Working A Beauty Show, Come With Us | Behind-The-Scenes!

Trade shows are kind of a polarizing topic between brands and nail techs.

For brands, it’s a gamble. Attending a show as a brand is quite expensive, and attending a show often does not mean the brand will make sales break even for the day.

So the reasons brands attend are less about making money than networking. And so, brands need to wager the reason or reason(s) for attending. Is it brand awareness, meeting their supporters, or simply having a very pricey fun day because, at minimum, they are at least that… super fun!

For nail techs, nail shows can get old, especially once the nail tech has found its footing in the industry and has already settled with what brands they regularly use.

But seriously, if you bring the right guest or meet up with your gang at the show, you’ll have fun, no matter how many times you’ve attended. You can scoop up some serious deals if one of your favorite brands is there. One big benefit of attending is the show deals, which can often be the equivalent or even better than Black Friday.

I will always be down with attending a nail show. It is an event in our industry that only comes sometimes to a town near you, and also a great way to break the routine.

If you’re always doing nails, and your schedule is just eating, nails, sleeping, repeat… 5 days a week, please find some nail buddies and attend a trade show.

Or in my case, my work is 100% virtual, so it is healthy for me to attend a trade show.

So that is precisely what happened last week. Thanks to an invitation from our friends at Kokoist USA, I set out to attend the very popular ABS Chicago Trade Show, which was celebrating 100 years!

I KNOW- Imagine, some beauticians may have parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who’ve attended this show! Crazy thought.

And in today’s post, I’m taking you behind the scenes, from my camera-ready hair routine to the show floor.

Let’s dive in.

Although beauty trade shows are often for licensed professionals, you can often bring a guest. I once brought my hubby, another time I brought my mom and another time I even brought a fun client of mine! Yeah- if you don’t have to go alone, don’t. Bring some good company.

Whether you’ll be working a booth or just attending as a guest, getting ready is a special event.

How you would do your hair and nails and what outfit you will wear are all BIG questions.

Me, I knew my colleagues would be dressed super chill, so I kept it simple.

But it’s totally ok to go all out and style yourself to show off, pun intended.

Often I’m thrilled about doing my nails before an event, but not only did I run out of time to do them, I figured I may need them to demo something. So I didn’t stress. This was my nail situation.

Now my hair is something else. If nothing else gets show-ready… my hair definitely will.
And because a lot of you compliment my hair, I thought it would be the perfect time to show you how it gets done.

Mini hair tutorial

So if you don’t mind, I’ll start there.

To get my hair into big bouncy hair, I curl it.

First, I let my freshly washed hair get “dirty for a day or two.”

What shampoo or conditioner you use is not particularly important in my experience, so long as it is a professional salon shampoo and you wash it off sufficiently as to not leave a film behind on your hair.

Now, you don’t want to curl squeaky clean hair. It just will not hold the same as slightly dirty hair, which just means hair that has not been washed in a day or two.

For that first day or two, you also want to train your hair where it will ultimately set. Down the middle, to the side, etc., but most importantly, you want to start creating volume on the crown of your hair.

I do this by taking a hair clasp to hold a loose bun or just the top layers of my hair pinned up to create that volume.

Ok, so on that day or so that I’m waiting for my hair, I have to finish all of my work because even though I can work from anywhere, I prefer not.

It’s also time to pack! I’ll be packing for demonstrations and also, of course, just all your general traveling packing to-dos.

Here’s all that I’m bringing…

It’s the day before the show, so it’s time to get on the road. The travel time for this event is about 5 hours, or we could have flown and gotten here within an hour. Still, when you’re with your family, there are museums and Zoos to see, which, believe it or not, I really enjoy myself.
Maybe I just enjoy walking… I don’t know!

Back on the road, and we are with our friends… and oh boy, they are so given to hospitality here. I love them.

Conventions are often near hotels and offered at discounted prices, but this one was so close to our friends that it worked out perfectly.

It’s show day! And because I wanted my hair to be extra fresh… it’s also curling day!

Once the curling day comes around you, start meticulously working in sections. I’m using, I believe, a 2″ in diameter wand. You use whatever size depending on how tight you want your waves to be.

Currently, I don’t use any heat-protecting product on my hair. I typically only do this to my hair once weekly anyway, but I recently came across one that I liked. Maybe I’ll keep you posted if it’s a hit for me.

Curling the sections that will frame your face is nerve-racking because they make or break the entire finished look.

Once everything is curled, let your hair cool for about 5 minutes. Use a comb or brush with bristles that are not too close together to start combing through the first section of hair you finished, moving your way through the last section you worked on.

Run your fingers through your hair to finish it where you want it.

Last but certainly not least, sneak into your hubby’s hair gel to just ever so slightly pat some on those pesky flyaways.
And you’re done!


Time to get on the road and to the show!

Once at the show, if you’ve downloaded your ticket, you go straight to a show floor entrance and get scanned. Otherwise, you can always purchase tickets at the ticket booth on show day.I needed my phone for this part to get in, so sorry I couldn’t catch a clip for you.

We’re here. I’m super excited and nervous. I haven’t seen some colleagues in at least 5 years- eek!

Looking for the 900 blocks… took a detour, and there they were!

Couldn’t keep it together and lost my recording, but Katie had her camera rolling and caught the moment!

Katie and I are just talking about how much we can’t believe this is happening, so many years, and then 2020… She says she feels like we’ve survived a war.

I leave to put on my official Kokoist gear, and seriously in what seems like immediately, the booth starts getting busy and busier, and we’re all hands on deck.

Very quickly, if you want to try or restock your favorite Kokoist products don’t forget to add your PPN10 code at checkout for a 10% discount. They had some exciting new products that just launched 😉.

About 4 hours later, about one hour before the show closes, calm begins to set in, and I get a moment to post on social and just record some behind-the-scenes.

Overall, this show exceeded my expectations. I had plans to make the best of it by bringing you along with behind-the-scenes video and posting on Instagram, but that was nearly impossible until the last hour.

I hope you enjoyed this experience with me and will consider attending a trade show yourself as a tech or a tech’s guest. It is definitely an experience worth having.

Share your thoughts with me in the comments below. I look forward to reading them. I’ll see you next week, and bye for now.

Content written by Paola Ponce.

Loved this blog? Then I think you’ll love learning more about my journey as a specialized gel nail solopreneur in the nail industry. Click here to get instant access to my free masterclass. These blogs are copyrighted material, and any use of this blog is not permitted without written concern first. Some of these blogs contain affiliate links that give us a small commission when qualifying purchases are made. Thank you for being so supportive, which helps us to continue creating valuable resources and content like this.

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