San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Local trade fair helps beauty business boom

Last week, Costa Rica hosted the eighth annual Aesthetics, Style and Cosmetics Congress, and more than 400 visitors showed up. The event was held Sept. 18-19 at the Hotel Crowne Plaza Corobicí in San José.

On Monday afternoon, hundreds of people, mostly women, moved like an army of ants from one stand to the other in the search for the newest and most innovative cosmetic technology and beauty techniques. Business owners attending said the event was successful because of the large turnout.

The beauty business is quickly becoming one of Costa Rica’s most lucrative niche industries. From San José to San Carlos, walk into any urban mall and hair and nail salons abound. In the Central Valley, as the popularity of beauty spas increases, businesses compete to have the most up-to-date equipment and treatments.

Patricia Durant, a longtime resident from Colombia, said that eight years ago, Costa Rica’s beauty industry already had commercial potential. The annual beauty congress was created to promote that potential.

“We started as a small event, and today we have grown to be the most important congress for Central America. We have visitors from more than 10 countries who show what the latest beauty trends in the world are,” she said.

The two-day congress featured more than 50 booths offering new nail techniques, hair extensions, weight loss spas and more. Networking was key.

Costa Rican company Import Nails has had a booth at the congress for the past three years. According to owner Gretel Chacón, the event has substantially helped her promote her business. “Every year, I go back with a new portfolio of clients and contacts,” Chacón said.

Most of Chacón’s new clients are new beauty salon owners who attend the congress each year to meet distributors. Import Nails has seen its client base increase by 20 customers each year thanks to the congress, Chacón said. “It is a great opportunity to promote our products,” she added.

Chacón said her business is successful because it is innovative. While many local nail companies sell their wares at the expo, Import Nails’ bright colors and unique textures drew plenty of curious onlookers at this year’s event.

Potential customers were offered funky manicures at discounted prices. Over the two-day period, eight nail stylists worked nearly non-stop at the Import Nails booth.

When Chacón started her business four years ago, she worked from home with three employees. Today, her staff totals 17. Her client portfolio includes more than 1,500 beauty salons across the country.

“I truly believe that if you bring a new product to the table, you will find success. It is a growing sector with endless possibilities where people are always looking for the newest trend and most original materials and designs,” Chacón said.

For event organizer Patricia Durant, the next step in the process is to organize all the beauty business segments into one professional association. “We need to be able to have statistics on the number of new businesses that are being created every year. We need to be able to position the sector as a source of employment and determine the areas that need more investment and the ones that can keep growing,” Durant said.

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