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What is CPNA and can I go too?

Okay. I don't do many non-polish posts. But I thought it would be fun to do something part informative and part ridiculous to start off your week. I've covered Cosmoprof North America (CPNA) in several posts, but nowhere have I explained who can go and how it all goes down during the event. So here you can get the chronological backstory of my four full days in Las Vegas from start to finish...beginning with how I got a press pass to packing up on the last day. I'm warning you - this post gets goofy. If you're interested, keep reading...if you want more of the hard hitting polish coverage - see my previous posts on polish, gel and extended wear systems and indie makers.

CPNA 2014
Warning! This is not my typical post. :P [Photo from 2014 CPNA Campaign]
CPNA is held every July at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. This is not a cash-and-carry beauty show - meaning there's nothing available for purchase in the booths. Instead, it's a strictly business-to-business event (the largest in North America, in fact). To attend, you must be an exhibitor, manufacturer, distributor, licensed professional or a member of the press.

Entering the CPNA show floor from the registration entrance.
Entering the CPNA show floor from the registration entrance.
If you're a blogger and you're interested in covering the event, then you must complete a media application that usually becomes available a month or so before the show. Once your credentials are confirmed, you're given a badge that gives you access to the exhibition and many associated events. I believe qualifying for a press pass entails consistent, quality posting of relevant subject matter and a solid readership base, but the specific criteria aren't listed. It's my understanding that not everyone who applies gets one, however I don't know anyone first-hand who has been denied. I imagine that as the event continues to gain traction among bloggers, the criteria for getting a press pass may be more discriminatory in the future (after all, last I read, there were over 30,000 nail blogs!)  Time will tell. Since I'm a licensed nail tech, I have the option of going as a regular attendee, as well. If you're an indie brand, then you simply register as a manufacturer. Here's my badge (and my mani from the first night!)

My press badge and first mani of the show
My nails match my shirt...this becomes important later. :)
This year I roomed with Krystal of Polish Galore and Judy of Beauty Judy. These gals are CPNA veterans (and some of my fave people ever). I was super excited to finally meet Sarah of Chalkboard Nails, especially since we've been doing The Lacquer Legion together. She came up to our room while she was waiting for her room to be ready and she and I yelled like ridiculous school girls (well, I did anyway). It truly is a blogger mega-reunion! [NOTE: I know the photo below looks totally legit, but it's actually a very high quality digital re-enactment of the moment Sarah and I met.]

High quality digital re-enactment of the moment Chalkboard Nails and I met.
Sarah dared me to make this.
Saturday night there was a VIP reception for invited guests. I was fortunate to get an invite with Krystal and Judy. The show's leadership addressed the small crowd with stats for the coming event and we mingled with hor d'oeuvres and drinks. Here I first met Hannah of The Dalai Lama's Nails. (She said she recognized me by my shirt - which I said matched my nails...which I'd posted on IG. LOL) Hannah was there covering the show as an official Trend Scout. Jan Arnold of CND showed up as we were leaving but I was too chicken to introduce myself. Maybe next year! At this point, I'd been awake about 19 hours (on two hours of sleep the night before) - but adrenaline was high, so I went with it.

Hannah and Me
Me and Hannah from The Dalai Lama's Nails
After that reception, we headed to the Get Together Party. Any attendee can go (with a ticket) and eat good food and mingle with other attendees and exhibitors. I didn't go last year - so it was fun to check it out. This was surreal. I met many bloggers for the first time...too many to list! You can see many of them in my indie post. I was a bad blogger and hardly took any photos at these two events! Here's a badly lit cell phone shot of Judy and me.

Me and Judy from Beauty Judy
Me and Judy from Beauty Judy
The night wasn't over. Afterwards, we headed to party #3 at the PRESS Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel (which is part of the Mandalay property) for the Shine & Social event hosted by SuperChic Lacquer. Here I met lots of indies for the first time...including Jill of Glisten & Glow. I'm a big fan of HK Girl, so that was cool! Jill is a total and complete hoot! I also met Jen from The Jedi Wife. She's been in a FB group with me for a while and it was great to meet her in person.

Me posing like a bird in the birdcage chairs at the PRESS Lounge....this is what happens when you haven't slept for 23 hours.
Me posing like a bird in the birdcage chairs at the PRESS Lounge....this is what happens when you haven't slept for 23 hours.
The next morning was the first day of the show. Media have access to the press room where there are couches, coffee, places to organize your coverage and recharge your phones. The show opens at 10am each day, but I was usually in the press room by 9am to eat breakfast and review my daily game plan. Most bloggers schedule appointments with the brands they want to cover. At these appointments, a brand rep takes you through the upcoming collections. Only press are allowed to take photographs and it's important to ask first...there are many things that are on embargo until a future date. The show is not for the faint of heart. You are seriously running for 6-7 hours straight, taking notes and pics and trying to fit it all in. Below is a pic in the press room. (It was taken on the final day, so we're a little more casual than we were on days one and two because we had all finished our official appointments.)

CPNA Press Room
In the press room (Clockwise from left) Judy from Beauty Judy, Andrea from Chickettes, Sarah from Chalkboard Nails, Katy from Nailed It, Me, Krystal from Polish Galore, and the world's largest croissant
I mentioned this in my gel post, but as soon as the show floor opened on the first day, I made a beeline to the Young Nails booth for an appointment to get a demo of their brand new extended wear polish line called Caption. As a licensed tech, I was so excited to meet Greg Salo! I'm modeling my Caption mani (which I subsequently destroyed when I reached into my bag immediately after leaving the booth! I was crushed.)

Young Nails Greg Salo
Greg Salo, President of Young Nails after my Caption Manicure
If you don't recognize Greg, he might look more familiar here. He's typically featured in action shots in Young Nails ads like the one below. He definitely has the same high energy in person. BTW...Caption was the epic product mentioned in the ad.

I'm used to seeing Greg Salo like this.
I'm used to seeing Greg Salo of Young Nails like this instead.
If you ever go, comfortable shoes are probably the single most important tip for the event. There is sooooo much walking involved. The first year I wore a pedometer and easily walked 10 miles each day. I got to road test my new Tieks. I'm so enamored with them that I'm going to write a review (coming soon posted here). And while everyone has visions of leisurely perusing each of the exhibitors (over 900!)...there's never enough time for everything and you are constantly racing around like a crazy person. Here's a diagram of the show floor.

The show floor....every single box is a booth!
The show floor....every single box is a booth! To see everything, you would have to visit a booth every 1 and 1/2 minutes non-stop for the 16 hours the show floor is open for exhibition
My dear friend Alanna from the Polished Girlz was there to write a trend piece for NailIt!/NAILPRO (you go girl!). Even though we live in the same town, we don't see each other as often as I'd like. She, her mom and I got to hang out this trip. On the first day, we went to the Essie booth together and I'll tell you, Alanna is mature beyond her years. I could learn a thing or two from her. She's a pro!

Alanna
Alanna, founder of the Polished Girlz, goofing off in front of the Unwash herd. Alanna's mom and I forced her to pose for a 100 pics. LOL
After a long first day at the exhibition, I raced back to the room to get ready for the Sparkle & Wine event, which I covered in my indie post. If you have a bucket list of indies to meet - you could have knocked it out in one fell swoop!

sparkle & wine

I left Sparkle and Wine and headed to the Border Grille for Margaritas & Manicures. This mixer was sponsored by Nail It! and NAILPRO and was hosted by Katie Cazorla. I've learned so much from these gals.

margaritas&manicures
L-R: Karie Frost, Beauty Director of Nail It! Magazine; Me; Katie Cazorla; Stephanie Lavery, Editor of Nail It! Magazine and NAILPRO Magazine
Katie Cazorla. Love her to pieces. Alanna was at the party also and we oooh'd and ahhh'd over Katie's Louboutins. I'm not ashamed. Nope. Katie took them off and handed them to me to wear (we're the same size). Um...awesome!  I posed for pics. I needed to memorialize the moment because the soonest I can afford a pair will be after my daughter is graduated from college, married, I win the lottery, etc, etc.  I'll spare you the modeling pics! No one wants to see an aging nail blogger modeling shoes! LOL.

Alanna and I spent some quality time with Katie Cazorla's shoes....no shame in our game
Alanna and I spent some quality time with Katie Cazorla's shoes....no shame in our game
We got to see some new goodies from Katie. Her coolest invention? A clear nail wrap that will be a lifesaver for swatching! This is seriously genius! You smooth on a microfilm and file off the excess (just like with a traditional wrap). Then swatch as usual and simply peel it off when finished. Why didn't I think of this!? See a quick video of the project in action on The Painted Nail Facebook. She is also launching Sparkles for glitter dipped manis that you coat with her Nail Gelli and cure for lasting bling!

New goodies from Katie Cazorla (I'm getting a Sparkles accent finger in the inset).
New goodies from Katie Cazorla (I'm getting a Sparkles accent finger in the inset).
At the same party, I had the opportunity to talk to Deborah Carver. She's the CEO of Creative Age (publisher of NAILPRO, NailIt! Magazine, Launchpad and others). She has a great story and is so ambitious. I love talking with ambitious women...it gets me motivated. She's been in the business over 45 years. Doesn't she look amazing? If only I can be so lucky!

Deborah Carver, CEO of Creative Age Publications (Publisher of Nail It!, NAILPRO and more) and me
Deborah Carver, CEO of Creative Age Publications (Publisher of Nail It!, NAILPRO and more) and me
I also got to talk to Naja Rickette, celebrity manicurist, about a new venture she's launching to support licensed techs in running their business. I'll write more on that later too. It sounds really exciting! Because I've been a working tech and I have a business degree - this is something that I'm passionate about as well. (Plus she's so fun and is a huge supporter of the Polished Girlz so I love her automatically!) (Excuse the blurry cell pic.)

Me and Naja Rickettes, Celeb Manicurist and World Record Holder
Me and Naja Rickettes, Celeb Manicurist and World Record Holder
After this marathon night, we headed back to the room and slept for a few hours (it felt like it anyway) before day two full of appointments! On this day, I met with Orly, Red Carpet Manicure, Morgan Taylor, Gelish, China Glaze, Seche, Salon Perfect (and the other AII product lines), and Jessica Cosmetics. Melissa of The Daily Nail and I visited Boutique too. This is an onsite sampling bar. For a small donation, you get to choose a variety of nice-sized samples. I got some cool stuff. See those bins? You grab product from the bottom. One of the bins had several varieties of the same product line and Melissa wanted something at the very top. LOL. We just went for it and kept pulling out bottles until she reached what she wanted. So funny. (Course, we coordinated with the Boutique folks and didn't leave our mess.)

Beautique Sampling Bar
Boutique Sampling Bar (Photo courtesy of Model City Polish)
After the show, several of us bloggers raced to get ready and meet Jesse's Girl Cosmetics for the Michael Jackson ONE Cirque du Soleil show. This was a trip highlight! Jesse's Girl is so amazing to bloggers. And I finally got to meet everyone I'd been working with at the company IN PERSON! (Shout out to Cathy and Christine!!)

Michael Jackson Cirque
Outside the Michael Jackson Cirque Du Soleil Show. A treat from Jesse's Girl Cosmetics!
We had the entire second row. Jesse is taking this shot. If you start from far to near, the bloggers you're seeing are: Jeanie (Midnight Manicures), Me!, Judy (Beauty Judy), Krystal (Polish Galore), Christine (from Jesse's Girl), Melissa (The Daily Nail), Claudia (Chromatic Misadventures), Sarah (Chalkboard Nails), Hannah (The Dalai Lama's Nails) and Julie (JulieG). Let me tell you, this show was crazy awesome and the entire time I just kept thinking to myself "How did I get here?" It was almost an emotional experience to think where my li'l ole blog has taken me. My spray tan is wearing off at this point. I look like a ghost! LOL.

Waiting for the show to start!
Waiting for the show to start!
After the show, a few of us headed to Battista's Hole in the Wall for dinner. Last year at CPNA, Jesse took Judy, Krystal and me to dinner here. I wish I'd taken some pics. I laughed so hard the entire meal. I was the old lady of the group...but you wouldn't have known it!

Battista's Hole in the Wall...where inside jokes were born [Photo courtesy of Haleys Mom on Vegas]
Battista's Hole in the Wall...where inside jokes were born [Photo courtesy of Haleys Mom on Vegas]
We came back to the hotel exhausted and woke up early for day three. Most of us used this day to visit the remaining booths on our to-do lists. I stopped by Zoya, Cuccio, Bernadette, Impala, Light Elegance, Color Club and Ruby Wing. I also swung through the packaging area because I like to look at polish bottles like a lacquer nerd.

Color Club/Ruby Wing Booth
Color Club/Ruby Wing Booth
We headed back to the room to get packed up. The show isn't about samples for me - it's about information. (And frankly, if you're seriously considering going, the freebies shouldn't even make your list of reasons). But as press, many booths will give you product to try. Also, the indies were very, very generous. I took this pic after day two. But by day three, I had enough stuff to ship a 40 pound box home via FedEx.

I left Dayton with my suitcase at MAX weight...poor planning on my part.
I left Dayton with my suitcase at MAX weight...poor planning on my part.
After we packed everything up, we waited for Barbra of I Love Nail Polish (ILNP) to come over. (She lives in Vegas). I love her and I was so excited to see her again. In fact, I lost my mind so much that I didn't take a single pic with her this year! A bunch of us met Christy of KBShimmer in the casino to head to dinner. Before we set off, Sarah and I tried our luck at a ginormous slot machine. This photo isn't staged at all. I swear. And I realize our expressions look eerily similar the pic of us meeting for the first time at the beginning of the post - but that's purely coincidence. :P

Chalkboard Nails and I pretending like we'd hit it big. Someone on IG commented that we looked like our nails were wet! LOL!
Chalkboard Nails and I pretending like we'd hit it big. Someone on IG commented that we looked like our nails were wet! LOL!
After a delicious dinner at The Bellagio's buffet, we came back to the Mandalay and decided we just couldn't come to Vegas and not gamble. Krystal was the clear winner of our group. Sarah and I watched as she turned her $20 bucks into $100's. Then Sarah and I turned our $20 "buckses" (plural) into zero bucks. I went to bed at 3am and had to be up at 4:15 for my flight home. But it was worth it. I miss everyone already, but especially Krystal, Judy, Melissa and Sarah...my partners in crime for the week. :)

At home, the second wave of work hits. Links to all of your press coverage must be sent back to the show's PR...so there's no rest for the weary! Now it's time to edit photos, transcribe recordings, decipher notes, write posts and send emails to new contacts. It was definitely a whirlwind four days. Action packed. But I'd do it all over again...and I will. :)