Create a multi-faceted environment that builds excitement and sponsor revenue among the top beauty brands while driving consumer engagement at the Essence Festival in New Orleans


Mark Stephen partnered with Essence to create the Essence Beauty Carnival. Originating at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, the Beauty Carnival has evolved into a multi-sensory experience dedicated to the celebration of all things beauty. In three years, the experience has expanded to include custom activations; a stage, featuring beauty demos and interviews; and a museum, celebrating the history of hair care. In addition to the overall conceptualization, design, and on-site management, Mark Stephen collaborated directly with many of the multi-cultural divisions of the top beauty brands, including L’Oreal, Coty and Revlon, on the development of their activations, with the objectives of building awareness and social engagement while maintaining a cohesive design aesthetic in the festival environment. Year-over-year, the sold-out program has doubled in size and gained record-setting attendance. The program expanded to New York City in 2019.


12+ Beauty Sponsors

10+ Activations

2X increase of foot print over previous year

2X increase of registered attendees over previous year

Sold Out VIP experience 

Mark Testa