epically epic: awesomely awesome (alliteration) – part uneSunday, February 13, 2011 6:00
Hokai! This is the first time I’ve ever written a review of a company/product, and I’m not quite sure how to go about it. But meh, best to stick my feet in and go with the flow!
I’ll still do my life-and-such blurbs, but hey ho, having something new for me to blog about can’t be a bad thing. YM really does need a bit more literary love, to be frank.
This review is exceptionally longish and is in two parts, for a few reasons – I like my reviews in-depth, yes; but this one contains quite a bit of “in-context” stuff. Simply put, I mention how the goods compare to what I was using previously, because I know where indie-product-virgins are coming from (it’s nice to be able to refer to a more familiar product/situation and see how much better the handmade goods are.)
Epically Epic Soap Co. (or EE for short), run by Allison, is a New Mexico-based Etsy company that has been around since 2008. I chanced upon it when I had my accidental lucky stumble into the world of indie/handmade goodies (thanks to Google + Sirvinya, Ana, Phyrra and Grey among others.)
The shop is chock full of vegan bath and personal care goodies – it sells a variety of soaps, solid lotions, roll-on perfume oils, lip balms and hydrating hair + body mists. That’s not all they’re chock full of…I’ve heard many a glowing review about them, so they ended up being on the top of my “to-try” list.
Now I’ve long been a sucker for nice-smelling not-so-synthetic body stuff (I swear it’s a girl thing!), and I’m lucky enough to be studying at a boarding school where a Lush outlet is about what, a 15 minute walk into town? However, Lush’s prices are a bit much and I’ll admit there are some times where I’ve come out from a browsing session at their shop with a bit of a headache, even if their stuff is lovely. Ditto The Body Shop: close to “home”, but also grossly overpriced. Thankfully the headaches when I visit there are nonexistent.
Also, I do quite like the idea that I’m buying from a person instead from an impersonal name/logo, which is where buying indie stuff excels. You just know that the genuinely good sellers are not all out to maximize profit and short-change others. I love my people, I’m not a misanthrope!
There’s not much I can say about the site organization because it’s on Etsy, but product images and listing descriptions are comprehensive and will ease the most nervous of Etsy newbies. And if you’re still unsure, there’s always a good Etsy convo to set things right.
Prior to placing my order, I’d convo’ed Allison to find out which of the solid lotions were her personal picks/customer faves. I got a prompt and friendly response back, which pretty much sealed the deal – it was just a matter of getting on that proverbial shopping cart and whizzing all the way to the checkout line.
Here’s what I chose for my first order – clicking on the links will take you to the respective Etsy listings:
- I Love Lychee Roll On Perfume Oil – this one got shedloads of raves, and being full-blown Chinese, I *do* love my lychees. It’s been a while since I’ve had a fresh batch of them though.
- Sampler Set of 5 Mini Solid Lotions – I chose Caribbean Sea, Midnight (Jasmine), Margarita, Green Tea and I Love Lychee.
- Lip Balm Trio - Picked Vanilla Coke, Fuji Apple and asked Allison to surprise me with the last pick because I was tossing-up between Mango Lychee, Mint Choc Espresso and Coconut Lemongrass.
“No soaps, Ari?” Freight for soaps is generally stupid (it’s an international thing, not just on a seller to seller basis) no thanks to the weight, and I still have stuff to use up anyway – darn stockpiling tendencies. So soaps will have to wait till next time. But my DKNY Red Delicious perfume bottle was resembling the Sahara anyway – ditto my Strawberry Chapstick and Palmer’s Solid Cocoa Butter Formula tub. Besides, those were the ones I wanted to try the most – talk about good timing!
Prices are extremely fair in my opinion – the perfume oil is definitely cheaper than an EDP bottle containing more than 5x the volume, and sometimes you -do- wonder how much of it is proper fragrance. (Also, the alcohol in some formulations can be mucho drying!) Same must be said for the solid lotions – I’ll compare them to my usual Palmer’s tub after this.
The only thing that might be more expensive per unit would have to be the lippies, they’re a bit more than my usual Chapstick fix. However, EE’s lippies come in a unique variety of flavors, and Chapstick’s extensive ingredients list full of incoherent-sounding chemicals was a bit freaky. Bear in mind I’m an A2 Chem student – it’s not like I don’t know what some of them chemicals are/do or how to pronounce their names, dang nabbit.
shipping , packaging and a slight hiccup
I placed my order on the 22nd of January and it shipped on the 24th, which was a pleasant surprise. My package arrived on the 31st: lock, stock and two smokin’ barrels. Color me impressed…both with the speedy packing/shipping and the not-so-inefficientness on Royal Mail’s part, as UK post is notorious for being dead slow! Freight charges are usually a pain when you buy stuff from overseas (why are HMRC such big bloodsuckers?!), but I found the $7 I paid to be pretty fair. Some people pay more than that and it still takes them forever and a day.
Everything was there, “dressed” to the nines: the perfume oil carefully cushioned in bubble wrap and wrapped in zebra paper, the lip balm trio and sampler set in lovely cardboard boxes with padding and colorful twine. The whole lot was packed in a recycled box cushioned with tissue, and came with a printed invoice along with a handwritten thank-you. Nothing was smashed, squished or mutated – so far, so good!
Then I opened the boxes and was left a bit puzzled. Here’s why:
Two of the items I got weren’t what I ordered – I got 4 of the solid lotions I requested for, but the fifth one was Married To The Sea instead of Midnight. Ditto the lip balms – Fuji Apple and Allison’s pick (Mango Lychee) were there, but I had Gummy Bears instead of Vanilla Coke. Odd.
After a quick convo with Allison to find out if it was just a mislabeling thing or a genuine oversight, it turned out that there was a mix-up on her husband’s part. Pablo here had recently started helping Allison with packing and shipping duties. Everybody, altogether now: aaawww! (I’m serious – how supportive is that?) You can’t find any fault with that…sure, we want minimal hiccups when processing business orders, but we’re human and it happens.
In any case, Allison offered to replace the mixed-up items for me, which were sent by priority mail on the 3rd and arrived on the 9th, give or take a day (I forgot the exact date!) Along with those, I got a complimentary tube of Mint Choc Espresso, which was very sweet on her part.
EE’s customer service rating? Vegeta said it best: it’s OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAAAND! Downright friendly and professional handling of hiccups make my millennium.
I was very pleased – and I hadn’t even gotten stuck into the products yet!
Part Deux of the Awesomely Awesome Epically Epic review is right this way – it’s a proper product scrutiny.
DISCLAIMER// Married to the Sea and Gummy Bears were mix-ups, and Mint Choc Espresso is a complimentary item, so I didn’t pay for those three. Other than that, all products mentioned in the review were purchased with my own dosh. All opinions on every product mentioned here are my own.