Me and my girl, Erica Euse.
Saturday was Sweetest Day, a holiday you're probably only familiar with if you grew up in the quietly desperate middle west of the United States like I did. In a nutsack, Sweetest Day is like a fall version of Valentine's Day, except instead of it being celebrated for hundreds of years by millions of people all over the world, it was created by greedy Cleveland candy companies in the 20s and only people who live near the Great Lakes know what it is.
My girl is from Northeastern Ohio, so Sweetest Day is just as serious to her as an anniversary or a birthday. And that's fine, because even though I enjoy dick and fart jokes, I'm a pretty romantic dude. I've served up some seriously smooth-daddy Sweetest Days in the past… with the exception of last year.
In 2012, I ruined our special day by drinking an entire bottle of Hennessy in front of VICE cameras under the behest of trap rappers Waka Flock Flame and Gucci Mane and ended up in the ER. Although the story is a source of humor to anyone with an internet connection, to the lady who loves me, it was scary. To make it up to her this year, I was determined to cop her some great gifts for Sweetest Day that scream, "I FUCKING LOVE YOU, GIRL. SORRY I RUINED SWEETEST DAY AND THANKS FOR VISITING ME IN THE HOSPITAL AT 5 AM WHEN I WAS IN A BOOZE COMA."
Through my relentless search on the internet, I discovered three new amazing companies run by people with vaginas that make cool stuff for other people with vaginas. I was so inspired by their very different but awesome missions that I thought I'd share them with those of you who are shopping for lady lovers. Maybe bookmark this article for Chrismukkah? Or, just buy some shit right now. Remember, anytime is the right time to compensate for your inability to express your feelings by buying things.
Check out these cool new companies!
Photo by Sunny Shokrae
Laura Kim (a project manager here at VICE) and Hally Erickson started Total Pleasure, an online vintage retailer that hit the internet earlier this year. The site is the perfect representation of the collision of style happening on New York's streets, where ladies rock experimental masculine stuff with traditional garments and pair high-end brands with knock-offs—all to get at something unique, exciting, and new. I had a quick convo with Laura about the her site.
VICE: How'd this whole thing get started?
Laura Kim: Hally and I started thrifting together more and more, getting really weird shit and egging each other on. And then we kind of combined styles and formed this hybrid identity. After awhile, we couldn't find the pieces that we wanted, because we were looking for really specific things. So, it just made sense to start our own shop that has the stuff we were looking for because it's not readily out there.
How would you describe the clothes on Total Pleasure?
We buy birthday outfits. We'll style something that was intended for sleepwear as something you'd wear out. Or put a hoodie over lingerie. Juxtaposition is really at the core of our aesthetic.
Can you give me some tips on buying for my special lady?
If you do right, it's so good. It's part intuition and part risk-taking. Get weird with it. But not too weird. My ex-boyfriend once got me a bracelet and drew a bagel on it. It was a shitty drawing and I was really bummed about it. I wore it the first day and never wore it again. That's the kind of stuff you want to avoid.
What's your girlfriend like?
She's a big fan of assorted carbonated beverages.
I've got the perfect look for you. I call it "The Nectar of the Gods." It's a classic look with Mountain Dew pants. She can do the dew… and then do you.
Word. These are pants crazy and making me thirsty. Thanks Laura!
Check out the Mountain Dew Pants over at Total Pleasure.
The online retailer Zoetik was started by Northwestern grads Viv So and Jason Choi back in April with the goal of cutting out the middleman to bring fresh jewelry to girls at fair prices. I caught up with Viv So to learn more about how they can sell bling-bling at prices broke brothers, like me, can afford.
VICE: How did it all begin?
Viv So: My partner Jason's family is in the jewelry business. One day we got to talking about how many mark-ups there are in the industry. Say a big low-price retailer sells a bracelet for $5, it probably cost them about a penny to make. That bracelet has to go through middlemen, and with each step it takes, the price goes up. So, naturally, if you cut out the middleman, you can get much better jewelry for a lesser price, which is what we wanted to do.
You guys change designers every month, right?
We have a capsule collection apart from our classic collection that we curate. We find the designers through a submission form that you can find on our site and we choose the designs that resonate with our brand and are unique, but also cater to the Zoetik girl.
Let's say I made my girlfriend really angry, what piece of jewelry should I buy her?
I would say a delicate chain because if she throws that thing at you, it won't hurt as much.
Good thinking. Do you have any freaky, naughty, or sexy jewelry?
Definitely. The body chain.
Oh yeah, that's hot.
Yup. She can wear that and nothing else [Laughs].
When you guys started the company, how'd you figure out which styles you'd sell?
We just do what our friends are attracted to, and not what they're turned off by. Some girls I know are always complaining about bad jewelry that gives them rashes. They shouldn't have to put up with that. We're nickel, lead, and cadmium free, which are three big metals that can give you a mild allergic reaction. Copper is the one that turns your fingers green. Our stuff is plated with real gold and rhodium so it doesn't turn your skin green or give you a rash.
Yeah, fuck that. Green digits would be the worst gift ever. Thanks Viv!
Check out the Gold Bars and Pearls Body Chain at Zoetik.
Outlaw Soaps is a funky-ass suds-and-lather operation that Danielle and her hubby Russell Vincent started in 2012 in California. They craft natural handmade soaps with scents that take you back to distinct memories. It's the perfect way to make your girl remember that special night on the beach. I had a chat with Danielle to figure out how they get whiskey and bacon into a bar of soap.
How did Outlaw Soaps come together?
Danielle Vincent:I used to be a digital product manager. Around last year I started thinking that I didn't want to do that anymore. I wanted to move out to the country and have a farm. One day me and my husband were driving through the country side and we stopped at this little farm store and picked up a bar of soap. Every single day I would look at that bar of soap and I would just smell it. One day I discovered that it only had seven ingredients. I realized I had paid $7 for something I could make myself and I said "Hey, I bet I could do this." So we made our first batch of soap with bacon fat.
No wonder I like your soap—it's got swine in it.
Yeah, you can use whatever fat you want… even human fat.
Really? In that case, you guys should make a soap entirely out of Klansmen—it would smell like ignorance and bed sheets… How do you come up with such crazy scents?
I just kind of started playing around and discovering scents. I found a supplier, who has recently discontinued their whiskey scent—so I have the last ten pounds of whiskey fragrance in the world. I used it to make Hair of the Dog. It has a really smooth odor. The scents of my soaps aren't novelties. They're more of a lifestyle choice. A fair amount of people like smelling different.
What's your girlfriend like?
She's a tough chick, and she likes to wear lots of black.
She sounds like a Bunkhouse Stampede kind of girl—It's clove, orange, vanilla, and a bit cinnamon. The cloves are ground up in it for exfoliation. It's sexy and spicy. It's like adding a little cinnamon to your coffee in the morning. Its refreshing. It's also one of our goth-y soaps, because of the cloves.
Gothy cloves sound perfect. What's the story behind that?
Everything we do has a memory attached to it. I used to smoke cloves when I was a kid. There are a ton of shitty clove scents out there, but the one we use reminds me of going out behind the school and smoking clove cigarettes and going to clubs when I was underage.
Sounds awesome. Thanks Danielle!
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