This year a friend and I made the plunge to fly to NYC and attend IMATS NY 2013. It was a whirlwind trip that meant we had to cram a lot of stuff into a little time!
IMATS NY was located at Pier 94 (the famed Chelsea Piers) on April 6-7 with a ProCard Holders Only day on the 5th. As IMATS pre-warned, the tickets sold out a few weeks before the event. The event offered a vast amount of exhibitors that sold products and offered information about their services in addition to various keynote speakers and a student competition called “Battle of the Brushes”. Unlike some other MUA trade shows, IMATS is open to the public so no credentials are necessary to attend.
I attempted to do a lot of research so I could know what to expect so I felt pretty ready for everything. We only opted for Saturday attendance so this meant really being organized in what we wanted to do when we arrived. I kept checking the exhibitors list and visiting each companies website to get an idea of products I might be interested in and what their normal retail prices were. This helped give an estimate of how much money I should have with me. Most exhibitors offered discounts and specials but you weren’t guaranteed to know in advance how much so going by the regular price gave you some wiggle room.
So how was it? It was overwhelming, exciting, educational, and exhausting! We arrived early…a little later than intended but still early enough to make it there right when the doors opened. So did a whole lot of other people!
The line for entrance was long before 8:30 am (the time that registration started), but it moved fairly quickly. Before we knew it, we were inside and staring at what we dubbed the Makeup Enthusiasts Playground! This is where proper preparation comes in to play! I made my mini-list of exhibitors I was most interested in visiting and in some cases I made a detailed product list of items I wanted. This came in handy at the Inglot booth which was a nightmare to navigate if you wanted to swatch items (because so did a lot of other people), but a breeze if you knew what you wanted and had the item numbers ready to hand to someone behind the booth. Some booths stayed busy ALL day, such as Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics with lines stretching out further than one could see! Everyone was generally pleasant, but there were always those people who would try cutting the line or being a bit rude. For the most part though, the wait time gave room for people to mingle and get to know others that shared their love of makeup..and in my experience, help each other with suggestions on products.
Photo opportunities existed all over the place. There were plenty of YouTube Guru sightings and if you were lucky you could take a picture with your favorite Guru.
There were also amazing artists at work competing for the “Battle of the Brushes” competition.
Overall, I had a ball and can’t wait to attend next year. I would suggest going with the 2 day pass if you can so that you won’t feel like you have to rush. Trying to squeeze in all your shopping, watch keynote speakers, take photos, AND observe all of the artists at work can take more time than you realize…and the one day pass just won’t allow you to do it all. I was able to get all of the things I put on my list but I also missed out some great things because I was too tired to visit some of the booths.
A few tips that may help you out if you attend in the future:
- Research in advance and make lists!!! I can’t stress how much this will make your purchases go more smoothly and help you be at least somewhat aware of what is available! Which leads me to the next tip….
- Bring money to cover what regular retail price would be for the items you want. Chances are they will be discounted at least 10%, but bringing money for the full amount guarantees you a little extra for those gems you stumble upon and decide you want on the spot!
- Although most vendors accept credit/debit cards it may be best to come with cash. I noticed that most vendors only charged taxes for those that purchased using a card (in IMATS NY that meant paying the Chelsea tax of 8.85%). Plus, bringing cash keeps you from going too overboard and in debt if you don’t need to!
- Dress nice but be smart! Check the weather and dress appropriately. And please, please, PLEASE wear comfy shoes! You will spend most or all of your time on your feet. Trust me, you’ll regret those stilettos pretty quickly!
- If you’re a blogger or MUA don’t be afraid to network! Bring business cards, show people in line your website via an iPad, phone, etc. You are in a space with like-minded people that LOVE to learn more about beauty so take advantage of it!
- Don’t book hotel rooms or flights BEFORE purchasing your IMATS tickets. IMATS has a history of selling out so buy your tickets first so you won’t risk shelling out money for a trip to an event you can’t go to because of poor planning. I can’t tell you how many people showed up at IMATS just hoping to get in the doors and not being able to. There were a few opportunities where people got lucky and someone had an extra ticket to unload, but those were few and far between.
- Make sure your devices are fully charged! I didn’t notice any charging stations at IMATS NY (there may have been…I just didn’t see them) and chances are you will be taking a lot of pics, tweeting, etc. No one wants to get caught with a dead battery when they need it most!
- Consider bringing snacks and/or bottled water with you. Items were available for purchase, but you may find yourself thirsty while standing in line for an exhibitor. Do you really want to lose your place just to go rehydrate?
- Have fun! You can go home with far more than a great haul…you can find some amazing new friends! I sure did!