So friends, this was supposed to be one of the four times a year when I get super excited because my favorite subscription box shows up at my door: the Nina Garcia box from Quarterly. If you’re a beauty or fashion enthusiast (or a Project Runway fan) then you know who Nina is. Her first box (Fall 2013) had a “glam grunge” theme and to date is my favorite sub box that I’ve ever received. Her last one in March, was a bit more of a hodge podge, but that was expected since it was a “favorite things” box. It had a couple misses, but overall was quite excellent. I’m giving you this background so you know where we’re coming from and that way maybe you can tell me how we ended up with this July box.
I tried to think of many themes for this box and the one that features most prominently in my mind is: “What the #$&*%#&* Nina?” I usually don’t give you my overall opinion so early on in my review, but you need to prepare yourself. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
So where should we start…I know with one of my oh so favorite items…
Muito Cool Baseball Cap: (Estimated Retail: $55.00)
Nina’s Description: I worked with SP϶NGLISH to design this custom Muito Cool baseball cap for you. As one of the coolest accessories for this summer, it is not only perfect for the moment, but will also serve as memento of the 2014 World Cup for years to come.”
Verdict: What the @&*#$&(!
Cool – I do not think it means what you think it means.
You know what all the fashion and beauty obsessed ladies who are willing to fork over $100 for a beauty sub, want? A baseball hat. And not just any baseball hat. One to commemorate the World Cup. It’s what every American woman dreams of receiving. We spend all that time doing our hair and all that money on hair products just so we can shove it all under an ugly hat. This is the same brand featured in the last NG box, only that shirt was a million times better designed and infinitely more useful. Putting aside that we didn’t need a repeat of this brand so quickly, this item is just absurd. There were so many other fashionable options if you really needed a “memento of the 2014 World Cup” like a sophisticated charm bracelet with a removable World Cup charm or maybe you just don’t need to bring sports into this box at all. Maybe.
Let’s move on to another winner…
Koku Pouch: (Estimated Retail: $108.95)
Nina’s Description: “The other accessory that every fashionista must have every summer is a go-to bag. Whenever this item of year hits, I set aside my usual lady-like purses and opt for a lightweight clutch. One of my personal favorites is a Koku pouch that doubles as a summer clutch. All of Koku’s products are handmade in Greece. This clutch…features raffia fringe and a plexiglass decoration—giving it an unparalleled summery feel”
Nina says ‘Unparalled summery feel” I say “dollar store reject.” I cannot express to you enough how much cheaper this looks in person. It’s like something you put together from odds and ends of the Luau aisle of Party City. I couldn’t find my exact version so I linked to a similar pouch with a plexiglass decoration and raffia. The linked one is much more attractive than mine, but if you’re willing to pay over a $100 for either one, I have some land in Florida I want to sell you.
Oh, so what’s our next high end fashion, oh so unique find?
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 30 (Estimated Retail: $10.79)
Nina’s Description:“Of course with the onset of summer, most of us go through ha change of routine and encounter new priorities. At the top of my list is protecting my skin. For that purpose I have included Hawaiian tropic silk hydration spf 30. Its classic Hawaiian Tropics scent evokes the feeling of summer and its broad spectrum protection will keep your skin safe, helping you stay worry-free.”
Verdict: Sigh, are we even trying anymore?
I’m going to put aside the fact that SPF 30 is really not high enough for a lot of folks and point out that you can pick this up at any drugstore. Hell, you can probably pick this up at a gas station. I highly doubt that Nina is spraying herself with this sunblock. If we’d gotten a luxury brand or even a new emerging one, sunblock would have been a great addition. Because of the low SPF I won’t be able to use this.
Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: (Retail: $21.50)
Nina’s Description: “It acts like a dry shampoo in that it absorbs oil at the roots, but adds volume and texture to your hair. It gives it a ‘just done look, and will keep your style looking fresh for a couple of days….”
Verdict: Hit! (Finally)
I actually have a big can of this courtesy of the Popsugar Neiman Marcus box. It works amazingly well for updos and this travel size is perfect for summer. It’s just the thing for keeping your hair looking fabulous during an August wedding and the small size is great for traveling. Finally, something I can actually use!
Organic Shave Gel by Surya Brasil (Estimated Retail: $20.39)
Nina’s Description:“..an incredible, vegan, organic shave gel by Surya Brasil. Your legs will be super smooth, and you can rest easy knowing that it doesn’t contain any GMOs and is cruelty free.”
A useful product from an interesting new brand. Hot Damn! A shave gel is perfect in a summer box and I’m excited to try out this new company that has vegan products. Progress, we’re making progress!
Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator (Estimated Retail: $16.00)
Nina’s Description:“It will moisturize and calm your hair, making it healthier, shinier and just overall more manageable when styling.”
A hair moisturizer isn’t super exciting, but it seems useful and this is another new brand for me. I’ll try adding to my hair routine once or twice a week.
ck One Lipstick in Entice: ($8.97)
Nina’s Description: “No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!.”
I actually really love this shade and the color stayed put for a surprisingly long time. I’ve never tried any ck One beauty products so it was nice to add this to my collection.
Formula X Nail Lacquer in Push the Limits (Retail: $10.50)
Nina’s Description:“No summer look is complete without a bright lip and nail—‘tis the season for bold, intense, saturated colors!..”
Despite my plethora of polish, I don’t have any of the Formula X so it’s nice to try this one out. I tend to favor blue reds, while this one is an orange. I don’t have anything like it so it’s a nice addition to my giant polish hoard. The color applied smoothly and I think the shade will be fabulous for pedicures.
Palm Tree Print Clutch by Print All over Me (Retail: $20.00)
Nina’s Description:“It’s summery pattern makes it the perfect pouch to hold all of your summer essentials.”
What is this trend with calling pouches, clutches? This is a pouch. It is a cute and lovely pouch, but it is not a clutch. I don’t ever see people walking around with these things as bags. They are what you put your makeup in and then in turn throw into your actual bag. So putting that aside, this isn’t a bad pouch, but the Popsugar Summer LE Box had a much nicer one that is very similar. I’ll be gifting this one since there are only so many ocean printed pouches that I can use at a time. This is yet another editorial choice I just don’t understand. Nina already included that hideous, I mean quirky “clutch”. Why not do a tote bag instead? There are plenty available from Print All Over Me. I couldn’t find any pouches on the site, but it’s very hard to navigate. Their tote bags cost $28.00, so I’ll estimate this at $20, since I would think a tote bag would cost more that a medium pouch.
Red Flower Italian Blood Orange Refreshing Hand & Face Towelette
(Sample Estimated Retail: .71; Estimated Retail: 7 pack/$5.00)
Nina’s Description: “To freshen up when you are on the go…”
Verdict: Like, but…
Really, just one towelette? Maybe you could have omitted the terrible baseball cap so we could have a couple of these instead. I like this item, I think it’s a great addition, but just one seems very stingy to me. This is what I expect in a Birchbox sample, not in a $100 box. And a 7 pack is only $5.00 so it’s not like the uber expensive Revive sample from last time…
OtterBox Brazilian Pop! Symmetry Series Phone Case (For iPhone 5/5s or GALAXY s5)
(Estimated Retail: $49.95)
Nina’s Description:“…your device deserves an upgrade in the accessory department too! In the spirit of Brazil and summer, I worked with OtterBox to design this protective case inspired by Brazilian street art.”
I have an Iphone 5 so I was one of the folks who could actually use the gift card for a case. (Apparently you don’t need a case if you don’t own an Iphone or a Galaxy). The design is bright and cheerful but I just don’t love it. I did redeem it so I may just pass it along to someone else or save it for when I want to take my super hardcore case off my Iphone.
Desk Ornament from Melissa (Retail: ???)
Nina’s Description:“I have also included a desk ornament from the Brazilian shoe designer Melissa. Melissa creates vegan, rubber shoes and has collaborated with designers such a Vivienne Westwood, and architect Zaha Hadid. On the shelf at home or on your desk at work this little shoe is the perfect item for the fashion obsessed.”
Verdict: Somewhere there is a sad doll, searching, just searching for her missing shoe.
I don’t even know where to start. Really, this is a tiny rubber shoe. One tiny rubber shoe. It’s more like the beginning of a sad beatnik poem, than a “desk ornament”. Does Nina really keep this on her desk? My desk only has things I can use or things I adore. And I can’t imagine adoring one miniature rubber shoe. Maybe I’m missing something? Maybe fashionistas all over the world truly believe this is the perfect desk accessory? Maybe I’m out of touch? Maybe I should quit being a blogger and roam around the world visiting shoe stores until I can fully appreciate the craftsmanship of this tiny piece of art. Wait, it has inspired me! Here it is, an ode to the tiny rubber shoe:
So much depends upon,
a black rubber shoe,
wrapped in tissue paper
beside a red polish.
In-Ear Headphones from Frends (Retail: $99.00)
Nina’s Description:“There’s no better way to get you in the mood for summer than with some great music. That’s why I’ve chosen to include these super chic white, in ear headphones decorated with a gold wire overlay from Frends. These beauties are so pretty that they almost look lik ea piece of jewelry—why shouldn’t your tech gear be super stylish?”
Finally! A big ticket item that actually feels like Nina Garcia would use. These headphones are so pretty and while I have a bunch of earbuds these are the nicest. I’d never splurge on these myself, but am so excited to try them out. If you love them, they are available on Birchbox so you can hoard your points to get them.
Vanilla Orchid & Almond Classic Candle by Nest (Retail:12.00)
Nina’s Description:“I absolutely adore these candles and the summery scents are incredible..”.
I would have loved this in another scent. This one is way too strong and it’s not summery at all. I noticed others got scents like “orange blossom” and I would have infinitely preferred that. I own a Nest candle I adore that came in that Popsugar Neiman Marcus Box which also had the Oribe spray. Except that box had larger sizes of both items. I find it very odd that Nina would include two items that were already packaged together in another box. It just seems poor planning to me. I would have held off and included the Nest candle in the Fall box and left the Oribe spray in this one. She just set herself up for a comparison where her box was going to look worse.
I sit alone in the corner, sobbing, clutching a tiny black rubber shoe to my chest…
Oh Nina, what happened here? Did someone hold your dog hostage and demand you include that hideous “clutch” and baseball cap? I don’t understand this box. It leads me to (gasp!) question your taste level. I cannot imagine you running around with that yellow raffia clutch and spraying yourself down with Hawaiian Tropics sunblock while wearing a baseball cap. As you so often ask on project runway – who is the woman you’re designing for? Would the woman who wears that baseball cap also be the one who needs a super pricey texturizing hair spray?
Theoretically this box is valued at $$455.76 (excluding the shoe and with my estimated cost on the pouch), but that’s with items like the shark clutch priced at over a $100. I paid $100, and there were a few items I liked (like the pricey headphones), but I can’t shake the disappointment I feel. In my opinion, I didn’t get what I signed up for. Nina is known for being chic and sophisticated and only a few items in this box fit that profile.
I am not canceling since I have faith that Nina will turn it all around and offer us a fabulous Fall box, but if it comes with a tiny rubber hat, I’m out.
What did you think of this box and what would you do with one tiny black rubber shoe?