Monday, June 24, 2013

A Guide to Little Black Bag and My Experience

Hey everyone! A couple weeks ago I basically traded my life away on a website called Little Black Bag. If you're a present member of the YouTube beauty/fashion community you will surely have heard of it. I was inspired to place an order after seeing Elle (allthatglitters21) do an unboxing video because I thought everything she got was super cute and trendy!

All the goody goody gumdrops I got from my first LBB purchase! Ouuuuuuuh, ahhhhhhh

How the website works: 

Basically, you browse all of the items in the website gallery and you pick a main one that you love, then you check out, and Little Black Bag will surprise you with 1-3 additional mystery items for free! (You only get to see which items you got when you check out). Then, if you dislike the supplementary items you can trade them with other online users.

An overview of my trading:

Before I continue, I thought I'd do a quick run through of how my trading went so you can have a better idea about how it works. I had been skeptical about LBB in the past just because there was no clear indication re: the trading process, so let me fill you in...

The item I opened with was the "33rd and MAD by Koret croc crossbody" in the colour taupe. As my mystery items, I received a pair of ugly earrings, an awful ring, and a phone case. This is how I ended up with the items I shipped. "-->" indicates a trade.

Ugly earrings ($18) --> nicer pair of earrings ($16) --> Michael Marcus nail polish ($15) --> NCLA nail wraps in a nude colour ($16) --> NCLA nail wraps in "Electric Gradient" ($16)

For the necklace, I started off with an awful $18 ring and gradually traded up (maybe about 6 times) until I landed on the "All The Rage Multi Row Necklace" worth $26! Sweet!

Purple "Greene" iPhone 4/4S case ($26) --> Pink "Greene" iPhone 4/4S case ($26)

I added the "Restricted" sandals afterwards for an additional $45 that came out of my own wallet.

General observations/tips & tricks:

  • Before you even pick your first item, the website has you fill out a fashion/beauty questionnaire so that they can tailor your mystery items based on your picks. I'm not sure how closely it actually follows that survey because the only item that slightly made sense was the phone case (because I checked off "tech accessories" as an item I would like)
  • Keep in mind that Little Black Bag stocks items that are commonly sold in stores like Winners, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. Only ship items you find unique, and never pay too much $ for a bag, especially if it's in shipping charges.
  • Before shipping, look up photos of your items. They may look different than how they do on the website!
  • Open a LBB at the beginning of the month because there will be more active members online, and trades will occur much faster and easier.
  • Make sure you open a LBB during a week where you're not too busy. If your goal is to trade for specific items, or to trade up for items of higher value, it's going to take days. Luckily, you have a week to finalize your shipment so there's plenty of time, but make sure you have time off so you can make the most of it!
  • LBB is filled with experienced traders. Many of the people on there are stay-at-home moms who place order after order after order. They know what they're doing and will sometimes take advantage of first-time traders. (EDIT: I've now been told by at least 4 separate readers that I am sorely mistaken on this - take from it what you will. Let me just add one thing: don't get discouraged by the competitiveness of the website. That's all!)
  • Before you accept a seemingly good trade, make absolutely sure that none of the items you're getting are sale items (unless you like them and intend on keeping them). I almost accepted a trade on my taupe Koret purse for an offer that contained two BCBG bags. After a bit of research, I found out that they were sale bags that don't do well in trading at all
  • Only trade for items of lower value on two conditions: 1) the item is well sought after amongst LBB users (to know this, you can see how many "hearts" or "likes" the item has). (EDIT: Apparently I'm wrong about this too. A better way to find out if an item is popular, survey the chat room and look at the news feed!) 2) If it's something you love and intend to keep/close with.
  • If you're looking for more expensive items than what you've got, trade up slowly. If you start off with a $16 item, trade up to $17, then $18, etc., until you make it up to something you want.
  • If you want to buy shoes, make them your starting item. It's rare that someone else on the site will have your size/have the specific style you want, so shoes are impossible to trade for. In hindsight, I would have opened with the shoes and tried to trade up for the crossbody.
  • Survey the chat room to see what people are up to, who's online, what items/brands are popular and what kind of things people are trading for!

    Using the Chat Room & Understanding the lingo:

    First of all, you can find the chat room by clicking "Connect" then "Chat".

    As mentioned, the chat room is a great place to get insight on what's popular and how trading on LBB works. Unfortunately, LBB doesn't have a direct messaging system, so this is really the only way to interact with other users. It's also a great way to let people know you're online and trading. Drop a link to your profile so people can see what you've got to offer.

    You'll need to understand some abbreviations & lingo that people in the chat use. Here are a few that I've taken note of...

    • Multi: For big ticket items (handbags, mostly), people will offer more than one item in a trade. This is called a "multi".
    • High: When people are wondering what the "high" is on a specific item, they want to know what the highest offer amounts to, that way they can match it.
    • Sale/Nonsale: In response to the "high" on an item, someone might say, for example "$100 sale/$70 nonsale". Sale refers to an offer that contains sale items, and nonsale refers to an offer that doesn't.
    If there's an item you really want, let people know in the chat room and leave a link to profile - you might be able to work out a deal! Also, if you're unsure about something let it be known in the chatroom. Although some do take advantage of first-time traders (as I mentioned), most will be happy to help you out!

    My items:

    All The Rage "Multi Row Necklace"

    So this item wasn't very popular on the website and was actually offered to me in a trade. It hadn't caught my eye in the gallery but the more I looked at it the more I liked it! After doing some research, I found out the All The Rage isn't one of the best brands on LBB - it's basically really cheap jewelry shipped from China. That doesn't actually bother me though.

    What I liked about this necklace is that there isn't much hardware so there's no danger of tarnishing or turning my skin green. It's entirely wrapped in different colour string and has a few metallic bits dangling. I thought it was super unique!

    I've already worn it once and as you can see, one metal bit has already broken off and the black string on the lower part has begun to unravel. That said, I'm still pretty pleased with this necklace and I find it relatively easy to style. Here's a picture of me wearing it out this weekend!

    (I'm on the right.)

    Next up are these awesome NCLA nail wraps in "Electric Gradient". I was so excited to find out these were stocked on LBB since I would never pay $16 for them IRL. I've already tried out the turquoise/lemon ones and they look super cool. I'll be doing a full "how to" and review of these soon!

    There's not much to review about this item per se, but I'll just mention that I'm really pleased with the quality of this case! It feels really sturdy and holds the phone well. I will say that the photo on the website is slightly misleading, because I thought the case was going to be embossed (with the diamond shapes), but it actually isn't. It's completely smooth on the exterior. Not a disappointment whatsoever, but it was a little misleading. If you're on the market for a new phone case, this is a great option.

    Finally, the item you've been waiting for... The 33rd & MAD by Koret croc crossbody in taupe. This is the item I opened with and, of course, my expectations were high. I have to say, my expectations were definitely met! The only thing is that I thought it was going to have a patent finish, but it's actually completely matte. I kind of like that better though!

    It comes as a crossbody but you can also unhook the strap and use it as an oversized clutch. It also comes with a band that you can attach to make it into a wristlet, which is cool. It's the exact size I anticipated so that's really nice. 

    The inside is a little tacky but nothing I can't handle hahah. It also comes with this little mirror attached on the inside, which is super handy! Overall I would totally recommend this bag. I've already worn it out and it holds all my stuff really well. Currently on the website, they have the same crossbody in stock, except in the mint colour, which is think is nice too. They also have the satchel version in stock, both in the mint and taupe colours. 

    Last but not least, the only item I received that I was disappointed with. These are the shoes that allthatglitters21 showed in her haul, and I thought they looked adorable! Admittedly, they still do in the photo. The thing I'm not impressed with is the quality. The back of the shoe where the heel goes is lined with felt that you might find at the dollar store, and the colour doesn't even match the coral of the shoe. Also, there's all kinds of stitching out of place, and it's overall made very sloppily. 

    Additionally, my feet are arched so when I put these shoes on, the front detailing doesn't stay centered but rather pulls to the side, which I find quite unflattering on. Once I find out how to do so, I will probably be returning these and getting a refund or a store credit.

    Final impressions:

    Overall, I had a great experience with LBB. The trading was super fun and addictive and I can see why there are so many LBB veterans. I also saved about $90 by using the website since all of the items on there are super discounted!

    Will I be ordering again? Probably not, although I would like to. It's just that the shipping for this box was crazy. I'm guessing shipping within the USA is probably cheaper, but since I live in Canada it was really pricey. I had a 25% off code (DGVR164) which is valid for first time users, so I managed to knock off ~most~ of the shipping fees, but unfortunately LBB doesn't offer coupon codes on subsequent orders.

    So in conclusion, I hope this post was helpful! Let me know how you feel about LBB in the comments below! If you would like to make an order on the website, feel free to go ahead and use this link: - it's a referral link that will give me store credit once you check out :) (I'm not special or anything - you'll get your own link once you sign up haha). 

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