Quarterly Co.’s subscription boxes may be a bit on the pricey side, but the contents are always exciting and unpredictable. If I can’t use what a box contains, I almost certainly know someone on my gift list who will appreciate it later. But the real fun of a Quarterly subscription is its sense of personality: Each curator brings his or her unique sensibility to the selection of items.
#JCS01 is Jessica Comingore’s first package for Quarterly Co. Jessica is a designer, lifestyle blogger, and, with over five million followers, a Pinterest superstar. In her Quarterly Co. mailings she promises “artisanal home items for simple and refined living. The products will be clean and sophisticated with a focus on materials and quality, designed to last you a lifetime.” In this first mailing, she spotlights mornings, presenting high-end items she uses to get her day off to a pleasant start.
Cost: $50 + $4.50/shipping. Mailings occur four times a year.
• The letter. All Quarterly Co. subscription boxes include a letter from the curator. With some curators–Maud Newton, Joel Johnson, and Mike Monteiro come to mind–the letters are one of the best things about the box, reaching out to the reader with deeply personal stories (like Joel’s tales of his beloved grandma, whose Depression-era background was the inspiration for the items he chose) or darkly comic narratives like the short stories Mike Monteiro built his mailings around. Other curator letters are more straightforward, detailing what is included in the mailing and why. Jessica’s letter is of the latter variety, its tone warm and friendly, walking you through her morning rituals of tea, granola, ablutions, and to-do-listmaking.
• Custom Tote Bag. Jessica understates this lovely, large cotton tote in her letter–she mentions it only in passing at the end. Turns out it’s a custom item made just for this Quarterly, featuring a silkscreened print of a watercolor by Jessica herself. The tote is quite wide with a flat, narrow bottom, and would be great for trips to the farmer’s market or park. Value: Hard to say. I reached out to Quarterly Co. for an approximate value, and they replied: “Hmm, that’s a tough one. For custom and exclusive pieces like this, we like to say priceless.”
• Stress Less Tea from Homestead Apothecary. “A blend of organic Rose Petals, Lemon Balm, Skullcap & Peppermint that relaxes your body and mind.” Value: $9.
• Ceramic Tumbler from Be Home. This small, elegant teacup is lovely in its simplicity. It’s glazed inside and unglazed (slightly rough to the touch) outside. Mine is an ivory color; I don’t know if other recipients got different colors. I think rather than drink out of it, I’d love to see it filled with flowers, a sweet mini-vase. Value: $18.50.
• Activated Charcoal Soap by Elegant Rose Boutique. A large bar with a wonderful citrus scent. This would make such a great gift for someone but I want to keep it! Value: $6.
• Natural Bristle Toothbrush by Swissco. Handle color: tortoiseshell. Comes in a plastic travel case. Supposed to be gentler on tooth enamel than synthetic bristles. I’ll be honest; I have a million kids and that means we go through approximately one zillion toothbrushes per year. A high-end brush is beyond my comprehension. But I have a sister who is very much into natural products, and this would make a great stocking stuffer for her. Value: $6.
• Small Notebook by Muji. Recycled paper, craft-brown cover, spiral bound, lined, 48 pages. Size A6 (4.1 x 5.8″). I love the small, slim trim size–a perfect fit for a purse. Value: $4.75.
• Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils (2). Possibly my favorite items in the box. These are top-of-the-line pencils and I’ve been curious to try one out for ages. Check out the Amazon reviews on these things: People are bonkers for them. Cool oversized and replaceable eraser, too. And I tested it. It (drumroll) erases, which is more than I can say for most of the pencils we’ve bought lately. Value: approx. $3.30.
• Another pencil, gold, brandishing the words POINTING OUT THE OBVIOUS. Not sure whether it, too, is made by Blackwing. Value: Let’s say $1.
• Jessica’s family recipe for breakfast granola. A charming addition to the box. Sounds pretty tasty, if perhaps a bit spendy in the ingredients area. Or maybe I’m just factoring in the appetites of my ravenous brood?
Total value of merchandise: Approx. $49 + the custom tote, which I would guess puts it at about $65-70 total. Since nearly all of these items would make great gifts for other people (which always increases a box’s value in my eyes), I’d say Jessica Comingore’s Quarterly is off to a good start. What do you think?