Long before getting involved with the fashion and beauty industry, production consultant Sanae Hayashi was already an expert in film and television production. For over ten years, she worked on major projects with major companies, including TBS News of the Tokyo Broadcasting System and GAGA Corporation, where she handled the foreign acquisition, marketing, and promotion for huge films like 'The Iron Lady,' 'Farewell, My Queen,' and 'Zero Dark Thirty.'
But after relocating to New York, Hayashi started to meet more and more professionals working in fashion and beauty. Following a string of introductions, Hayashi spoke with an eyelash artist who was looking for a pro who could handle the NYC Volume Lash Cup, a major international competition where eyelash artists can showcase their skills and, of course, compete in various categories.
Long story short, Hayashi went on to become the marketing consultant for the competition, and she found time in her schedule to talk with me about her work promoting the event.
When I asked Hayashi why she felt motivated to expand into fashion and beauty, she explained that it wasn't the result of a detailed plan.
"I just wanted to follow where life was taking me. I wasn't really looking for new opportunities in fashion and beauty, but the people I met here in the city brought me opportunities in fashion and beauty, so I figured why not? I took those opportunities, and I'm glad that I did."
If you're sitting there wondering what a marketing consultant actually does, the short answer is everything.
A marketing consultant is ultimately responsible for overseeing all promotional efforts for a product, a service, or an event. That includes various marketing channels and scheduling out promotional materials, as well as refining brand voice along the way and making changes to promotional strategy as necessary.
In this case, Hayashi has managed to grow the NYC Volume Lash Cup substantially in recent years, and I had the chance to ask Hayashi all about her promotion strategy, plans for future competitions, and how this work compares to her film and TV days.
In fact, let's start there.
"The biggest difference is probably that I can now get seven or eight hours of sleep a night, which was almost impossible when I was working in film and TV, haha."
Don't worry, she's just joking. Well, maybe half-joking.
But seriously, film and television marketing can be intense, to say the least, especially with the kinds of projects that Hayashi was handling for GAGA.
"When I was doing film marketing and promotion, many of the movies were Oscar contenders, so the projects were exciting but exhausting at the same time. Also, there are many restrictions and rules in the contracts between the production company, the talent agency, and the distribution company that we needed to follow, especially when we were promoting bigger films."
Major studios vying for major awards don't want to take any unnecessary risks, so promotion teams are only allowed to do so much.
In contrast, Hayashi's promotion work for Volume Lash Cup is much more open-ended, which leaves more opportunities for tactics and execution.
"We can make our own decision for Volume Lash Cup, so I'm definitely enjoying the increased amount of freedom on this project. We can be much more creative."
And now it's time to talk about what Hayashi's promotion work for Volume Lash Cup has looked like so far and how the team is going about attracting more competitors and viewers.
The event may not have the promotional budget of an Oscar-nominated movie, but Hayashi has found some incredibly effective ways of reaching out to competitors and viewers.
First and foremost, SNS marketing, or social network service marketing, also referred to as social media marketing, has been a central component.
"It's an international competition, so SNS has been very important. Instagram, in particular, has been one of the most important and useful tools for promotion when it comes to beauty and fashion since the industry already has a huge presence on the service. There are also plenty of users who look for that kind of content on Instagram."
As for how Hayashi and her team reach out to potential competitors, she mentioned that the specificity of the competition is a big help.
"The competition is only for professional eyelash artists, so the target is very specific and clear. But we want as many people to enter the competition as possible, so we always try to share information with high-quality images that eyelash professionals would like to see."
From there, another important goal for the promotion team is to expand the audience's understanding of what the competition is, how it works, how it's judged, and how competitors can benefit from participating.
"We share very detailed bios and information about our judges and sponsors, show gifts from the sponsors, the trophies, the winners' eyelash work photos from previous competitions, etc., so we can communicate that our competition is worth entering and will advance their career as eyelash professionals."
The Volume Lash Cup is still a relatively young competition, so raising awareness regarding the who, what, when, and where of the competition is crucial.
But the good news on that front is that there's a sense of momentum that grows over time, and that momentum has translated to steady growth for the competition.
"We're attracting more attention from potential competitors and sponsors from many different countries, and the competition itself is gaining even more credibility, so we're seeing more people join the competition every year."
As the event becomes more well-known professional eyelash artists have even more reasons to participate, as the Volume Lash Cup has become a platform for the artists themselves to show what they're capable of and gain notoriety in the process.
The end result is a win-win scenario. Having more participants means that the awards carry more weight, and it also means that more brands will want to advertise their products by sponsoring the show. And at the same time, viewers get to see some of the best eyelash artists in the world share their work.
So where is the show heading in the future? Previously, the competition has been an online-only event, but Hayashi says that's changing.
"Although our plan was to have a live competition from our second year onward, the pandemic forced us to switch to an online competition format. But now that pandemic restrictions are no longer in effect, we are hoping to have our first live competition very soon!"
Making the move to a live, in-person event is no small order, but thankfully Hayashi's wealth of experience in promotional events for film and TV has given her everything she needs to tackle this project and more.
What about the next step in Hayashi's career? Is she planning to return to film and television, or will she continue in fashion and beauty? Hayashi told me that she's already making plans to work with a number of other clients in the fashion and beauty industry.
"I'll definitely be continuing my work in this industry. Because I know many hairstylists working here in NYC, I'm planning to do some online marketing for their hair salons. Then we'll see where things take me from there!"
I had a great time talking with Hayashi about the Volume Lash Cup as well as her past experiences with film and television, and I hope this has been an informative and entertaining experience for our readers as well.
We're finally reaching a point where professionals working in fashion and beauty are starting to be recognized as the artists they are, making events like this one that much more exciting.
If you'd like to learn more about the NYC Volume Lash Cup, feel free to visit the official website.