Aly’s Adventures in Italy: Curating Beauty 

Aly's Adventures in Italy Curating Beauty

“You may have the world if I may have Italy.” This quote from Giuseppe Verdi says it best and at the end of March, off I went to Italy, to one of the world’s most stunning countries- for business. You heard that right. I wasn’t going there on vacation. The purpose of my trip was to attend Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna, one of the most influential global events in the world, dedicated to all facets of the beauty industry. 

I had four jam-packed days planned where I would be meeting with manufacturers, vendors, labs, chemists, and more to continue creating, crafting, designing, and producing my cosmetics and beauty line from our lifestyle and beauty company, Genuist Beauty. And as our name Genuist implies, our products are genuine, clean, effective, and easy to apply with packaging that is environmentally thoughtful too. 

Even better? Our products will do what we say they will do because, in a world overburdened with stuff and a beauty industry overwhelmed with products in pretty packaging that proffer limited results, I was heading off to Bologna with beauty in mind to bring my decades-long dream to life to create and curate clean beauty products in sustainable packaging for my clients around the world. 

Diamond Medallion Status Delta Airlines Atlanta 
to Italy

Itinerary of Intentionality

As I sat at the Atlanta airport readying myself for this trip, I knew it would be overwhelming if I didn’t have a plan going into this. With thousands of booths, pavilion upon pavilion, an inordinate number of products, a sea of people, and the backdrop of beautiful Bologna and Italy beckoning me to drop everything, go sightseeing, drink wine, and live la dolce vita, I could get easily lost in the lure of Italy and lose my focus at this United Nations of beauty events. After all, Cosmoprof Bologna routinely draws in 250,000 people a day from over 150 countries with over 3,000 global exhibitors in attendance. 

I had also been to this event before and back then I tried to hit as many booths as possible. I went to discover new labs and to begin the process of developing several new products and I discovered amazing brands with natural body care products, lotions and candles from France, Italy, and Portugal that we now carry at Authentic Beauty and in our online store. It was exhausting when all was said and done, and it reminded me of one of my first trips to Europe where I tried to see as many countries as I could in a limited amount of time. That was quantity over quality travel and an exhausting whirlwind of adventure I had done before. 

This time around, I was here to savor my experiences, localize, and focus. And I created an itinerary of intentionality with the goal to make relationships, network, and find the right manufacturers, chemists, and packaging companies in the world to make my products. Each day, I had interviews lined up with some of the highest-end labs in Europe presenting their products to me and I would be meeting with manufacturers who create packaging for beauty products for some of the world’s top brands. The European market is so advanced because they take a keen eye toward clean ingredients and sustainable packaging in a forward and mindful way.

Diamond Doesn’t Disappoint: Luxury at High Altitude

Diamond Medallion Status Delta

As you may recall from my adventures and misadventures in Paris at the end of 2022, I had been recently upgraded to Diamond Medallion status with Delta Airlines and on this trip, I wanted to see if all the hype of this travel benefit was worth it. I booked my flight to Italy with a connection in Paris and then a quick change of planes there and then I would be off to Bologna. I paid for a Delta Comfort seat, and I was upgraded to a Delta One seat to my surprise. That started my trip off with a bang because I would be able to sleep in a spacious lie-flat seat. 

The Whimsy in Missed Connections

My first flight from Atlanta to Paris was relaxing and hopeful. I would switch planes in Paris for a flight bound for Bologna which would have me at the event by 10 am the next day. When we landed in Paris, my next flight scheduled to Bologna was delayed and I missed my connection. Then, Delta rerouted me on a flight to Germany that would then get me back to Bologna by 10 pm but then I would miss an entire day of this important event. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. What did Paris teach me about setbacks? I reminded myself that part of the learning curve from Paris was to get better at rolling with disappointments. Ok Universe, Bring it!

A Route of Reflections

Instead of taking the rerouted flight to Germany, I found a different flight to Milan and then decided to take a train to Bologna. This would get me to the event by 2 pm and give me half a day instead of missing the entire thing. With an attitude of expectation and gratitude, I got ready on the train and changed into my suit in the bathroom. Once I was ready, I had some time to reflect, and I realized I had been looking at things with too big of a picture in mind for so long and that can make you lose focus. 

It is kind of like FOMO where we wonder if we are missing things even while we are in the midst of something, as opposed to being fully present in the moment. The missed flight could have put such a cloud over my day but booking that train to Bologna was a huge lesson for me and it allowed me to adjust my attitude, mindset, and focus. I also marveled at the thought that it takes 9 months to a year to bring one clean beauty product in cleaner packaging to market, and I did not have a moment to waste. 

Because I couldn’t see everything I wanted to see at Cosmoprof Bologna this year, I could make my appointments and meet with some of the greatest labs in the world making clean, gorgeous formulas. I set out in my career to make makeup applications easier and now here I was in Italy to make products that are of the best quality. Genuist Beauty is all about simple, easy, elegant, and effective makeup with clean formulas, that comes in clean packaging and are products that live up to the message on the label. 

As the train passed by idyllic towns and picture postcard-perfect views, I was once again reminded that no matter the diversions or the circuitous routes I was on, literally and figuratively, I decided to have the attitude that everything is perfect as it is and that things would work out on this trip. So, I did as Tony Robbins said to do and I traded in my expectations for appreciation, because where focus goes, energy flows

A few hours later, I made it to Cosmoprof. As I said before, this wasn’t my first rodeo here, and I visited the people I needed to see that day. Later, I had dinner plans that night with an old friend, Goncalo, whom I had met a few years prior, and we had so much fun that we shut the restaurant down. See the video here.  

Alyson Howard-Hoag from Authentic Beauty and Genuist Beauty attends  Cosmoprof 2023 in  Bologna

Beautiful Bologna & the Room with the View

Then, I checked into my Airbnb. My room was on the fifth floor, replete with one of the most incredible views overlooking the Piazza di Porta Ravegnana, the legendary two towers of Asinelli and Garisenda, and the University of Bologna, one of the oldest in the world. 

On Friday morning, I did a quick five-minute makeup tutorial from my terrace and then I was off to the event once more for meetings all day. I was committed to meeting with the labs and makers of makeup with the cleanest formulas that lived up to their hype. Some of them I had met last year, and I met others whilst in Los Angeles. These were top-secret labs making the top brands. Of course, we are tweaking and customizing many of these formulas, so meeting with these chemists was integral to ensuring that the quality is there. So much of the makeup that is out there in the marketplace is one-size-fits-all in the worst ways. My goal is to create makeup that fits our brand and our vision of beauty with a clean conscience that is also effective, beautiful, clean, and easy to apply. 

Finding Calm in the Chaos

sustainable makeup packaging at Cosmoprof Bologna

How do you navigate through thousands of brands of makeup that have big brand advertising noise? Fortunately, I have worked in the beauty industry for years. I have worked with thousands of faces, and I can easily discern if a formula works or doesn’t work. While an artist may have many different canvases to work on, my canvas is a person’s face, and with makeup, I have a vision for our brand which is that I am trying to use as little product as possible in as little time as possible, so it becomes really easy for a person to use our products. And that means lots of practice and play so that this brand works for women of all ages from 15 to 100.

My products must cross time and ages, as well as textures and skin types, and also be easy to use. Having touched the faces of over 100k people in my lifetime, I can look at the textures of certain products and see what it can do and won’t do after a few minutes or an hour or more of wear.  That’s why meeting with these chemists to articulate our vision, our client’s needs, and the ways these formulas were great and ways they needed to be improved upon was important. 

And I did that for the lion’s share of Friday. 

parmesan mousse Bologna

The day ended with a meeting with the South Korean company we hired that is creating our packaging for the Roller Brow. I got to hold the Roller Brow vial in my hands, and it is now on its way to get filled with our brow-enhancing serum here in the U.S. See the video here. That means we are mere months away from releasing our first makeup product to you from Genuist Beauty called Roller Brow and the results, let me tell you, are astounding.  If you want to be the first to know when Roller Brow will go on sale, subscribe here to get the latest updates from us. 

When in Italy…

Then, I went to dinner with people from the number one makeup lab in Milan, and they turned me on to parmesan mousse. Sounds odd but when three Italians order the same thing as an appetizer? You don’t question what it is. You order the parmesan mousse and let’s just say that for the remainder of my time in Italy, I ordered that very thing every night. The rest of my Friday night was punctuated by an incredible lasagna, beautiful red wine, and conversation that flowed and sated me beyond words.  

On Saturday, I went to more meetings, and by the end of the day, I was exhausted yet satisfied with all I had accomplished and learned. I made more friends and ran into old ones from years past, and I ran into a woman I had met the year prior, a beauty from Morocco, who is part of this wonderful global beauty community I am also a part of. She’s a beauty distributor and we met last year when we were both dining alone. We easily struck up a conversation and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. That Saturday night, we went to dinner with one of her friends. We had an espresso martini made with tequila. We feasted on classic Italian fare, and I met up with some of my Portuguese friends after that. We had more food, lots of limoncellos and we ended up at an Irish pub to close the night down. Sunday morning, I said my goodbyes to beautiful Bologna, and I headed to the train station headed for Florence….

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Aly’s Adventures in Italy next week.

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