‘Fun and fabulous’: step inside Comic-Con for beauty
Speaking to the crowd lined up ahead of doors opening on Saturday morning, many had travelled from interstate to attend, some even from overseas.
Uruguayan makeup artist Pao Cid was first in line on Saturday, securing her spot at 9am (doors opened at 11am).
“I just came for the event,” she said. Cid, who will also attend on Sunday, heard about Meccaland online.
Cid was most excited to see makeup artists Mia Connor (“I have a one on one Masterclass with Mia Connor, I love her”) and Emma Chen.
In the line from 9:20 were Bondi year 9 students Rachel Machlin and Jamie Karpers, both adorned with glitter cheeks. They paid $69 for their tickets (a one-session pass: for $149, attendees could receive unlimited access to sessions, as well as makeup “masterclasses”).
“It looks like such an amazing experience,” said Karpers as she waited in the “hype tunnel” – tunnel of lights and club music that served as a holding pen before the streamer-lined doors to the (at times over-stimulating) convention opened.
“Now that it’s here, I’m so excited.”
The friends heard about Meccaland through in-store advertising, but they were most excited to see their favourite Instagram influencers.
Meccaland hosts stands and “activations” from 40 brands stocked in Mecca and masterclasses with makeup artists, celebrities and Youtube influencers, including Lara Worthington, Chloe Morello, Elle Ferguson and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Jo Horgan, founder of Mecca Cosmetica, said the idea came out of thinking of ways to thank Mecca’s customers as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations last year.
“It wasn’t born out of what can we get as a business,” she said.
“It comes from the idea of giving brands complete freedom, giving customers a totally different experience and wrapping that up in a massive party or beauty festival.”
For Horgan, social media has transformed the beauty industry.
“Digital – more specifically the social platforms have been the greatest gift to beauty, because I feel that everybody can express themselves … there are so many communities that have mushroomed up,” she said, adding that she believed the in-person aspect allowed her customers to be educated about the products.
“Education leads to empowerment, leads to confidence, [which] leads to what beauty is always meant to be: fun and fabulous.”
Former Cosmopolitan beauty editor turned skincare mogul Zoë Foster Blake, whose Go-To skincare range is sold in Mecca, said the event was a “lovely touchpoint” for people to see and play with her products.
Manning her stand, which featured a selfie-ready giant novelty bath, she said the beauty industry has seen a shift towards “best friend marketing” in recent years.
“I love the democracy of beauty, it used to be us beauty editors saying ‘do this’, ‘try that’. Now it’s in the hands of the people who keep us accountable and answerable and [brands are] listening,” she said.
“There’s this feminist world where girls can make a living doing beauty tutorials in their bedroom, and a swell of makeup and women and fun and education, it’s amazing, I’m stunned by it.”
Personal grooming is big business. IBISWorld predicts the Australian hair and beauty industry will be worth $6.5 billion by the end of this financial year.
Retail trends forecaster Brian Walker, CEO of Retail Doctor Group, said an event like Meccaland is less about selling products to the people at the event, and more about reaching those attendees’ social media followers.
“Particularly in Mecca’s core market, youth through middle age… they are constantly connected to social media and, through that, influencers, brands, inspiration, and also status.”
Annie Brown is a lifestyle writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Mary Ward is Deputy Lifestyle Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.