How much do you love swearing? Enough to order a mystery box of swear-themed merchandise? Enough to order a monthly delivery of mysterious sweary shit? For a whole year?
Emily Simonis, a graphic designer, embroidery artist, and self-described “resident profanity expert” in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is counting on a lot of affirmative answers. Her new subscription business, CussCrate, is dedicated to the proposition that people need, in her words and capitalization style, MORE PROFANITY. We at Strong Language agree! So Emily graciously sent a sample box for us (OK, me, Nancy) to review.
The subscription-merch phenomenon isn’t new: The original by-the-month subscriptions, at least in the U.S., may have been Book of the Month (founded in 1926) and Harry & David’s Fruit of the Month Club (1937), both of which are still alive and well. But thanks to e-commerce, the concept is enjoying a revival that started in about 2010, when the cosmetics-delivery service Birchbox launched. Since then, new subscription services — for razors, pet supplies, kids’ stuff, games, clothing, jerky, you name it — have popped up regularly. In fact, there are so many “box” services that there’s now a thriving box-review journalism beat (“The 50 Best Monthly Subscription Boxes,” “43 Subscription Boxes That Make Perfect Last-Minute Gifts,” “30 Cheap Subscription Boxes for $10 or Less”). If you’re starting small, like CussCrate, you can get business and software support from Cratejoy, which launched in 2014. (Slogan: “Unbox Your Side Hustle!” More on side hustle here.)
So what’s inside a CussCrate?
Right on top is an example of Emily’s own handiwork: a sweetly embroidered “Bitch, Please” sampler, ready for hanging.
The sentiment is universal enough — the embroidered-slogan equivalent of an eye roll — to be appropriate for almost all households and décors.
Emily’s original entrepreneurial venture, creating sweary embroidery, gave her the idea for CussCrate: Traveling to independent craft fairs, she met other sweary-preneurs and ended up tapping into that network.
Here at Strong Language we’re particularly fond of the “as fuck” intensifier (and its abbreviation, AF), so we approve of this kitchen accessory from Right Meow Decals. Our inner trademark cop, however, is less pleased by the Hello Kitty appropriation on the hangtag.
I also have reservations about these greeting cards from Potty Mouth Press. They’re attractively designed (and usefully blank on the inside), but it’s unclear to me who the intended audience is. A friend? An enemy? A frenemy? A collector of sweary stuff? Moreover, the identity and provenance of Potty Mouth Press is a mystery: There’s no URL on the back of the cards (or on CussCrate’s package insert), and when I did my own online search I found a different Potty Mouth greeting-card maker, which tells me the brand name is far from distinctive.
I put the tube of Bad Ass Bitch Balm, which appears to be a side hustle of Lighters Candle Company, of Prince Edward Island, Canada, to use right away. It has virtuous ingredients (soybean oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, aloe, and unspecified “flavour”); a light, pleasant fragrance; and an appealing texture. I also like the slight ambiguity of the name: Is it a balm for bad-ass bitches, a bad balm for ass bitches, or a bad-ass balm for bitches? All of the above, probably. I admit I remain a little puzzled about why bad ass is spelled as two words on the label and as one in the company slogan: “Badass Gifts with Attitude.”
So Dirty, a soap company in Jacksonville, Vermont, makes handmade soaps with an unapologetically handmade look (randomly colored, slightly lumpish) and slightly naughty names. In addition to Karma’s a Bitch (and So Are You), there’s Unicorn Sh*t, Stupid Hipster, Sexy Bitch, and — in season — Merry F*cking Christmas. Personally, I prefer monotone soap, but I’m willing to forgive So Dirty because I like the mild scent (which comes from “essential oils or phthalate free fragrance oils”) and the ingredients (oils, goat’s milk, and “real silk,” which I never knew was a soapy desideratum).
Bottom line: I added up the cost of the individual items and figured this box to be a good value and a fun way to expand one’s (or one’s friends’) sweary-shit repertoire. I like Emily Simonis’s moxie and her entrepreneurial spirit, and I hope she succeeds. (Note to prospective buyers: She ships throughout North America and says she’s willing to ship internationally, too.)
In an email exchange, I asked Emily what her favorite swear is. Her response: “I can’t remember the first one I learned, but I’d guess it was shit because that’s my dad’s favorite. I like most swears. But one phrase that I use a lot is ‘shit ton.’* I also, ironically, use fake swear words, like ‘cripes,’ a lot. I think that comes from my good midwestern upbringing ;).”
* We like shit ton, too.