with a bang, having a VIP Media meeting with Jan Arnold, co-founder and style director for CND. I was so honored to find out I was her first appointment of the day!! Go Team Merricures!! I absolutely adore Jan, her passion, knowledge, and charisma I find to be both infectious and inspiring. She walked me through a wonderful presentation of both Spring and Summer 2015 Shellac and Vinylux collections. She also told me about a brand new revolutionary product launching next month, that I can’t wait to share with you all (trust me, I wasn’t leaving that meeting without a bottle of it). Jan was also very eager and proud to mention CND U, an online forum for nail education, had proudly launched.
We gabbed about New York Fashion Week and all of the amazing collaborations CND does with various designers, including: Libertine, Opening Ceremony, The Blonds, etc. Because we are both so passionate about fashion I had to take a break from nails and quiz Jan on her amazing fashion sense. I had to know who are her favorite designers. I was very surprised at how quickly and proudly she responded: 1. Comme Des Garcons (because they are never trendy). 2. Libertine (because of their unique perspective). and 3. Simone Rocha: (her latest obsession from London).
Then it was off to the show. The show didn’t begin on Saturday until 1 pm, and I unfortunately had to work an event on the other side of town in the early evening, so I was only able to stick around for 2 hours that day. Needless to say, the adrenalin rush of frantically running around trying to have catch up conversations with friends and colleges was a bit of a challenge. I did manage however to have a couple demos done at Young Nails and Akzentz.
While getting a demo, I spotted 3 of the lovely contestants from the hit nail reality show “Nail’d It”, including Ashley Craig, the 1st place winner, who received $100,000! They are all so great and sweet.
The next day, Sunday, was much better and more relaxed. I had a full day to properly catch up with a majority of my friends, and get some really cool demos done, including from Britney Tokyo and Natalie Minerva (of Nail Swag) at the Nail Labo booth.
I must admit I’m not the only one who was excited to get a demo done by these ladies. People were aggressively lining up and causing a stir at the Nail Labo booth because everyone was so excited and needed to purchase the exact products the girls were using to create their remarkable designs.
But when you see the kind of art these incredibly talented ladies do you understand why there was such a commotion/line. In addition to promoting Nail Labo products, which are of the highest quality, all made and imported from Japan, the girls were promoting their latest endeavor, a 6 piece line of highly pigmented gels specifically made for doing nail art, called Tokyo Swag. I’ve got some to review for you all, but more on that a little later.
I also had the honor of meeting the top 3 finalists of NAILS Magazine’s Next Top Nail Artist Contest Lexi Martone, Lavette Cephus, and Danielle Costantino. The girls were all so lovely and humble despite their immense creative talent. I was lucky enough to have a demo performed by Lavette Cephus (who was later announced that evening as the winner).
I couldn’t get over how cool Lexi Martone’s Nails were.
This is Lavette working her magic on me-
Nonetheless, the girls are each so remarkably talented.
Sunday I also died when I met one of my idols, celebrity nail tech Kimmie Kyees. She was such a delight and a wonderful person, more so than I ever could have imagined. She even gave me a few pieces of advice on tips she has learned over the years.
I also got to spend some quality time with my favorite buddies over at INM. They filled me in on all the new awesome products they have added to their line, including 4 new multi-use pens, quick dry spray, and an expanded lacquer line.
Sunday evening, after the show ended, NAILS Magazine and CND hosted a wonderful cocktail party/awards ceremony at nearby Cafe Sevilla where the winner of the Next Top Nail Artist competition was announced. There were tons of nail industry guests in attendance, including Sam Biddle, Katie Cazorla, and Doug Schoon to name a few. The awards themselves were MC’d by Hannah Lee and Jan Arnold.
As you probably know by now, my girl Lavette Cephus won! She cried and was physically shaking. Once she calmed herself down she delivered a beautiful acceptance speech.
Monday was the last day of the show. A lot of people in the industry call this “Students Day;” lots of individuals training in beauty school, hair, or nails come. By this day, Akzentz was highly picked over, virtually sold out of most products; having to take down many orders to be filled later on. I honestly think they did the best out of all the nail companies exhibiting at the show as far as selling product is concerned.
New to the convention this year was an awesome multi-competition winning line from Hungary, Crystal Nails. They have been highly successful throughout Europe for the last ten years, and are making a splash Stateside, offering an incredible insane amount of colors. They make over 500 shades of each hard gel, gel polish, and acrylic. Some of the colors I saw were incredibly unique and oh so beautiful, and glitters for days in every shade of the rainbow and beyond.
All sorts of technological innovation including: color changing, chrome finish, magnets, and light refraction were being demonstrated by award winning and famous nail techs, including Classic Mully, who also appeared on Oxygen’s hit show Nail’d It. I was fortunate enough to have a demo with her, which she shared her incredible art technique with me using their ChroMe & Tiger Eye Crystalac gel polishes, painting the underside of my nail primarily.
Also new this year to the convention was The Nail Spot, a designated area for all things specifically nails related: hands-on and complimentary nail classes, creative nail demonstrations, and competitions.
Absent this year from the show were a few major brands, including Essie, Cuccio, and hair care giant Moroccanoil. I also noticed some companies downsized their booth, and in some cases significantly, as much as half. I do not know why, but I am sure they all have their reasons.
Overall the show was great. I had an incredible time, and highly recommend everyone experience the ISSE show at some point. It’s an experience not to be forgotten.
Check out the rest of my photos in the gallery below.