Category Archives: Brand Profiles

Retail notes from Shanghai: [Show Report] China Beauty Expo 2019

This was my third visit to China Beauty Expo, the biggest C&T trade fair in mainland China, and every year the show becomes more manageable. Don’t get me wrong, it is still huge: in 2019 there were more than 3,500 exhibitors, 27 exhibition halls and 50 VIP halls (mostly tents) on a quare footage of 260,000 sq m. CBE is also still super crowded – tickets are free and anyone can attend, i.e. there’s no trade visitor accreditation; simply turn up, fill in a form and that’s it. However, I now know what to expect and that’s makes things much easier.

China Beauty Expo 2019 took place in the Shanghai New Exhibition Centre (SNIEC) in Pudong, just like last year. I do like the layout of this trade show centre – it might be massive but the triangular shape of the fair grounds make navigation easy and you can just cut across the grassy enclosure if you’re in a hurry. For more info on SNIEC, the hall layout and what the whole CBE experience is like, check out my show reports of China Beauty Expo 2017 and China Beauty Expo 2018.

And now, click on the link below to read more about China Beauty Expo 2019 and my favourite brand discoveries!

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Retail notes from Seoul: [Show Report] Getitbeautycon 2019

This was a bit of an impromptu trade show visit! Visiting the big Chicor flagship in Gangnam I discovered Korean skin care brand Toun28, started following them on Instagram and saw in their Instastories that they were exhibiting at a COEX event called Getitbeautycon this weekend.

Then I googled Getitbeautycon and found out that this is an annual beauty expo organised by popular Korean cosmetics reality show, Get it Beauty. As you might expect Getitbeautycon is a lifestyle-ey event rather than a serious trade show – hordes of Korean beauty bloggers, Q&As with celebs and influencers, brand promotions and activities, live makeovers and workshops, freebies and selfie corners; you get the idea : )

I really wanted to get the opportunity to look at the Toun28 products in more detail (the Chicor only had a partial selection) so I decided to check out the expo, and I’m so glad I went! I spent most of Sunday at the show and really enjoyed myself, discovered some interesting new brands and even met some old favourites.

Click on the link below for pictures and brand discoveries from the 2019 edition of Getitbeautycon! Spoiler alert: if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen these brands in my feed already. However, I can be so much more expansive in a blog article than within the restrictive Instagram word limit : )

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Retail notes from Tokyo: [Show Report] Cosme Tokyo 2019

Cosme Tokyo is getting bigger and better every year. The 2019 edition of Japan’s largest trade show for retail cosmetics featured 780 exhibitors from 35 countries. And over 25.000 visitors attended during the three days of Cosme Tokyo and its sister fair, Cosme Tech.

It was one busy and very cool show! My Insta feed shows almost 30 mini brand/product profiles which is usually my Cosmoprof Asia average! Anyway, it was an exciting trade fair: I met a lot of interesting new brands (and some old favourites). And if you’re interested: here is my Cosme Tokyo 2018 show report.

For more on my favourite brand discoveries and the key trends at Cosme Tokyo 2019, click on the link below!

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Retail notes from Hong Kong: [Store Profile] Mi Ming Mart

On my very last afternoon in Hong Kong I visited beauty retailer Mi Ming Mart‘s Causeway Bay outlet.

It was actually a recommendation by someone I had met at Cosmoprof Asia trade show the previous day: Sophie from Hong Kong-based organic beauty distributor Aura HK – the company’s portfolio includes European brands like Dr. Hauschka, Melvita, Sanoflore, Flow Cosmetics and Avril – suggested that I check out Mi Ming Mart, a clean beauty store chain founded by a Chinese beauty KOL (Key Opinion Leader = Influencer). It sounded intriguing (and I do love me some female entrepreneurship!) so I went – and Mi Ming Mart is indeed a fascinating retailer.

The first Mi Ming Mart was opened in 2009, so the company has been a mainstay of Hong Kong’s niche beauty retail scene for almost a decade. Founder Erica Yuen is a former beauty queen turned social media icon/celebrity who was also active in local politics between 2011 and 2016 – she is the co-founder of Hong Kong’s radical pro-democracy party Power Voters and from 2013 to 2016 served as chairperson of the pro-democracy People Power party before focusing on further expanding her retail business.

Which she seems to have been doing successfully: in February 2018 Mi Ming Mart was listed on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of Hong Kong’s stock exchange. According to parent company Inwell International’s annual report, group revenue grew 19.3% to HKD 123.4 million in the financial year ending March 2018 – a result which can be traced back to the opening of three new retail stores (Quarry Bay, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O) and the strong performance of skin care sales. The company’s gross profit climbed 18.4% to HKD 74.8 million over the same period.

For more information on the company and the store click on the link below!

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Vivaness 2018: [Show Report] The biggest organic C&T show in Europe

Well, Vivaness 2018 has come and gone. The 11th edition of the trade fair took place from 14th to 17th February 2018 together with sister show Biofach, the biggest organic food trade show worldwide. I actually had to go through my old show reports to count how many times I’ve attended this trade show; 2018 was my fifth Vivaness visit.

In total there were 3,218 exhibitors at both shows (275 of these companies and brands were Vivaness exhibitors) which is a big increase compared to 2017 – check out my show reviews for Vivaness 2014, Vivaness 2015, Vivaness 2016 and Vivaness 2017.

This year’s trade fair seemed to feature more small and newcomer brands than previous years (especially in the newcomer Breeze exhibition area) which was fabulous – after all, this is one of the main reasons why I love visiting trade shows: new brand discoveries!

Which is also why this show review will focus on international niche and start-up brands (many of which you’ll recognize from my Instagram feed).  Also, with a few exceptions, these are all brands that I’ve never written about on trend-traveller, so this is quite exciting for me as well. I’ve grouped the brands by country, but in no particular order.

And now, click on the link below to read more about my favourite brand discoveries at Vivaness 2018!

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[Brand Profile]: Kimature

I first came across Hong Kong-based beauty company Kimature at China Beauty Expo 2017 in Shanghai this May and was immediately intrigued by this unusual organic beauty brand. Not only are Kimature’s products based on TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) plant extracts but the brand’s cosmetics are manufactured right there in Hong Kong with locally sourced herbal ingredients.

When I was in town a few months ago for Cosmoprof Asia 2017 I met up with founder Kim Chen and her husband Edward Ian and asked them a bunch of question about their company. Click on the link below for more information about Kimature’s products and the concept behind the brand.

Kimature White Jade Orchid range

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Retail notes from Tokyo: [Brand Profile] Tokotowa Organics

Today I visited organic perfumery chain Cosmekitchen’s Naturopathy outlet in Shinjuku’s luxury Newoman department store to check out the aromatherapy fragrances of Japanese organic perfume brand Tokotowa Organics. I had met the founder of Tokotowa’s parent company Organic Styles at the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2017 in Berlin just last month – and of course I was immediately interested. A Japanese aromatherapy brand? Cool!

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Retail notes from Bucharest: [Store Profile] MioBio

I just returned from a few days in Bucharest. It was my second visit to the Romanian capital and we were so lucky with the weather this time: very warm, blue sky and sunshine. Beautiful! And perfect weather for sight-seeing.

Most of my time was spent sauntering around the area between Calea Victorei, Piata Romana, Bulevardul General Gheorghe Magheru and Piata Universitatii. I also visited the Museum of Art Collections and sampled the new cocktail menus of my two favourite Bucharest bars (Fixmad and Origo by Night – Origo is a café which turns into an experimental cocktail bar after 8pm!).

I also discovered the recently opened craft beer pub Fabrica de Bere Buna (and became a firm fan of Romanian craft brewery Hop Hooligans in the process!) and in between I actually got some work done (mostly in Ted’s Coffee Co in University Square which has excellent espresso and strong wifi).

Also on my must-do list of things for this visit to Bucharest: check out organic beauty store MioBio!

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Retail notes from Sofia: [Store Profile] Zoya

I just returned from a short city trip to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The city is absolutely worth a visit: a compact old town center which is perfect for walking around all day, with a wonderful hodge-podge of architectural styles (art nouveau/1930s/1950s and later). Most of the buildings are still very much in disrepair and/or graffitied/vandalised but enough houses have been renovated and restored that you can see the beauty of the cityscape.

My first visit to Sofia was in 2008 and back then the city looked a lot more – well, let’s say: unfinished! Today there is an almost palpable creative energy: new cafés and bars are opening in beautifully renovated historic buildings and small art galleries, fashion boutiques and maker/design stores are popping up everywhere.

And organic beauty/food retail chain Zoya is a perfect example of this new kind of urban development. The Bulgarian company’s first store was opened in 2009 which, presumably, makes Zoya one of Sofia’s organic retail pioneers. Today, Zoya operates three stores in Sofia as well as a flourishing online shop.

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Retail notes from Shanghai: [Brand Profile] Urtekram China / Yatikelan

The last stop on my recent Asia trip was Shanghai; China’s largest city (according to Wikipedia) and one of the country’s four so-called top tier cities. It was my first visit to Shanghai (and mainland China) and I loved it.

Granted, I only saw the (touristic) city centre – I was there for just four nights (on the 144 hour transit visa deal for EU citizens) and two of those days were spent at China Beauty Expo 2017 – but still: such a cool city!

It’s great for exploring on foot, has a fascinating cityscape, interesting buildings, stores and markets, and the food!!! And Shanghai has a fabulous bar scene, too – I wish I could have had an extra few nights to try out all the bars on my short list; thank you @asia.cocktails! – but at least I managed to visit Speak Low bar. An excellent night.

But this article isn’t about Shanghai’s tourist attractions, it is about an organic beauty brand which I discovered quite by accident in a Watsons drugstore on Nanjing East Road (Pedestrian street ). Even more surprising was the fact that I knew the brand – Urtekram is one of THE best-known and oldest Danish organic beauty brands and they have a wide European distribution. However, it seems that Urtekram (or “Yatikelan”) also has a product portfolio of around 100 sku designed specifically for the Chinese market. Exciting stuff!

Essences, toners, lotions, BB creams, CUSHION FOUNDATIONS, men’s care; face masks – these are Asian formats and textures. None of these product ranges are available anywhere in Europe (or in East Asia either; at least I haven’t seen these products in any of the beauty stores I’ve visited in Tokyo, Taipei or Hong Kong). The ranges aren’t listed on Urtekram International’s website either.

I tried to contact Urtekram China through their official Shanghai address but didn’t get a response. I can’t read a word of Mandarin, unfortunately, and Google Translate doesn’t work so well with non-Western scripts, but I did my best to dig up some info for y’all. Keep in mind that most of this info is based on assumptions, conclusions, inferences and some creative lateral thinking.  If anyone of you kind readers out there can confirm or correct the facts or has additional info about Urtekram China, please let me know and I’ll update the article accordingly.

I also took a whole bunch of photographs (I think I spent almost an hour sitting in front of the product display; the sales assistants were starting to give me distinctly nervous glances) and I bought two of the hydrating toners which are SUPERB! Loving the textures.

Anyway, this is probably the longest teaser paragraph I’ve ever written for a trend-traveller article, so click on the link below for more info and pictures!

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