ABA Canada: Meet The Future of the Canadian Beauty Industry

ABA Canada is a community-focused association dedicated to supporting and educating Beauty Professionals across Canada through educational events, competitions, and online/on-demand content. They are about to host two of their major events: Revel in Beauty and The World of Beauty. A deep look into this versatile organization with Mr. Alain Audet, Executive Director of ABA Canada.

The Allied Beauty Association (ABA) Canada is a non-profit membership organization that has been founded 85 years ago now. How would you say ABA Canada, as well as the industry, has evolved through time?

Originally, ABA Canada has been founded by a group of distributors 85 years ago. In the 50s, they asked manufacturers and associate companies to join. So over the years, it grew to be representing about 80% of the professional beauty industry. At first, we were only focusing on hair but for the last 20 years or so, we added skincare and nailcare companies. Nowadays, the organization represents the overall beauty professional industry: hairdressers, colorists, barbers, makeups artists, estheticians and any type of technicians in esthetics with electronic equipment (lasers, LED lights, etc.) We represent all those professionals, as well as the distributors and the manufacturers of the products that they use.

ABA Canada is the only national Canadian association working for beauty professionals. What would you say are the advantages and, on the other hand, the challenges to own this title? 

Being the only National association means that we are putting together companies, distributors and manufacturers from all across the country, and, understanding there is always more and more distributorship, especially that are national or would include multiple provinces.

We cross provincial borders giving us a united voice to be able to speak at different levels, especially when it comes to federal organizations like Health Canada that have advertising standards. This is where one National association is very important. Also, understanding the differences between a province and another is necessary to be able to help different organizations understand what is happening in the other provinces, when it’s right to make some changes or to amend some rules. We are becoming really a permission source for the local, the regional or the national governments. 

The industry is wide and moves fast. Do you have any influences or partners out of Canada? How do you ensure the organization is keeping the pace?

We are partnering with a few organizations – three that we work with the most:

  • The Cosmetics Alliance, another association that represents the beauty industry in Canada – but the beauty companies that are selling in a drugstore and in a department store, like L’Oréal that will have a professional division as well as a public division. 
  • The North American association called the ICMDA (Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors Association) based in the US. Many of our small manufacturers and distributors are also members there because they want to make sure their product can cross borders considering packaging, environmental issues, legal issues that vary from a province to another, from a state to another.
  • The Professional Beauty Association (PBA), an association that is very similar to ours. They do trade shows as well, they do award ceremonies, they have a membership system that is similar to ours and they are American. So we work with them on many projects. 

You organize the Largest Canadian Professional Beauty Show: Revel in Beauty. Through this exhibition, we can expect beauty competitions, workshops, and product showcases. Can you tell us more about this event?

Today in the industry, people are getting more and more independent. 65 to 75% of the workers are independent workers, chair renters, boot renters, so they are feeling more and more lonely, even though there is more and more online presence. It is important to create social spaces to gather people and also to find new projects, new products, new technologies, also to meet and greet with influencers, educators, demonstrators and learn first hand and not only rely on videos or on social media to figure out what’s happening in the world. The trend is more interactive right now like anything that has to do with trade shows like the Comicons of this world or think of C2 in Montreal. 

There is more stuff going on at the same time: multiple stages, we have learning lounges which focus on business personal development. We have a competition stage where we run this year 11 competitions over two days. It’s a non-stop competition – one after the other – men’s cutting, women’s cuttings, color, nails, and make-up. And we have the main stage where we have 18 different segments, different artists presenting a 45 minutes mainstage presentation. It goes from artistic presentation to some more high-end education. Then we have one floor of the convention center where we have 12 classrooms set up for free education look-and-learns, hands-on education, again in hair, barbering, nails, make-up, social media, business… And on the show floor, we have 150 exhibitors, 45 000 square feet of boots. 

We have been growing for the last three years, so this year we expect to get at least 10 000 to hopefully 12 000 attendees. The event takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, South Building, on Sunday, April 5th and 6th.

ABA Canada is much more than beauty competitions. It is also a community. How would you say your community contributes to the future of the industry?

We are working on some projects. For instance, we have just launched an online activation called Beauty Under 40 to identify the leaders of tomorrow. We have identified 100 professionals that are less than 40 years old and nominated them in five different categories:

  • Artistry: people who are known for their artistic talent – won a competition of sort, either Revel or the magazines, photos or videos competitions around the world;
  • Community: people having some impact in their community – either because of their sustainable business, their inclusiveness, or anything that has to do with ecology or community within giving back;
  • Business: business development, coaches, people taking over a business, manufacturers, product creators, tools technology creators;
  • Education: people who are doing classes, educating online or in class.
  • Digital: people creating for themselves an online presence (YouTube videos, social media platforms, etc.)

We are working on an awards ceremony coming up soon where we will identify the one person for this year and our hope is this project will become an annual award event. 

Also, since we are an association, we have membership benefits for professionals. A 50$/year membership that gives access to a dozen different benefits, including insurance and marking support. Any of the professional can join, and businesses as well.

To get more information about ABA Canada, their events, and everything they do, visit www.abacanada.com.

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