Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Pictures: Retailers
We write about hundreds of products a week. Here in our version of the Sunday Flyer we have selected some of our favorites – recommended by experts essential, life changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gadgets and the very good deals we found while browsing the vast universe of online shopping last week, including a low-light leafy houseplant, Tiffany “New York” Pollard’s popcorn she orders from all coasts, and slippers cookie-themed cozy.
Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst sat down with candle expert and influencer Kudzi Chikumbu (known online as @sircandleman) with some burning questions about what makes a candle truly great. He explained his criteria and shared his favorite candles under $50, including one from PF Candle Co., which is a brand that makes “affordable, high-quality 100% soy wax, hand-poured” candles. Chikumbu recently discovered this black fig and describes it as “very intriguing, but not overwhelming. It’s ripe fruit, a little spicy, but also herbaceous. Imagine a cheaper Fig tree at Diptyque. is a great affordable option that is less fragrant and slightly sweeter.
If you’re looking for indoor greenery, we’ve rounded up a selection of indoor plants for gardeners of all skill levels. For “something leafy that thrives in low light,” consider this cast iron plant option instead of the ubiquitous snake plant. “You can’t kill them,” says Christan Summers, CEO and Founder of Tula Plants & Design. “They have a really sleek leaf shape that I always appreciate in the suppleness mix.”
During the winter months, strategist columnist Rio Viera-Newton writes that her “skin is incredibly dry, flaky, and virtually colorless—sometimes I look in the mirror and see Nosferatu staring at me.” Because of this, she relies on “an arsenal of hydrating, weightless makeup products to even out my mottled complexion, fake a little glow, and add a pop of color here and there.” That includes this blush from Pat McGrath, which Rio says is “a rather extravagant product” but “also really excellent.” She explains that most powder blushes “settle into the nooks and crannies of my dry skin and make the flakiness even more noticeable,” but this one is “a super silky, creamy powder that melts into your skin. once you apply it”. On top of that, she adds that it “lasts all day” – even with a face mask on, it “never leaves me with that uneven, weird look that can sometimes happen with powder formulas, and it’s incredibly easy to mix”.
“Even if you’re not a popcorn lover, you will be. It’s so delicious,” TV personality Tiffany Pollard says of this popcorn she can’t live without. She discovered Garrett popcorn when she was a guest on Steve Harvey’s show and received it as a gift. Now she’s “sent it to my location, whatever coast I’m on” and even offers it to friends and family. “They go crazy about it,” Pollard says. “I got calls after I offered it, and people were like, ‘Oh my God, what’s that popcorn? “”
Drinking glasses are often overlooked, but we like to think they deserve as much praise as other vessels. So we asked 21 of our favorite food, beverage and interior design experts their top picks, including Rebecca Carey, Food and Beverage Manager at the Viceroy Chicago Hotel. She pointed us to this colorful set from Italian brand Zafferano. “Using their products just makes me happy,” says Carey. She uses the Veneziano (amethyst) tumblers at home and says she gets “lots of compliments on them.” She also wore the Perle glasses (in cobalt) at work, calling the style “really striking and special”.
Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, and we’re already on the hunt for the best gifts for every type of lover on your list. If they’re extending their dry January or are sober, bartenders recommend this non-alcoholic spirit, which has notes of grapefruit and cardamom. “Seedlip makes a nice line of non-alcoholic spirits” that “add flavor and stickiness” to soft drinks, according to Bryan Dayton, founder and beverage director of Colorado-based Half Eaten Cookie Hospitality.
Giving teachers something right now could be more meaningful than ever, especially as school districts adjust to COVID-era guidelines. To find the best gifts for teachers that are both practical and personal, we spoke to over 23 teachers from kindergarten to high school about the gifts they actually want. Kate, a music teacher at a Boston-area private school, says personalized items can make “a great classroom gift.” Because “kids need to have crayons to mark their parts,” she would appreciate “boxes of crayons personalized with the name of the school or the name of the class or set.”
On this week’s episode of Don’t Dillydally, we shed some light on Champion’s latest pop culture collaboration. “This time they teamed up with Oreo. There are hoodies and slides and T-shirts, all of which have Oreos in different stages of consumption. There are half-eaten, whole, and even Oreos dipped in milk,” one writes. For a more subtle option, we love these “cosy” slippers that “still have enough Oreos to feel fun.”
Finding your Goldilocks suitcase can be a long (and expensive) search. To help you out, we reached out to some of the most traveled people we know (who are also smart and stylish) and asked them about their favorite rolling luggage. Travel blogger Jessica Ufuoma recommended this Monos carry-on because “it looks modern, sleek and minimalist… At the airport, it’s okay to dress casual, but this luggage makes it look like you make an effort and elevate every look.” Not only does it look good, it comes with a laundry bag, two shoe bags, and a built-in TSA-approved lock. And she adds that it’s spacious enough to pack for week-long stays. “I was able to fit eight dresses, three tops and a few shoes, plus some of my jewelry and skincare,” she says.
Through tomorrow, J.Crew is taking 25% off full-price items with code EPIC. Our Deals Editor, Leah Muncy, says she’s “particularly drawn to the brand’s new line of techwear-meets-prep recycled nylon tote bags.” If you’re also on board with the trend, the brand also offers a similarly styled backpack and belt bag.
The strategist is designed to surface the most useful expert recommendations on things to buy in the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural remedies for anxiety, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that offers may expire and all prices are subject to change.