December 2014 archive

Handmade Beauty Box

Handmade Beauty Box

Handmade Beauty Box

The beauty subscription box is nothing new. Birchbox, Memebox, and friends have been surprising subscribers with a monthly stash of beauty goodies for a while now. But newcomer Handmade Beauty Box puts a new twist on the genre: DIY. I never heard of DIY skincare and makeup, except for maybe using coconut oil as a moisturizer or hair mask.

I reached out to the company and its founder, Anne-Marie Faiola. She was kind enough to answer some questions for me via e-mail. Here’s what she had to say:

What inspired you to start Handmade Beauty Box?

I developed Handmade Beauty Box when I realized how much fun I was having crafting with my kids with their subscription boxes. I thought, “Imagine a DIY beauty box for me and my girlfriends!” I also noticed the popularity of my easy-to-use Bramble Berry soap kits, which made it clear that there was an entire group of people that wanted fully tested, skin-safe beauty and spa projects without having to spend hours researching techniques and ingredients. From there, Handmade Beauty Box was born!

How are you planning to grow the company?

I am so excited to grow the business over the next three years by listening to what our community of Handmade Beauty Box’ers is asking for. Moving into video is a natural as is expanding the scope of the projects into haircare and aromatherapy as well.

You are a beauty box subscriber yourself. What, to you, is the appeal of a subscription beauty box?

As a busy mom, I subscribe to both beauty boxes for myself and also crafting boxes for my kids. I’m constantly looking for shortcuts that help me have experiences as a family, and boxes make it easy for me as a parent. Plus, beauty boxes make it easy for me to try stuff without going in store.

Anne-Marie is quite the DIY’er. She is the owner of Bramble Berry Soapmaking Supplies, wrote a book called Soap Crafting, and is the writer of the Soap Queen blog.

I lack the Martha Stewart gene, but are you a DIY’er like Anne-Marie? Think you’ll try Handmade Beauty Box?



Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be

Woman I Wanted to beSimon & Schuster recently sent me a copy of Diane von Furstenberg’s new memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be. Thanks guys! Diane is just cool. This is a woman who loves adventure travel, and bought herself a Fifth Avenue apartment for her 30th birthday. When I turned 30, I was 15 pounds heavier than I am now, and living in a stranger’s basement in Maryland. Fifth Avenue? Wasn’t there yet.

You can imagine that Diane has a lot to say on topics such as love, getting to know yourself, and of course, makeup. She’s a makeup junkie who was inspired by her love of cosmetics to launch her own line in the 70s and write a beauty book. Who knew?

DVF on love: “Love is about relationships, yet the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. You carry the passport to your own happiness.”

DVF on getting to know yourself: Diane once told a graduating class of high school girls, “Become your own best friend. It is well worth it. It means you have to accept who you are, see all your faults and weaknesses. Having done that, you can correct, improve, and little by little discover the things you do like about yourself and start to design your life. There is nothing truer than discovering and accepting who you really are.”

If you aren’t a good friend and partner to yourself, how can you be a good friend and partner to someone else? I wish someone had given me this great advice when I was a senior in high school!

DVF on makeup: “The makeup I was personally using and loved was the professional stage makeup sold at the Make-Up-Center, a block from my first office. The little pots of reds, lavenders, turquoises and purples were irresistible to me, and I used to buy all the colors they had. I loved sitting on the sink in my bathroom with my feet in the basin to be close to the mirror and play with my face. I loved applying the makeup on others, too.”

DVF on insecurities: “More and more I was realizing from my conversations with women how many had insecurities. By listening to their insecurities and sharing my own, we all felt stronger. The stronger I became, the stronger I wanted others to be.”

Sometimes you get over your own insecurities when you realize others have them, too.

Think you’ll check out Diane’s book? In the meantime, I’m loving this classic DVF wrap dress, which I think Michelle Obama has worn.

All Dogs, Cats, Et Cetera, Go To Heaven

Pope Francis recently comforted a boy who was grieving the death of his dog by telling him that “heaven is open to all of God’s creatures.” Snaps to Father Frank. Animals definitely have a soul and go to heaven.

The Pope’s remarks brought to mind an assignment I did for my long-form journalism class this semester. The topic was leaving. We could write about leaving the house in the morning, someone dying, whatever. The point of the assignment was to write something that would elicit deep emotion.

My first reaction was, “I’m screwed!” My writing has the depth of an inflatable kiddie pool. So I decided to write a letter to my late cat, Tawny. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The instructor, Sherry, loved it. Since the best part of having a blog is having a platform to share things that might not get face time, I wanted to post it here.




One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was let you go, but I knew you were ready to rest. You fought the cancer for over a year, so it wasn’t like you gave up. I only realized much later you were holding on until you knew I’d be alright on my own after your companion Ricky died.

I miss you. I miss you navigating the apartment by rubbing your face on the sides of the wall and the door jambs. Your little “air traffic control stations.” I miss you standing in the kitchen bawling your brains out for your dinner, with your bowed front legs in the duck foot position. I miss you scuttling across the back of the couch, and purring in my lap while I watched TV. These memories used to make me sad, but now I find thinking about the happy, silly times comforting.

And just so you know, I am happy, baby girl. I knew you’d leave me in good paws, and Mesa and Pashmina are the best. Mesa is my silly climber who jumps on top of the cabinets and flings her 14-pound body from the refrigerator to the countertop, while I yell “Wonder Woman!” She has also been known to scale the chair to the top of the bookcase in the living room! What a freak.

Pashmina is a nester and expert hider. She loves to fold herself into a drawer or a cupboard. She particularly favors a yellow basket on the counter. Once, she disappeared, and I tore the place apart looking for her and calling her name. When I finally managed to locate her, she was sitting on a pile of towels under the bathroom sink, looking at me like, “You idiot. I’ve been here for 45 minutes!”

You’d like them both, T-ster T. And I think Ricky would, too. Thank you so much for sending them to me from where you are at the Rainbow Bridge. You need to know you and Ricky will always hold a special place in my heart, because you were my first cats as an adult on my own. I’m just sorry Grandma put you in the freezer, like Michael Jackson, until Grandpa got around to burying you four weeks later!

Love, Mom

Soul sisters Mesa (l) and Pashmina (r)

Soul sisters Mesa (l) and Pashmina (r)