Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review of Little Black Bag

A few months ago, I started seeing Little Black Bag review videos popping up on YouTube.  I have to admit, my first knee-jerk reaction was not a good one.  In a time when we're being bombarded with beauty subscription services and all the "mint" sites (Jewelmint, Shoemint, Homemint, Intimint, etc.), I didn't really want to hear about one that cost about 50 bucks a month.  It didn't seem worth it, and the first video I saw talking about it was by a girl that I cannot stand on YouTube (don't worry, I'm no longer subscribed to her videos or her Twitter, which was even worse).  So, it didn't look likely that I was going to subscribe or even consider subscribing.  I didn't want to get stuck with something I didn't want, then struggle to trade it away.  The whole thing sounded awful.

I was wrong.


After my disappointing experience with DailyLook (review here), I was in the mood to get a new bag.  I had just ordered my new laptop and was wondering how I was going to carry it around, so I thought I'd try to find a cute laptop-sized bag.  I saw a couple more videos for Little Black Bag (one showed a really cute laptop bag), and I thought maybe they would have an option for me, since the bags I was seeing were all so plain yet so expensive.


Enter the Nila Anthony Color Block Belted Structure Bag.  It's the perfect size, is super soft, and is so bright and fun without being childish.  I saw it on the site, decided I wanted to give it a shot, and put it in my bag (cart).  Then the LBB stylists put two more items in my cart: a pair of Carol Dauplaise Faceted Tear Earrings (more in a minute), and these bangles:

My first reaction?  Aw crap, I already have bangles almost identical to these, but sparklier (is that a word?).  My second thought?  Okay, let's trade these puppies!  For those of you unfamiliar with LBB, the basic premise is this: You pick one item, be it jewelry, handbag, accessories, beauty, or home item, and then the LBB stylists pick two more items for you.  These will always add up to over a $100 value, but costs you $59.95 (one time) or $49.95 for a monthly subscription.  If you don't like any of your items, or if something else catches your eye, you can submit requests for trades for 7 days.  And that's precisely what I did... I started requesting trades.  A ton of them.  And then I waited...

My third item in my first LBB was the Carol Dauplaise Faceted Tear Earrings:


These look like a dark chocolate brown on the site, but as you can see, they're actually deep purple.  They do have some weight to them (makes them feel very high quality and durable), but they're not so heavy that they're uncomfortable.  I wouldn't run or bounce around with them in my ears, though.  I received a lot of requests to trade for these, but I liked them immediately and declined all trade offers.

After a few excruciating days of trying to trade the bangles, I finally had an idea.  LBB has a Facebook page, where they post coupon codes for discounts or bonus items.  So, I used the code for a bonus item and got a picture frame added to my bag.  I then combined the frame with the bangles and traded for a pair of Kenneth Cole earrings:


These earrings looked neon on the site, but as you can see, they're a much more muted shade of greenish-yellow.  I have blonde hair and I actually like how these look on me.  They're fun but subtle enough to not be obnoxious.  They also have some heft to them, but again, not too heavy to wear.  The quality is outstanding.  I was pleased with the trade, and after the 7 days (I left it open to explore my options), my cart was closed and my goodies shipped to my door.

The Verdict
I'm still not subscribed as a monthly member, but I do periodically look and see what LBB has to offer, and I have actually recommended it to some close friends.  The products on the site are made by reputable companies/designers/brands (BCBGeneration, Kenneth Cole, Betsey Johnson, Nila Anthony, Kenneth Jay Lane, etc.) so they're not cheaply made (or just bad knock-offs) like other discount sites.  And trading does happen - it is possible and it's actually quite addictive.  Shipping is good (ironically arriving in a big white box, as opposed to a Little Black Bag) and their customer service appears to be very responsive and caring.

My Advice
  • If you don't want to spend that much each month, don't sign up for the monthly membership!  The way I look at it is this: if I'm going to be shopping for a new bag or new accessory, then LBB is one site I will check out.  If they have what I'm looking for, I'll purchase it at a discounted price, plus get 2-3 extra little bonuses with my order.  But keep in mind - you can cancel a monthly membership at any time... so you can save some money if you find yourself regularly purchasing by just going to the monthly sub.
  • Don't rely on emails to alert you to good trades, since they're delayed and when a really good offer comes through, it gets snatched up quickly.
  • Look closely at the objects that are added to your bag by the stylists.  I can usually tell what they are by looking at the brand and price (just open a new window and look at the gallery and find what matches).  If I get something that won't trade well, then I think twice before purchasing that bag (unless I adore it and must have it) and attempting to trade.  Remember, new items get added every Monday and Thursday, so the inventory is always changing.
  • Think about your trades - don't insult someone by offering 14 dollar nail decals for their 40 dollar designer necklace.  It won't happen.  Add a second item to the trade.
  • Read comments and do your research early on - my faceted earrings looked brown on the site and they're actually purple, and the Kenneth Cole earrings looked neon yellow and they're not.  I saw one necklace I really liked that was so cute, then in the comments, someone had posted a picture of herself wearing it, and it was HUGE.  Not my style at all.  I would have been SO bummed if I'd gotten that because the picture on LBB didn't give me the impression that it was that large.  So, be careful, and chat with other users about the pieces - that's what the community is for!
So that's it... this is super long, but I hope it's helpful.  I really like the site and will definitely be purchasing again.  If you decide to join, be friends with me!  Click here.  (Non-referral link: littleblackbag.com)