A monthly goody bag of productsSubscription boxes such as Birchbox, Fancy Box offer sample sizes of various products
By: Jasmine Maki, Grand Forks Herald
Every month, Sara Tezel of Grand Forks eagerly awaits the arrival of her little brown box.
She typically sees it on her way out the door and brings it with her to work. When she stops at a red light, she tears into the neatly packaged box and removes the tissue paper to reveal each of her mini gifts.
From bronzer and concealer to hair spray, to cute Band-Aids, her monthly Birchbox subscription includes a wide array of beauty products and other trendy items.
And, for Tezel, it’s all about the suspense.
She discovered Birchbox while browsing Pinterest for gift ideas. She decided to buy a three-month subscription to the beauty box for her younger sister.
“I enjoyed seeing all her boxes, and I was like, ‘You know, I deserve something great like that every month,’ so I got it for myself,” she said.
For $10 a month, Tezel receives a monthly box of five or six sample-size beauty products to try.
‘Like having a trendy older sister’
Tezel doesn’t use many beauty products, so the subscription allows her to experiment with different makeup, creams and hair care products without wasting a lot of money.
“The great thing about Birchbox is that it’s kind of like having a trendy, older sister,” Tezel said.
Birchbox has introduced Tezel to many new products she otherwise never would have tried. Her favorite product thus far is the Marcelle BB Golden Glow Illuminator cream.
“I don’t get ready for the day without it,” she said.
Tezel has also received hair sprays, shave gels, nail polishes, concealers, eye shadow, dry shampoo and a nail file. “A lot of the products they send are sample size, so they’re great for traveling or just for testing,” she said.
If Tezel is interested in purchasing the full-size product, she can buy it on the website and receive free shipping if it’s within the same month.
“There’s obviously products I don’t love as much, but you know that the next month is coming, and there’s going to be some great things in there,” Tezel said. “It’s kind of like goody bags when you go to stores. You’re always excited to see what’s in there even if it’s not the most fantastic stuff.”
If Tezel doesn’t want a product, she’ll give it to her younger sister or gift it to a friend.
‘Like Christmas every month’
Birchbox is just one of many subscription boxes available. From beauty products to pet products, to fitness products, there’s a subscription box for anything and everything. And everyone has a different reason for subscribing.
For Nick Cuskey of Bismarck, the subscription boxes are a warm welcome home after working for several weeks on the oil rigs in northwest North Dakota.
“It’s like Christmas every month,” he said of the one or two boxes that typically arrive at his door while he’s away.
Cuskey subscribes to the men’s version of Birchbox, as well as Fancy Box, which includes kitchen products, random gadgets and new technology.
He subscribed after reading about the boxes on some of his favorite tech blogs. He said he was hoping to find some new shaving products and face creams that would make his daily shave a little easier on his sensitive skin.
“The products are remarkable,” he said. “I never would have tried them otherwise.”
Making informed decisions
Cuskey says the boxes have allowed him to make more informed decisions about products.
When he found face products that worked well for his skin, he started looking at the list of ingredients and realized his skin responds better to products that don’t contain alcohol.
The random items he’s received in his Fancy Boxes are also opening him up to new ideas. He had never thought about putting speakers in his bathroom, until he received some small speakers one month. Now, he’s looking for an even better solution to playing music while he showers and preps for the day.
“If I do find something I like, I search for similar products,” he said. “It inspires me to look in a different direction.”
Cuskey has also taken advantage of the websites’ tools, which allow subscribers to adjust their preferences as far as what items they receive.
“At first, it was like getting a random box … now, it’s like getting a present from a friend,” he said.
Some of Cuskey’s favorite items are an aluminum water bottle and a simple bottle opener made from a block of wood and a nail.
“They’re unique things I never would have thought to buy,” he said.
But some of the stuff is really bizarre, he said, like the knit stocking cap with a crochet beard.
“I use it to take the trash out in the winter,” he said with a laugh. “It looks ridiculous.”
Whether they hold a silly hat or an awesome new shave cream, Cuskey said he always looks forward to opening his monthly subscription boxes.