After years of running ourselves ragged, we joked with Randy Taylor, cofounder of, about last year being #ZenISSE.  We were committed to creating a space of education, relaxation and connection with our fellow hair nerds.  Shockingly, it can actually be done.  We have written a ton of guides in our time…  This is the one we follow most closely now because it allows us to continue on this path without burning out.


Boundaries and Goals

Why are you attending?  What are you hoping to learn and gain?  Getting really clear about your goals helps you create boundaries.  If 2016 is all about business education for you, set your boundaries so when your friends want to blow off a class to grab bloody marys, everyone knows that you won’t be joining.

What are your non-negotiable classes, events, etc. for the show?  Once you figure that out, you can fill in from there.  Don’t forget you are investing a ton of money in this experience.  It is up to you to create the one you want.



We have devoted entire posts to this very thing, but let’s just make it simple.  Go ALL 3 days.  Shop on Saturday when the floor isn’t packed and relatively calm. Buy all the things to want with a clear head. Take classes Sunday and Monday.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to study the education guides before the show.  Create a timeline for the classes you want to take and include times and locations.  The key to a zen show is to be prepared.  Plan. Plan. Plan.

Will there be any downtime? Will you have time to grab a tea?


Stay On-Site

It can be expensive to stay on-site, but think of the benefits.  This is where all the people you want to stalk are staying.  So you can casually become besties with Tabatha Coffey in the Starbucks line. (Our personal mission for ISSE this year.) We always book as soon as PBA opens up the reservation line to secure the show pricing.


Be Comfortable

You know that moment in a dressing room where you are looking at a dress and thinking, “Damn this would be perfect for {blank} show..” but then you follow it up with, “But what bra will I wear? Do my legs look weird? Hmmm I just need to lose like 6.5 pounds and this is going to be perfect!”.  Yeah… don’t wear that dress.

Geno Stampora shares a story in his classes that he always wears the same suit to teach in.  It is an outfit that makes him feel comfortable and confident.  Take Geno’s advice and find something that is going to allow you to move, that you aren’t pulling at all day and feeling self-conscious.

Never wear brand new shoes. Heels are my personal nemesis so I choose to only wear them to the evening events and when absolutely necessary.


Sips and Nibbles

Finding time to eat can seem like a lowly priority but take our advice and toss a couple of granola bars and bottled water in your bag for while you are at the show.  Also, consider limiting cocktail hour (gasp… I know).  Here is the thing… this isn’t a guide on how to maximize your hangover experience, we are talking about the unicorn that is the mythical relaxing tradeshow. #SacrificesMustBeMade


Create Space to be Alone

1 is the loneliest number… unless you have been with 40,000 other hairdressers all day.  In that case, sometimes 1 is the PERFECT number.  We know it is tempting to spend every waking moment with your friends from all over the country because these shows are like a family reunion.  We are definitely guilty of this but have found that even 20 minutes to take a hot bath, meditate or go on a run… can be the difference in the ZEN Life and Tradeshow Meltdown.



Get some.  You need it.  Your body wants it.  Close your eyes… you know you want to.