MWSCC Teamworks 2024: ‘Pure Imagination’ with a focus on innovation

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

MWSCC Teamworks is “a breath of fresh air for me to be surrounded by people who are committed to creating change and want to do it through science, and they want to better the world,” shared Keynote speaker Chris Kanik. © CosmeticsDesign
MWSCC Teamworks is “a breath of fresh air for me to be surrounded by people who are committed to creating change and want to do it through science, and they want to better the world,” shared Keynote speaker Chris Kanik. © CosmeticsDesign

Related tags SCC event Cosmetic chemists trade show

From the challenges of becoming an industry disruptor to fostering mental health in the workplace and capturing the magic of ingredient and formulation innovation, we spoke with MWSCC Teamworks Keynote speaker Chris Kanik of Smart Cups, Technical Symposium presenter Ellen Feldman Ornato of Bolder Company, and exhibitor Beto Pino of Vantage for their key takeaways from this year’s expo.

This week, the Midwest chapter of the Society of Cosmetics Chemists (MWSCC) held its bi-annual Teamworks​ event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. Focusing on ingredient and product formulations in the cosmetics and personal care space, the whimsical theme of this year’s event, “Pure Imagination,” provided attendees the opportunity to explore industry innovations with a sense of wonder – and even offered visitors the chance to find a golden ticket and claim a prize.

This year’s event attracted over 1,000 attendees and over 100 exhibitors, including Probiotical, Clariant, Mibelle Biochemistry, Univar Solutions, and Givaudan.

The event started with a Keynote Presentation by Chris Kanik, founder of Smart Cups Technology, who offered his experience creating sustainable consumables in his talk “The Fight for Progress: Smart Cups’ Willy Wonka-Inspired Innovation Saga.”

Teamworks 2024​ also offered attendees access to a wide range of educational opportunities, including a Technical Symposium presentation series. This series covered a variety of topics, such as precision fermentation, patent protection, sustainable innovation, emotional intelligence in the workplace, and the relationship between AI and cosmetic product development.

Additionally, the SCC sponsored an exhibit of student poster presentations, including “Characterization of Emulsions—Emulsifier Feel and Type Determinations” and “Moisturizers and Lipsticks: Are Sustainable Ingredients Effective Alternatives to Synthetic Ingredients?”

CosmeticsDesign interviewed Kanik, Technical Symposium presenter Ellen Feldman Ornato, Co-founding partner of the Bolder Company, and exhibitor Beto Pino, VP of Innovation, Personal Care at Vantage, about their key takeaways from this year’s MWSCC Teamworks.

Keynote presentation takeaways

When asked what his key takeaway from the Teamworks​ event would be, keynote speaker Chris Kanik said, “If you want to innovate, you're going to struggle” because “innovation is hard."

This simple sentiment encapsulated the event's theme and his discussion, wherein Kanik guided audience members on an emotional journey through the peaks and valleys of his experience building the Smart Cups brand and becoming an industry disruptor. This experience included having “been pushed to the brink of insanity, almost lost my kids and my wife, and here we are,” he shared.

However, he added, “I truly believe that the [Smart Cups] technology is going to positively impact people's lives when you get all these applications in place, and that’s why I do what I do.”

Smart Cups technology is an innovative option for various industries, including food and beverage, as well as cosmetics and personal care. The purpose is “to eliminate liquid transportation,” said Kanik, and “that's going to decrease storage and transportation requirements, decrease unnecessary packaging, and in turn decrease carbon emissions.”

Considering that cosmetics and personal care products are significant drivers of pollution and packaging waste, he added, “If we can provide Smart Cups technology as a solution, I'm hoping that cosmetic companies will adopt and start a domino effect.”

He concluded that participating in events like Teamworks​ is “a breath of fresh air for me to be surrounded by people who are committed to creating change and want to do it through science, and they want to better the world.” To accomplish those goals, he urged industry innovators to start with the need “to be honest with themselves.”

Takeaways from a technical symposium talk

During her presentation, “Ignite Imagination by Leveraging Emotional Intelligence (EQ),” Technical Symposium speaker Ellen Feldman Ornato described the importance of “emotional intelligence, and the connection between emotional intelligence, creativity, and imagination to infuse organizations with more creativity and more imagination,” she summarized.

Drawing from her background at the leadership development organization Bolder Company, which focuses “on building the key skills that allow people to collaborate more effectively in the workplace,” Ornato illustrated that one of the most significant challenges for companies like cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers today is when workers “don't have a high level of emotional intelligence.”

When this happens, she explained, “creativity doesn't happen because people are the most creative when they're the most relaxed…they're the least creative when they feel like they're under threat and their ideas aren't going to be valued.”

To address these challenges, Bolder Company works within companies to try to introduce leadership and other skills that foster emotional intelligence by working “specifically with the people who have the most impact on the people at the production level, which is those supervisors and managers.” Ideally, the positive effects float up to C-Suite employees and down to line workers to improve working conditions overall – and subsequently foster creativity and increased productivity across the company.

Regarding the key takeaways from her talk, Ornato shared that “the number one thing is that emotional intelligence, that ability to understand how your body is reacting under any situation (and to get better agency around how you react and respond), is a learnable skill that anyone can get better at.” Further, she concluded, “the other thing would be that there are known and predictive cycles of how people cycle through emotional response.”

Key takeaways from an exhibitor’s perspective

Having heard from the keynote presenter and one of the Technical Symposium presenters, CosmeticsDesign also sought out some key takeaways from the expo floor and met with Beto Pino, VP of Innovation, Personal Care at ingredient manufacturer Vantage. Attending Teamworks​ for the first time, Pino emphasized that he was very impressed with the expo and shared, "It's very nice to see a lot of alignment about what we're experiencing as an industry in personal care.”

Regarding his key takeaways from the event, Pino said that the show's concept was exciting: "at the end of the day, I think that everybody wants to have that special treat, like that special flavor” behind the innovation in ingredient and product formulations.

“The beauty with personal care is,” he added, “that even though there is science and that most of us are chemists, I think that every time that we're preparing a new product, if it's a raw material, as us in Vantage, or it's a final product with our customers, we always want to add that special magic, that uniqueness, so that when a customer opens the bottle or the jar, you have an experience,” which was encapsulated by the spirit of the event’s concept.

As a final takeaway, he offered, “I think that a lot of the proposals that I saw during the halls, it's all about naturality, it's all about the experience,” and the most crucial takeaway “is how you can make our end users feel happy that they are buying products that are responsible with world, responsible with how even they are farmed, [which] is a very integral value proposition.”

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