Today I'm going to pretend I'm an Influencer by talking about the brands I love!
This isn't groundbreaking content, just some simple reflections about/around the brands I continuously patronize.
We'll start with the most obvious of the three - Glossier. SHOCKING, I know - another young millennial who loves this pink-ass, Instagram-powered, pop-up shop princess of a brand.
At this point in pop culture, Glossier is as basic as Blue Bottle Coffee, loving HAIM the band, or eating avocado toast and posting a picture of it on social media. In other words, Glossier must be freaking great because all of those things are also freaking great. In other words, there's nothing wrong with loving something that is basic because "basic" is just another way of saying, "hey, this thing is relatively accessible and considerably better than other options." I'm about it.
Things I like about Glossier:
Glossier is the perfect introduction into the world of makeup for someone who hasn't purchased a new mascara since 2013 (SORRY). I'm incredibly intimidated by a lot of the culture surrounding beauty regimens and makeup. The YouTube tutorials, the lip kits, the brushes, the cost of it all, and the fact that makeup is literally painting (sometimes very chemical substances) onto your face for all the world to see. Yikes!
I first looked into Glossier because I wanted to level up my skin care game. I had heard (seen) a few friends (people I follow on the internet) talking about it (posting about it), so I decided to dip my toe in. I started with the Phase 1 Set, which was a delightfully simple place to land. I love that there are just enough options to play around, but not enough to be overwhelming. I think a smaller product offering makes a brand appear more trustworthy, which is maybe irrational, but that's what's happening in my brain.
I like that their price point is reasonable, their packaging is simple and delightfully cute, you get stickers, and their website has funky cursors of palm trees and cherries and things. Branding on point. They show actual photos of actual humans wearing their products without a ton of other makeup on, so you actually understand what it could look like if you put the stuff on your own face. The entire experience feels playful and light, which is the opposite of a lot of the classic makeup brands who aim for a smoldering, sexy, expensive aesthetic. The playful component is exactly what encourages n00bs like me to dip my toe in and rub some Cloud Paint on my cheeks. You don't need brushes or primers or powders. You just need one product that you can put wherever you want to on your face using the brushes that your mama gave you (your fingers). Also, something about Glossier's branding makes wearing makeup feel like it's for and about me and not about pleasing or impressing anyone else. It's an extension of the colors I wear everyday. It's a quick little self-love ritual that makes me feel like I'm glowing when I leave the house to go to Aldi.
A few things they could work on - I don't need stickers, a pink bubble pouch, and a fancy white box every time I re-up on my moisturizer. I wish it was something I could opt into or out of each time I purchase. Secondly, their fragrance smells like Swedish Fish. Which is fine - if you want to smell like Swedish Fish.
To end on a high note, Glossier brand ambassador's wore pink jumpsuits at the New York City showroom pop up, and now I want a pink jumpsuit.
Next on the list, THINX. Another example of how excellent design, branding, and communication can sell a product that could otherwise be super intimidating. THINX sells panties that you can wear while you're on your period "as a replacement or back up to traditional period products." Again, I'm about it.
THINX first popped onto my radar probably around 2015 in the form of massive billboards around Los Angeles with beautifully art directed photos of real looking women wearing simple black panties posed in an elegant still life fashion. A lot of the billboards simply said "THINX" or vaguely hinted at the function of the product they were selling. The image stuck in my brain, so I gave it a Google. I was pleased to discover a well-designed website offering a simple selection of panties with the promise of a comfortable, mess-free experience. I bought one pair and was delighted by the packaging and accompanying illustrations and messaging. The voice of this brand is your smart, honest, and dangerously funny gal pal who is down for a flea market or salsa dancing, and who will never ever judge you for divulging details about sex, period, or other bodily things. I love her. She's the best.
Things I like about THINX:
The panties themselves are as advertised - slim, well-fitting, comfortable, never bulky, and I have yet to have any incidents with leaking. I bought one pair, and then I bought three more in various styles and colors. Each one makes me feel good while on my period. I don't feel like I'm wearing a diaper, and I don't have to put foreign, disposable, wasteful objects up inside of my body. It's a win-win-win-win.
Similarly to Glossier, THINX's Instagram feed is more than a bunch of hyper-curated photos (boring). It's actually full of interesting and informative conversations about sex, health, and bodies, and it has lots of cute illustrations and inspirational quotes to balance it all out.
In addition to their social feeds, THINX has a killer blog, Periodical (lol) where they tackle hard-hitting taboo-bursting topics like "What's in My Vagina?" and "Your Guide to Better Period Sex" which is LITERALLY *clap* the *clap* voice *clap* the *clap* internet *clap* needs *clap*. Sorry, but I am so hyped to see a brand demystifying and destigmatizing conversations about vaginas and the things that happen in and around them. AND they're providing a real valuable resource for people who don't have someone to talk to about those things. Our bodies are beautiful and when (really distasteful) penis and blow job jokes have been commonplace in pop culture since at least 2000, I think it's about damn time we're allowed to talk about vaginas and periods in public spaces.
A caveat - I still have one box of tampons. I use them when I'm going swimming and for a few other specific occasions, but aside from that, I'm all THINX, zero stress, and not even feeling a little bit gross about it.
Last, and perhaps the most iconic Midwestern pitstop of all time, Cracker Barrel. A very different aesthetic from the first two brands, but an aesthetic I will praise nonetheless.
If you have negative feelings about Cracker Barrel it's probably because your little brother threw up in the mini van on a road trip from Cleveland to Hilton Head when you were in fourth grade after eating Cracker Barrel for lunch. I get it. That's disgusting. But I highly encourage you to open your mind to the possibility of Cracker Barrel being a delightful experience. Next time you're driving to Cincinnati and you start seeing those Billboards with the big white copy claiming absurd things like "BISCUITS ARE SPOONS YOU CAN EAT," don't think too much about it, just exit in 18 miles and soak up the southern charm with some down home cooking.
Things I like about Cracker Barrel:
A meal at Cracker Barrel will be satisfying for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they're easy to come by. It's always convenient and well-timed. You're hungry? There's probably a Cracker Barrel within 20 miles of your current location. It's pretty challenging to spend more than $20 per person at a cracker barrel. A coffee, a meal, and some dessert will leave you feeling perfectly full, and don't forget to ask for some apple butter with your biscuits and/or cornbread.
Although you're in Ohio, your waitress will undoubtedly have a bit of a Southern drawl, she'll call you "hun" or "darling," and she'll keep your sweet tea topped off. While you wait, you can check out the memorabilia on the walls, play the peg game, or people watch. On your way out you can buy some camouflage Jelly Beans, a Yankee Candle for your Great Aunt, and the latest pop country hits on CD. Also, who doesn't love a rocking chair? Snap a family portrait all lined up in those chairs before you get back on the road.
Full transparency, I'm just a huge fan of mashed potatoes, corn bread, biscuits, and apple crisp, so obviously, Cracker Barrel is the best. The real reason Cracker Barrel has made its way onto this elite list is because of its incredibly silly copywriting and the fact that it is like Disneyland if Disneyland was made by your Christian, Southern, sweetheart of an Aunt. From the grits to the gift shop to its relatively impressive Instagram following, Cracker Barrel is a highly intentional brand who is extremely aware of its consumer and will never try to be anything it's not. I respect that. Context is everything, and I-71 South is the ideal place to stumble upon a Cracker Barrel for dinner.
An honorable mention goes out to Hebrew National for this Instagram post, and for making a really solid, kosher hot dog. Give them a follow while you're at it. They could use the encouragement.
Thanks for letting me play Influencer! Byeee