Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Out of the Box Sampler Review, February 2015, Lots of Etsy & Other Discount Codes!

Most of us probably have some level of fascination with Etsy.  The idea of such a huge variety of handmade products in one place is quite seductive.  So how do you assess the quality of products available from individual sellers?  One really creative solution is a service that will send you a box full of samples and coupons from numerous Etsy vendors plus a few independent sites that sell handmade goods.

There aren't many of these services around but one is called Out of the Box Sampler. This is not a subscription company but they do make boxes available on a regular monthly basis. Boxes go on sale at 8 p.m. EST on the first Monday of every month. Competition for these boxes is fierce and they generally sell out very quickly.  

The regular size sampler box contains 17-18 different business samples; sometimes more and sells for $27.00.  They also have a "Bodaciously Bigger" box that ranges in price from $50.00 to $72.95, depending on how many vendors participate that month.  The February box contained 45-47 product samples.  Those big boxes are the first to sell out....within minutes or hours of going on sale.  So if you want one of those, you really have to pounce!

My February box literally arrived FOUR days after placing the order.  It came in a USPS regional flat rate box with a satisfying heft to it.  As you can see, a cornucopia of products spilled out of the sealed brown paper bag inside.  The edible products were packaged in a Valentine's Day themed cellophane wrapper and placed outside the brown paper bag to keep them separate from the scented items. (Note:  If you're sensitive about smells, this is not the box for you.  Most of these products are highly scented.)

A pink card announces the "Queen of Hearts" theme for this box and their featured sponsor (i.e. an Etsy business that pays for prominent placement).  For February, the box sponsor is Cellar Door Products which sells some interestingly named bath and body products.  

First out is a cute little tub of pink lotion scrub in "Ruby Pomegranate" from The Daily Bather and a double bagged sample of Sweet Citrus Body Butter from Teddy and George. During the month of February, you can get 30% off all products in their Etsy store by using the code FEBSAMPLEBOX.

Next is a really cute cupcake-shaped mini bath bomb from Hill Mail Order Company, a blue heart-shaped mini soap from Slippery Slope Soaps and a "Love Drug" massage tealight from the same company.  The heart-shaped soap has a nice floral scent but the tealight doesn't seem to have much smell at all.

Would it ever occur to you to make a Twinkie scented melt?  Well, here is a sample of one from The Melt Shoppe and it does indeed smell like a Twinkie!  The other item is a shower spa tab from Spa Diva.  Place this on the shower floor, turn on the water and it dissolves in seconds leaving you with a nice aromatherapy experience. Use code VDAY14 for a 14% discount in their Etsy store.  

I'm not sure if the next item is a tart or a bath melt but I'm guessing the former because the card says it's from Jewelry in Candles, which looks like a site that uses a rep system to promote their products.  This one is a Valentine's exclusive in the scent "Pink Champagne". Next is a wax tart from Candle Confectionery which has mouth-watering food-scented candles, many of which look just like the food they represent. Just take a look at this Spiced Apple Pecan Spoonful Bowl and tell me if you want to light it or eat it!

In keeping with the "Queen of Hearts" theme, there are more heart shaped samples...a wax tart from Ugly Duckling Designs in "Strawberry Jelly Donut" scent and a mini heart-shaped pink soap from Soapsational.  The back says "Candy Apple Sugar Scrubs" but this heart does not look like that product in her shop.  It looks like a soap so I'm not sure if this is mis-labeled but it does have a nice scent.

The little green dots are a sample of Eucalyptus Lavender soy pebbles from Macee Leigh, another rep site.  These can be put in a warmer or just left out in a bowl to scent the room. The "Champagne & Roses" tealight comes from Old Soul Artisan.  I love the sophisticated scent of this one!  In celebration of their first month in the Out of the Box Sampler, they are offering 15% off your entire order with the code FEBRUARYOOTBS. (exp. 3/31/15)

One of the most generous samples in the box is this almost 8 oz. candle in a small glass jar from Hannah Made Gifts.  The scent is "Love Spell" which is an imitation of Victoria's Secret's well known body splash.  It is described as "a luscious fusion of citrus, cherry blossom, hydrangea, apple and peach, with a hint of blonde wood". To my unschooled nose, a light citrus is the dominant scent...very, very nice! 

Next is a pink heart and anchor vinyl decal by The Creative Adult, a site that sells all sorts of decals that can be used to decorate your vehicle, laptop, backpack, books...wherever creativity strikes.  They also do custom design work which might come in handy for the entrepreneurs among us.  The mini note card is a sample from Eternal Girl, a store that specializes in hand drawn henna-inspired jewelry and gifts.  Use coupon code OOTBS for 20% off your purchase in her Etsy store.

If this were not clearly labeled "Double Chocolate Sugar Scrub", there's a pretty good chance it would get mixed into a milk shake around here.  This looks and smells exactly like dark chocolate; absolutely decadent!  This little pot comes from Cellar Door Products, the sponsor of the February box.  It is a nice generously sized sample.

The next two items are quite cute and seem appropriate for a young girl.  The first is a pin with an artsy heart design on it from Art Altered, an Etsy shop that specializes in badges, pinback buttons, magnets, pocket mirrors, coasters and ponytail holders. Use code OOTBS20 for a discount.  I don't see the amount of the discount anywhere but it may be 20% based on the code.  Probably the most creative item in the box is this Fred Flintstone bottle cap necklace on a blue bead chain from The Jewelry Box, an Etsy store that has all sorts of fun and crafty items.

This little sheet of stickers is meant for use with a planner but they could also be stuck on a wall calender.  This comes from Decorate the Day.  If you're into fun planner decor, you need to visit this shop!

Now for the really good stuff....the edibles!  Unfortunately, there were only three of them in this box.  (I remember receiving a lot more in the past.)  First is a small package of pink cotton candy from Fluff N Stuff, a fun website full of cotton candy and popcorn.  (Who knew cotton candy came in so many flavors and can be packaged in so many cute ways?)  The gourmet lollipop comes from an Etsy store called Home and Family.  This one is Strawberry Banana flavor.  The big iced heart sugar cookie (which is long gone) was from Deliciously Chocolate which specializes in favors and treats for weddings, birthday parties, showers, anniversaries, etc.

Guess what?  I'm done!  Aren't you glad I didn't order the "Bodacious" box with 45+ items to review!  Out of the Box Sampler is a fun box to receive and review.  I don't order this type of box very often because the contents tend to be fairly repetitious; boxes always contain a lot of tarts and mini soaps.  Those are fun to use but it can take me many months to go through them all.  I thought this box was well worth the price paid and it did have a pretty good variety.  My only complaint is that there were not enough food items!  Vendors do change every month (some do repeat) so the mix between edibles and sniffables can be quite different from box to box.

There are some coupon codes available for vendors whose items were not represented in this box.  I believe their samples were probably in the "Bodacious" box.  If you're a discount junkie, you might be interested in checking some of these out.  I've indicated expiration dates where known but you may need to act fast if you're interested in trying the others.

Joie Joelle Creations - 15% off with code JOELLE15
   (candles, bath salts, oils and aromatherapy products)
3SisCountryShop - 20% off with code OOBHEART, exp. 3/31/15
   (soy candles and tarts)
Shweet Potato Dolls and Patterns - 15% off with code SHWEETSPECIAL14
   (handmade primitive dolls and patterns)
Re*Storied Designs - 20% off with code OOTBS
   (glass ornaments, bath & beauty products, hand-crafted paper decor, planters)
Wild Root Naturals - 10% off first order with code SAMPLESROCK2015
   (natural handmade beauty and household products)
Mother's Nature Store and Consultations - 20% off with code NEWYEAR
   (aromatherapy, helping you reach a better state of body and mind)
The Naked Villain Society - 15% off next order with code HEYOOTBS, exp. 3/1/15
   (candles, soap and lip products)
Kutie Krafts - Free shipping on orders of $10 and up with code OOTB14
   (handcrafted jewelry)
Sweet Escents Natural Skin Care - 20% off skincare products
   (handmade lotions, soaps and sugar scrubs)
NaturesLovingTouch - 20% off with code NEW20
   (all natural body scrubs, skincare products, dishwasher & laundry soap, etc.)

The theme for Out of the Box Sampler's March box is "Madhatter Madness".  Get there early if you want a box, even earlier if you want a really BIG box!

Thanks for sticking with me through this very long review.  Let's support these independent sellers!


Disclosure:  Views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own.  Product discussed in this post was purchased by Lone Star Shopper. Post does not contain referral or affiliate links.

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