Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Subscriptions, Subscriptions...

My name is Rachel, obviously, from the title. Some stuff about me to start with...I am 28 years-old. I'm a virgo. I got my bachelor's degree in Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Chemistry (so please forgive the run-ons and less than stellar writing style, its also been a while since I tried to write formally). I am a sales associate for a large diamond company. I sell loose diamonds, engagement rings, colored stones, and fine diamond and gemstone jewelry almost every day for nearly three years now. I love my job! My co-workers are like having another little family! I also have two Silver Shaded Persian Cats named Layla (she's 8) and Mrs Fluffington (or Janie Lou who is 1 1/2). I have a German Shepherd named Echo that is 4, but she lives with my dad since I live in an apartment. I live in Birmingham, Alabama in the middle of two of the "fancier" suburbs in a two-bedroom apartment with my best friend, who we shall call L in the blog, unless she gives me permission to use her name. I have an amazing boyfriend, who is about to graduate from medical school. We will refer to him as K for now. I host a trivia night once a month at a local bar. Trivia has probably been my biggest hobby for the past year. I also am a member of The Junior Board for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where I have been working to help in the prevention of suicide and awareness for the past year and was involved in the Foundation's Out of the Darkness Walks in the two years prior. I have raised over $5000 in those two years, which has been a big accomplishment that I am very proud of. Other than that, a few things I love (and this will come in handy later, I promise): reading, stargazer lilies, apple products, diamonds and jewelry (of course), Taylor Swift, peacocks, Eric Clapton, Vinyl records, Bond No 9 perfume/cologne, painting, sketching, playing guitar and ukulele, yoga, shopping (especially for clothes and makeup), Express (the store), Sephora, the beach, pinot noir, the occasional margarita (rocks, no salt), thai food, Grey's Anatomy, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Auburn football, cooking, pajamas, board and card games, traveling, massages, and pens that write well.

I'm not really a blogger, but I'm going to attempt to be one. This is going to be one of the more winded ones too since I am explaining myself and what I'm blogging about, so try and hang in there! So why am I attempting to be a blogger? There's a couple of reasons for this, one, it gives me something to do (new hobby!), and two, it lets me buy things (old hobby). The second part I really enjoy doing! So what exactly am I buying and blogging about? Subscription Boxes

Subscription Boxes are something that people used to get as bad Christmas gifts, like the cheese or fruit of the month club. Now they are a craze that has really caught on. Subscription boxes are exactly what they sound like. You pay a fee to subscribe to a service (it may be monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, etc) and they send you something (in this case in the mail). In this case, they send you a box, or bag, of products typically based on a common theme, determined by preferences you set. The products are typically a surprise, which makes it a lot of fun to open. It is like getting a little present in the mail, filled with goodies from a source or category you enjoy! Well, almost, you are paying for it. So it is technically a present to yourself, but it is still a lot of fun to get and open!

Here is an example: Birchbox (by the way this will sub as a good portion of my Birchbox review and in the future I will mainly just show the contents of the box each month so I'm not repeating myself)
Most people have heard about Birchbox, which is a beauty subscription box that sends 5-6 samples and some full size products for their subscribers to try for $10/month. You fill out a "beauty profile" for them on their website and they tailor the samples to your style and beauty needs. You can then buy any of products you liked from Birchbox's website. It is great if you just want to try out new things before you buy them, just like samples (I love having the small sizes around for traveling), or are really into beauty products. When I first signed up for Birchbox, I actually did not think I would ever purchase anything based on my Birchbox samples, because I really was just in it for the samples. I was very wrong. Birchbox introduced me to Caudalie, which is my go-to, hands-down, favorite skin care line. I started using Caudalie's VinoSource face cream when I got it in my first Birchbox, which led me to trying Caudalie's other, more expensive products. I am now completely dependent on Caudalie's highest end line, "Premier Cru." Which means that by Caudalie providing Birchbox with that one sample for their boxes, it resulted in me spending hundreds of dollars on their skincare products. (See how this works for the companies that provide the samples now? All it takes in one person to love one of their products and they buy more of it or try other products by the same company....and so on).  I've also purchased an eye-liner and a lip care product after loving the samples I got in my Birchbox. These were one time buys, but they still got me to buy a full-size and full-price item by sending me a sample. I think Birchbox's curators tend to keep some larger or "deluxe" samples and full size items in each box to keep people from unsubscribing, since not every box is going to have something in it that you want to pay full price for. These items (at least in my box, which remember, is geared towards me) are often hand lotions, lip glosses, and half-size mascaras, which I find having these to throw in my purse or keep at work really convenient.   Sounds pretty great, right? It is! So when Birchbox released the male version, I signed my boyfriend, K, up immediately. To my surprise (and his), he loves his Birchboxes! He was surprised by how useful the products that he received were and actually enjoyed trying them out. Since he is in medical school and on the go all the time, the travel sizes were great for him. It's also really helped him with maintaining his skin care routine. So, I deemed the Birchbox Men experiment pretty successful.

So why am I going on and on about Birchbox? Because that seems like how this subscription box craze all started. Now there are subscription boxes for anything and everything you can imagine! Seriously, you can get boxes full of things for your dog or cat, vegan-friendly foods, adult "toys," jewelry, socks, underwear, coffee, crafting supplies, kids items, yoga gear, fishing gear...the list goes on and on. If you can think of something you would like delivered to your door on a reoccurring basis (for a special price) then its probably out there.

Where do I come in?
I really get into things that I like or enjoy. In a way, I guess you could say that I have an addictive personality when it comes to "stuff" (not drugs!). Once I get hooked on a product, clothing item, brand, etc...I tend to acquire it in large quantities. Currently, my fixation has been on contouring makeup, really soft pajamas, knee socks, cooking stuff, and subscription boxes.  So in order to at least somewhat justify one of my current obsessions, I am going to blog about it. This first entry has been really long-winded (I'm more than aware!), so I am going try and keep the rest to a minimum. Below are the first 15 boxes I've subscribed to (including Birchbox Women and Birchbox Men). These are the ones I'm going to initially blog about. I may cancel some later on in order to try some different boxes (especially if I am not impressed) and because I don't want to be spending a fortune (I got a lot of them at a discounted rate for the first one with a coupon, with the option to cancel!) After this entry, I will post a new entry when I get a new box (Maybe one or two about other boxes out there if there is interest). The first review of a box I received yesterday will be within the next day or two.

Each Review will entail: Not All Subscription Boxes are Created Equal!
I will tell you all about that subscription box service-
the name of the subscription box, the type of products/service it is, price per box and pricing discounts if you subscribe for longer periods at a time, shipping price (most are free), how often you receive a box, how they decide what you receive (and if they conform the box based on what you like), whats suppose to be in it, what I actually got in it (complete with photos of the box and each item), the value of each individual item and overall value of the box I received vs the price of the box, a little review of the contents and the subscription service in general (with a rating system), any perks you get as a member (for referrals, reviews, etc), a link to subscribe, any coupons or promotional discount codes I may have for that subscription box. Again, they won't be nearly this long...I hope...

I listed the boxes that I have subscribed to (with links)
A brief summary from their description of their box (paraphrased in some instances for space)
The price for each box with no discount (I used a lot of discounts!!!)
  1. Birchbox-Women (hand-curated, high-end, brand-name, and premium beauty, makeup, grooming and lifestyle samples and accessories)- $10/monthly
  2. Birchbox-Men (hand-curated, high-end, brand-name, and premium, grooming, skincare, lifestyle samples and accessories for men)- $20/monthly
  3. Ipsy-(A personalized "glambag" of samples and full-sized beauty products based on stylist recommendations)-$10/monthly
  4. Glossy box (Exclusive and Top Beauty, Makeup, Skincare, Haircare products from the best, well-known, luxury brands and up-and-coming niche brands )-$21/monthly
  5. Wantable: Intimates (3-4 premium intimate essentials (underwear, PJS, socks, lingerie, pantyhose, leggings) hand-picked by your in-house stylist)-$36/monthly (can be returned if you don't like the items for a full refund)-This company has three other "categories" of boxes as well, I just started with this one.
  6. Splendies (3 pairs of quality underwear delivered discreetly to your door with dozens of brands, styles, and colors)-$13.99/monthly (although the website says its now $9.99/month? not sure because I had a coupon for a free box)
  7. Beauty Box 5 (A mix of makeup, hair products, beauty accessories, skincare, body, nail, and frangrance that we can't get enough of from luxury, drugstore, eco-concious, niche, and even vegan-brands)-$12/monthly
  8. Allure Beautybar.com Sample Society (Highlights of Allure's editors rigorous products research and testing of hair, makeup, skin products, and fragrances along with a mini-Allure Magazine)-$15/monthly
  9. FABFITFUN (Seasonal box full of full-size, premium products related to fitness, beauty, home decor, accessories, nutrition, and fashion for women aimed at making you feel good from the inside out)-$49.99/quarterly
  10. POPSUGAR Must Have ($100 worth of fashion, beauty, food, home decor, and fitness products from new and upcoming brands as well as tried and true essentials)-$39.95/monthly
  11. Conscious Box (We scour the world to bring you the absolute best ethical, Non-GMO, natural, and sustainable everyday products such as food, cleaning products, beauty products and household necessities from hundreds of natural goods)-$17.95/monthly-There are three versions of this box as well including regular, gluten-free, and vegan (mine is the regular) there is also a "taster" box that has fewer items for $7.95/month, I chose the "plus" version since my coupon required me to. 
  12. Splendies LUXE (A subscription service that brings you 3 pairs of some of the finest underwear on the market today and is the premium version of the "splendid" box. Comes in a ribbon-tied keepsake box)-$45/month (yet again the site says $35 and I used a different discount code for more off...also this will probably be one I only keep for a month since they are basically the same thing, just one is fancier...and pricier...)
  13. Meow Box (In each box your cat will receive a $35-45 value combination of tasty treats, tantalizing toys, grooming aids, and innovative gadgets designed to make your cat's life happier)-$25/monthly (This is not the same Meoxbox that the company that makes Barkbox makes). 
  14. Little Lace Box (Themed, designer, hard to find, hand curated, high-end, and brand name beauty, lifestyle, and home products and samples)-$39.99/monthly (I'm really excited to see what is in this box because they have special themes (one was Downton Abbey) and the boxes are often jam packed with really neat stuff that isn't makeup!!! (yay!) and I had to sit on a waiting list for a week in order to get on their list because they sell out so fast!)
  15. Goodebox (A trial and discovery providing expertly curated, healthy beauty products, non-toxic cosmetics, natural cosmetics, and personal care products, along with occasional samples of organic and natural health and wellness products.)

Wow, that one post took a lot longer to write than I thought it would!!! I hope you enjoyed reading it. Sorry it was so long. The rest will be shorter and full of pictures! I will post my Beauty Box 5 January 2015 box later this week, so stay tuned!

Love and Boxes, 

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