Recently I got an email from Sephora about a VIB event in my area-not a free one, unfortunately. Sephora knows better. This event cost 500 points (aka $500) and we were promised amazing things; a Sephora gift card, a gift bag full of freebies, a fun experience for me and a friend (my mom)- I'd say that's better than 99% of the 500 point perks on Sephora's website right now, which led me to ultimately decide that this event was the best way to spend my points. Because it doesn't look like anything better will be coming out in the near future (and even if it does, how do we know it won't be another Epic Rewards fail?). So I took the plunge, and now I'm going to go back and break down the experience for you and try to put a cash value to a priceless experience. Classic Lauren.
This event was hosted by The Smooth Lines Salon (pictured above), Bumble and Bumble, Sephora and Bobbi Brown. We got there right at 11:00 when it opened (because that's the time slot we signed up for), we were checked in via iPad and immediately signed up for the raffle (I'm not even sure what the raffle prizes were, there was no prize table, and I could never hear what was being won). Getting there right at 11 might have been a mistake. It was so crowded, there were probably 50 people there before us, and we had to wait an hour in a loud crowded area to get called back. We were assigned to group five (each group probably had 8-12 people in it), so as groups 1-4 got called, we walked around outside for 30 minutes, missing raffle prizes and mimosas because it was so crowded and loud.
The snack layout was kind of depressing. I felt like little effort was put in on the food front. A lot of pictures I've seen of similar B&B/Sephora events were infinitely nicer-you know glassware, silverware, platters and cake stands full of elaborate foods. I think that has to do with the individual stores, and this event's food layout looked like some sad PTA meeting. This spread was small, half eaten when we got there, and the fact that piles of sliced meat were just sitting in a hot room was hugely unappealing to me and quite frankly very gross.
As for the drinks, I had orange juice, my mom had a mimosa, and Decker had some water with coconuts in it (pictured above). My mom said the mimosa was okay, my only complaint was the plastic cups and small servings. I probably got 3 oz of orange juice. Yes, I could have asked for more but it was a hassle, I had a giant dog with me that made it difficult to maneuver through crowds, and I didn't want to bother the poor lady serving drinks every two seconds.
I must say that the drink table looked much nicer than the food table. Sure, I would have loved glassware, but that's just me nitpicking. This table was nice.
The email promised mini facials, makeup application, dry hair styling, and more. However, the line for makeup was quite long, there were only a few artists, and it was not moving quickly. We opted out of makeovers because we ran out of time. My mom had really wanted to get a facial, but did not really care about getting her makeup done, and then we found out that there was only one station for both. This salon has a lot of little rooms, they could have split up mini-facials into another room.
Here you can kind of see how crowded it was. These pictures don't really do it justice. Especially because a lot of people were waiting outside, and all the walkways were unbelievably small. Imagine trying to walk straight across the room pictured above with a big dog in hand (or even a big purse). What if I were in a wheelchair? Not only is this is terrible architectural design, but also awful planning. What a mess.
Some signage might also have been nice. The line for makeup and the area where they did the makeovers were separated by a doorway, so it didn't look like much of a line at all. I would have greatly appreciated someone or some sign saying "if you want a makeover, get in line here." They assumed everyone wanted their hair done, but the makeup was barely mentioned. If they told us that makeovers were open via microphone, then I definitely missed it. The makeup was not regulated at all by time or group number, so we waited an hour outside while the groups filed through, when we could have been standing in line for makeovers (not really, my hips can't handle that much standing). Because no one really talked to us, I didn't know that the people in the makeup corner were part of the event. I thought maybe those were paying clients getting their makeup done. They were also taking their sweet time on each client (it is an art form I suppose) but it just didn't seem right. I've been to this salon before, the corner where 5 people were getting their makeup done is where one person normally sits. That was 10 people in a 3x3 (if that) area.
Then we each got about 5 minutes in the chair, where we were asked what our hair-problems were, and subsequently offered B&B products. I don't mind being sold products, as I am a product junkie, but I just felt kind of cheated. (Having been a beauty insider at Sephora for as long as I have, I should be used to this feeling by now, but alas I am not.) I saw some girls get their hair curled and braided into a sweet updo, and I just don't understand how that happened in 5 minutes? I was sprayed down with B&B products and blow dried half-way. I was never asked what I wanted. My mom had a similar experience.
HOWEVER, I loved my stylist. He was amazingly nice. I have nothing against Charles, or this salon, just the poor planning that went into this event.
All the mirrors had the hashtags for the event written on them.
Once I saw this sign, I realized what this event was all about: getting clients for Smooth Lines and selling B&B products. For Sephora it's never just about making your customers amazingly happy. It's about four companies mutually benefiting from each other. Smooth lines, Bumble and Bumble, and Bobbi Brown got advertising. Smooth lines was able to get new clients, Bumble and Bumble got consumers to try/buy their products, and Bobbi Brown got fairly good advertising. Financially, it is smart that Sephora does this, but at the same time, I'm tired of Sephora acting like they're the best, and then just apologizing when they mess up or show their true hand (i.e. the Sephora Play! Box just being a way to make money off of samples that used to be free with in-store purchase). Reluctantly, I made an appointment for a haircut, because one, I couldn't pass up a $15 off coupon, and I really did like my stylist Charles, despite not loving the event or lack of care that went into logistics.
This is me after the event with my goodie bag, I'm not going to lie once I got the goodie bag I was completely subdued. Everything I was angry about was suddenly outshined by free products.
Here's the sticker they gave us to put on our clothes to show our group number.
Verdict: I think if this were at another (bigger) salon with a better layout, it would have been a much more enjoyable event. Note to Smooth Lines: acoustics matter. You can't just throw 50 chatty people into a concrete room and then add a guy with a microphone to fix it. It will most definitely not fix it. Also, my feeling about this overcrowded mess was that either someone severely overestimated the number of people that could comfortably fit in their salon, had a terrible logistics, or they got greedy and weren't too selective like they should have been. It also would have been nice to see the raffle prizes. On to the gift bags!
Cute tote bag $5?
Bumble and bumble Repair Blow Dry 0.5 oz $3.10
Bumble and bumbleStraight Blow Dry0.5 oz $3.10
Bumble and bumbleThickening Hairspray 1 oz $3.63
Bumble and bumble Thickening Shampoo 2 oz $10
Bumble and bumble Thickening Shampoo 2 oz $10
Sephora Gift Card $10 and Compact Mirror $2?
Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream 0.1 oz $10.40
Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara This sample does not have a size on it anywhere, but let's just assume it's .02 oz then the retail value would be approximately $3.00
Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Stick .03 oz $17.40
Bumble and Bumble Surf Foam Spray Blow Dry 4oz $31
The total estimated retail value for this gift bag is $98.63, plus I got $15 off the haircut, plus we probably ate about $5 in food, drinks, and plasticware, I'd probably pay $15 for a dry style, and I probably have about $1 worth of product in my hair right now. My mom and I both got goodie bags, so added all together adds up to $233.26. That's the closest a 500 point reward has ever come to the money spent for them. If we would have won a raffle prize, this number would be even higher. I hope you've enjoyed this post.
Thanks for reading!