Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Little Black Bag

Little Black Bag is yet another monthly subscription, which I'm sure everyone knows about by now, to fuel your on-line shopping addiction.  It started with bags and jewelry and has now expanded into other accessories such as scarves, leggings, hats, shoes as well as skincare, hair care and makeup items. 

It took me a few months to get started because I didn't understand how the process worked.  The program has changed slightly (well a ton) since its incarnation.  But I like now that there are a variety of starting prices not just $29.95 and $49.95.  You also have the option to skip the month with no penalties which is a nice feature.  If you choose not to skip that particular month, you will be charged a $9.95 fee and given a $10 credit.  

On the 1st of every month you are invited to add a bag to your cart from your "gallery."  But your choices are no exclusive to the gallery, the entire site it open for your choosing. You can buy a single bag or "bundle" it for a few dollars more and up to 3 stylist picks are added and the trading begins.  The picks are based off of a survey that you take when you open an account with LBB.  You don't see the stylists picks until you purchase the bag.  Surprise!  But you certainly are not obligated to keep any of the original items.  You can trade some, all or none.

On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday there is a preview of some items at 6:00 pm PST.  Be sure to friend LBB on Facebook for advance notice and photos.  They used to post YouTube videos as well showcasing the new items.  Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday new items are posted on the LBB website at 10:00 am PST.  You have the 1st-5th of every month to decide if you want to purchase, bundle or skip a bag that month.  Trading lasts for 7 days.  LBB emails you new trade offers, but you have to be quick.  The offer is sent to every member with the same item.  If you like the offer, accept right away!

Now, this isn't my first LBB experience.  I joined I believe early last year (2012) and finally started trading that summer on a week long vacation.  It was so fun (addicting actually) trading and interacting with members.  I remember trading away the original bag that I had opened up with, then regretting it, then trading to get it back.  I got so into it that I opened up a new bag (which you can do as many times as you want!) during that first trading experience...adding another $39.95 to the original $49.95.  Oops!  At one point, I had the bag that I wanted in 2 different colors.  Craziness!  It was really easy to trade up as well and members eagerly traded and offered reasonably.  This time around, trading was much slower and the offers were much lower.

Last summer a huge LBB box arrived and I opened up all my goodies.  I immediately had buyers regret.  The gold hardware on one of my bags was just too much for me.  It wasn't depicted any differently in the pictures on the LBB website.  But in person, it just was so shiny and fake looking. The other bag that I finally traded for was in a light brown/tan shade, a total departure from what I would normally consider as suitable.  Which I had wanted to break up my black bag collection but it just didn't work.  It also had a crease in it that bothered me.  A pair of earrings that I received were a bit chintzy and super long, I barely remember them.  I had one other silver bracelet that was beautifully detailed and substantial but it was just too big for my tragically small wrist.  And considering the entire LBB package cost just under $100, I didn't love the bags enough to justify the expense.  So everything but one bracelet, a cuff that I still wear on occasion was returned.

The return process was easy but it was a bit wonky back then, something like 33% back and there was a restocking fee...  Here is the current return process breakdown from the LBB website:

For refunds, we use the formula below to calculate the amount. Please note that you will not be refunded or given credit for any shipping charges or taxes/duties charged for Canadian shipping. 
Retail price of returned item(s)
-----------------------------------------     X   Price you paid for your bag  = Return amount
Total retail value of your bag
Here's an example using real numbers:
Returned item $25.00
-------------------------------------------------    X   Price paid $49.95 = Return amount $12.49*
Total retail value of your bag $100
Once a return is received at our warehouse, it will be processed within 2-3 business days and you'll receive an e-mail notification letting you know.
*The refund amount on an item can never be greater than the "Add to Bag" price of the item.

Sadly, I didn't take a photos!  Just of the box.  That's how fast I sent the package back.  Lol

This time around I had a $20 credit  after forgetting to skip trading for 2 months and with the Black Friday special guarantee of 2 bags, I caved.  I had been looking at this one particular structured Nila Anthony satchel for a couple of months.  I didn't open December's bag with that particular one, but ended up trading for it. I decided to go with the bundle and I received a stylist pick on a bag (valued up to $79 I believe) and 2 other jewelry items.

I didn't like the free bag the stylist picked for me but was able to trade it away for jewelry then back to the original Nila Anthony that caught my eye in the first place.

You receive a large LBB box and everything is wrapped in black tissue secured with a LBB sticker. Each bag is wrapped in a dust bag and then wrapped in plastic. 

So here's what I got! 

I opened my bag with this black Balibelts Studio Studded Hobo.  This bag is quite large.  It measures 19.5" in length x 2.5" in width x 13" in height.   I didn't actually take out a tape measure until the last day of trading to see exactly how big this bag was.  Which I recommend, the picture with the mannequin on the site can be deceiving... 

I did "panic" a little, worrying that it would be too big, and I would succumb to the same buyers remorse as the first experience, but fortunately I really like it.  I wouldn't mind if it was a touch smaller but I tend to carry everything, including the kitchen sink when I leave the house.  :)  The feel and look of the bag is luxe and the hardware looks authentic, not cheap and shiny. 


The only thing I find a bit annoying is the zipper.  As you can see in the middle right of the photo below the zipper just hangs out connected when the zipper is fully open.  I would have had the zipper disconnect at the end, as well as the ends of the zipper sewn into the side of the bag so that I could fully open up the center.  It's a minor grievance...

The second bag I received is a Nila Anthony Liam Structured Satchel in a deep chocolate brown with a pink suede tassel.  Originally I was worried it was going to be too "stiff" and boxy.  I have been looking for a structured bag for months/years really...   And this bag fit the bill and as a medium sized bag.  I can't over stuff it. 

At 11" in length x 4.5" in width x 9" in height, it also features a 3" drop top-handle and a 24" adjustable drop or cross-body strap.  Thankfully, I was able make a trade for it.  Love a happy ending!

It has a fun and stylish zippered fold over flap which is a unique feature.  It closes with a magnetic closure and there is also a double pocket feature under the flap.  The stitching detail and antique brass hardware are really appealing to me.  It does take a few seconds to get into the bag as you have to zip both ends up and back.  But its also a nice anti-theft detail...

It's just the perfect width and height for my planner, wallet and a smaller makeup bag. 

The bags are quite lovely and the quality is very nice.  Very pleased this time around.  The trading is a lot of fun and there is a chat room where you can interact with members of the LBB community.  I noticed this time that many members using chat knew each other and were forthcoming with information if you had questions.  Interacting helps you decide what items are "hot" and worth trading for.  Very helpful indeed.

Also during the trading process I acquired 2 Clairol Professional conditioners. If I hate them, I'm sure they will make good shaving creams!  Also a Moor Spa 100% Glycolic lotion.  They were wrapped separately in a bubble envelope.

Detailed reviews are far and few between on LBB bags so it's hard to gauge how your bag is really going to look and feel like.  New bags are added every week so the turn around is quick.  I'm a bit particular as well.   I searched and searched for any and all reviews of both of these bags and came up with nothing during my trading process.  So I hope this helps you! 

If you want to try Little Black Bag here is my link!  http://lbb.ag/b4dd  You will get 25% off you first bag and I will get a free product in my next bag.  Learning from my past mistakes, just keep calm, order a single bag and have fun trading!

Have you tried Little Black Bag yet?  What do you think about this monthly service?