Subscription Box Insanity: Arianna Huffington Quarterly (Sep. ’14)

Quarterly boxes are here!

Quarterly boxes are here!

I love when the Quarterly boxes come in! Maybe it’s because, as the name implies, these subscriptions only come in every three months, prolonging the anticipation with the promise of the “cream of the crop” for sub boxes. (And starting at $50 a box and up, the expectation is that they will be!) One of the other foundation’s of Quarterly Co.’s model is that the items in the box are hand-selected by a celebrity curator. There are football players and chefs, bloggers, actresses, and fashionistas. The one thing I have noticed is that their curator list has shrunk of late, which may well be for the best in terms of allowing them to really work with the guest curators to get the best items for their boxes.

I currently have Quarterly subscriptions for Nina Garcia, Eva Scrivo, My Subscription Addiction, and today’s curator, Arianna Huffington. According to Quarterly’s bio for her:

“Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group and author of fourteen books. Her [Quarterly Co.] boxes benefit the nonprofit Ignite Good. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that became one of the most widely-read media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.”

In the politically-obsessed world I live in, “HuffPo” is a well-known forum for all kinds of ideas, platforms, etc. Therefore, I was pretty intrigued when I heard Arianna was going to have a curated box on Quarterly Co., particularly since she was looking to provide items to help unplug, recharge, and live in the moment. I’ve been feeling a bit of a need to do all of those things of late, so I was really eager to see what she had in store for her subscribers.

THE DETAILS: There was a slight pricing snafu with this box when it first came out. It was initially listed as $50 a quarter but then the price jumped up to $100. I wasn’t one of the lucky early-adopters who got to purchase this box at the cheaper rate but still felt like even at $100, it could be worth it. Quarterly Co. delivers worldwide and typically doesn’t charge for the box until it is ready to ship/being shipped (with shipping included in the price listed on the website). One other thing to note is that when a new curator comes out, the company often provides a code for $10 or so off the first box – but only for a very limited time. Quarterly Co. has 100% money back guarantee so you can contact them to get a prepaid return label.

First Look!

First look

With the Nina Garcia Quarterly Co. boxes, Nina actually has her own branded tissue paper and everything comes wrapped in it so it’s a really a treat to unbox. This isn’t the case with the Arianna box, but since my first glance falls upon a book, I still feel pretty positive. As you can see, Quarterly Co. boxes always include a curator note in it’s classic blue envelope. I usually skip over this until the end but it is definitely worth looking through because it typically is a note with personal thoughts and sentiments about each of the items selected by the curator.

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Purple sleep mask

The first item I pull out of the box is this lacy, purple sleep mask. The last year or so I’ve actually taken up sleeping with an eye mask and ear plugs and now it’s the only way I can get a decent night’s sleep. I am doubly cursed it seems with being a really light sleeper (any small noise or the first rays of dawn wake me up) and also one who takes a really long time to fall asleep. So typically once I’m awakened, I’m awake. Bummer. Anyhow, this sleep mask is by Perpetual Shade Luxury Sleep Mask. The lining is 100% silk and a similar one on their site is retailing for $69.

Travel clock

Travel clock

The next item was this small travel alarm clock by Braun; I found it on Amazon for a retail price of $31.47. Looking it over, I have to admit I was a little floored by this item given the theme of relaxation. But in her note, Arianna reminded her subscribers of the importance of sleep for health and wellness and suggested that this clock be set to remind you to go to bed at a decent hour. It’s an interesting tip but both it and the clock are items that I will likely not utilize.

Ms. Huffington's newest title.

Ms. Huffington’s newest title.

You know me, I’ve yet to meet a book that didn’t inspire at least a little thrill of excitement upon first glance! I actually had a sneaking suspicion that Arianna’s latest would be in this box and I wasn’t proven wrong. Included among the pages were stick-it notes sharing Arianna’s thoughts at various points throughout the text. Entitled Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, it shares the author’s thoughts on what it means to be successful while still living a whole, healthful life. It’s listed on Amazon for $14.20 but with the added author’s notes, I’ll bump it up to $20 value.

Free monthly trial offer

Free monthly trial offer

The curator included this one-month, free trial of a service called Headspace, one that normally retails for $12.95 a month. It’s an online meditation program that will guide you through daily sessions, a practice which many cultures and religions throughout the ages have touted as essential for well-being. Nowadays science is backing them up and the Headspace website offers quite a few articles and resources about these findings, which I plan to read through.  Mostly because I love a good science article and I’m a nerd. A lot of the bloggers I read use the standard that if the trial service or product discount allows you to access it without having to put in your credit card info, then it counts toward the value of the box. I like that standard so I will use it here as well. It looks like with this service you don’t have to input this info so this item will be included in final value tally.

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David’s Tea

Tea! I love tea, boy do I love tea. I’ve actually had to institute a tea-buying moratorium on myself because I have so much tea in my cupboards. So I guess I don’t mind so much that this is a duplicate item in this box. This product is by David’s Tea and is called Mother’s Little Helper. It’s caffeine-free and has organic valerian (according to the site this is nature’s Valium), chamomile, peppermint, blue cornflowers, and lemongrass. The two packets accumulate to 3.52 ounces and with each one retailing for $7.50, the retail value here is $15. I will note that peppermint and chamomile are not my favorite tea flavors but I do love a good lemongrass tea so this is somewhat of a toss-up for me as far as personal taste goes.

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Aveda Stress-Fix

The last items in the box are also duplicate items. This has me a bit perplexed. For $100 box, even if the value adds up, I feel just a bit bummed at the lack of originality. Did some other items on the curator’s wishlist fall through? Did they run out of time? Grrr. Well that aside, Aveda is a great brand and these Stress-Fix rollerball concentrates are full size versions that each retail for $24- i.e. a total value of $48.

Okay, so in wrapping up, let’s take a step back. There are some great things in this box that were definitely a hit like the book and the sleep mask. The clock and the tea were a miss because I wouldn’t use them, though I could swap them. I would probably get some use out of at least one of the Stress-fix and could gift the other, so I’m neutral on those. The total retail value of all of these items is approximately $196.42 so almost double the cost paid.

On the other hand is the value of the experience. Paying $100 for a box that comes quarterly seems to imply that your experience when you get it will be one that is a bit more surprising and luxurious. At least in my mind. This box stayed true to it’s theme, which was relaxation and mindfulness, and something I appreciated. But I was disappointed with the duplication of items in particular, no matter their quality and value. Ultimately that tipped the scales and I chose to make use of one of Quarterly Co.’s other features which is their 100% money-back guarantee. Since I didn’t even open the items, I packed them all back up in the original box, requested a return from customer service, and shipped the box out using the prepaid return label I was provided a few days later. I usually try to be super ethical with my returns, either not using/opening things at all, or only using a product/service enough to get a sense of whether it works for me before seeking to return or exchange. (And I try always to be clear but nice to customer service about the reason for my return…unless they aren’t transparent or nice with me. Karma.)

Currently I do a lot of business with Quarterly Co., so I do have a sense of what their boxes can be like. And though this one missed the mark, I’m looking forward to some of my other boxes like Nina Garcia’s, Eva Scrivo’s, follow-ups to My Subscription Addiction, and even the second box by Ms. Huffington!

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