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My Subscription Addiction
My Subscription Addiction
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My Subscription Life: Julie

Lindsey Morse
ByLindsey MorseJan 7, 2022 | 4 comments

My Subscription Life is a series designed to help you get to know the MSA team a little bit better. Each profile introduces a different member of the team, showcases their favorite subscriptions, and explores how subscriptions impact their lives. 

In this week's My Subscription Life, we're going to catch up with Julie, who has been with MSA since October of 2020. Julie joined the team as a freelance editor, but she's since stepped back from editing to work as a content strategist elsewhere. Julie still reviews Cairn every month, and she's also shared her thoughts on fashion and pet boxes in the past. Based in Portland, Maine, Julie is an outdoorsy kind of gal who enjoys nature, exploring her environs, vintage shopping, and blogging about her finds. The next time I make it up to Maine, it's on my list to call her up for a tour of the local foodie hotspots and tips for exploring "Vacationland." But for now, let's chat with Julie about her subscription life!

My Subscription Life: Julie

Lindsey: Julie, hello! Can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?

Julie: Hi! I'm Julie, writing to you from the lovely little city of Portland, Maine (the OTHER Portland). By day, I'm a content strategist for a marketing and branding agency (I work primarily in behavior change and food & bev marketing - meaning I run social accounts and create content for natural food brands and work behind the scenes to help people access services like SNAP). In my spare time, I run a blog – ByJulieSharp.com – and Instagram – @ByJulieSharp – where I share my love for local travel and the outdoors, and secondhand clothing and thrift shopping. I've actually been blogging since 2009, which makes me ancient by internet standards.

When I'm not at work or working on my side projects, you can find me outside – I love running, surfing, yoga, snowboarding, snowshoeing, kayaking, hiking... basically, I try to be outside as much as possible, which makes Maine the perfect place to be. And I love secondhand shopping and scouring flea markets for vintage decor – most of the items in my home were found secondhand, including my two cats, who I found on the side of the road! You can see them in the Smalls for Cats review.

Hmm... fun facts... I've lived in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and outside of Boston (along with New Hampshire and Maine) and used to work in the women's apparel industry for several major brands. And when I was in the 2nd grade I fell skiing and my ski went through my upper lip!

L: Ouch! What does your average Saturday look like? 

J: After working all week, Saturdays (and Sundays) are spent outside. It doesn't matter what season it is, my husband and I will pack up the car and either hit a trail or a mountain or head to the beach (or hop the ferry for a day on one of the islands). We're in the thick of winter here in Maine – yesterday, I went for a solo winter hike and this weekend I'm planning to go surfing (I received a winter wetsuit for Christmas and I'm so stoked to make this hobby a year-round thing!). He and I might also check out some secondhand shops or walk downtown for a coffee. We'll also try to get together with friends – right now we're doing a lot of outdoor walks and backyard fire pit visits because of COVID.

L: Can you describe a memorable birthday?

J: A few years ago, my husband and I went to Vermont for my birthday… in January. Yes, we traded one freezing cold state for another even colder one! The temperature didn’t get above 10 degrees the entire time, which, yes, we’re used to that but also 10 degrees is still freaking cold, even if you’re used to it. We had so much fun, though. We ate our way through Burlington and visited tons of vintage shops – two of my favorite winter activities: eating and vintage shopping!

L: When and how did you first discover subscription boxes?

JI found out about subscription boxes through Liz, who I worked with at ModCloth! I knew about Birchbox, but through her and the launch of MSA, I learned about so many more, but wasn't until much later that I actually began signing up for them myself. Outside of magazine subscriptions, I think my first true subscription membership was my Thrive Market membership, which I signed up for in 2018 (you can read my review here). 

L: What are your current subscriptions?

J: Cairn, Thrive Market, Calm, Peloton, REI Co-op (I think this counts - there are perks!), and Blueland.

For creating: Adobe, Splice, Color Story. Boxes I buy one-off: Detox Box, Laurel & Reed, Birch Box.

L: Which is your favorite subscription?

JFor improving my life, my favorite subs would be my Peloton Subscription and my Thrive Market membership. I use the Peloton app for guided runs and weight training – and this year for my birthday I'm planning on gifting myself the bike. Thrive Market saves me so much money on organic food and supplements – the protein powder I love is a solid $20 less expensive through Thrive than the chain store down the street (rhymes with "troll moods").

For FUN - definitely Cairn. I always love to see the themes that Cairn comes up with each month, and the products they find to fit those themes. The outdoorsy items are either things I needed or did know I needed – like a device that easily dries out my Camelbak water bladder.

L: If you could only subscribe to one box or service, which would it be?

J: So hard to choose! Let's say Thrive Market because they have a little of everything at a great price – clean beauty, plastic-free and sustainable home essentials, and organic and natural food and supplements. From a standpoint of pure sensibility, Thrive Market wins.

L: Describe your perfect subscription. 

JOhh, ok... if Cairn Obsidian (Cairn's premium outdoor box) had a baby with Laurel & Reed or another clean beauty box – I would subscribe to that in an instant. I would love to see an outdoor or active lifestyle box team up with a clean beauty box. I feel as though the two intersect really well and if there were an opportunity to actually choose what's IN the box – like with FabFitFun – that would be even better. I love subscriptions but often find that love at odds with wanting to minimize waste – how awesome would it be to be able to fuel outdoor activities and do a little self-care afterwards, all with items you know you'd use? Sign me up! (bonus if there's a monthly cat toy included)

L: Do you have a favorite subscription category? 

J: Besides the outdoors, I'm a huge clean beauty and skincare fan. I love discovering new-to-me brands and products that work for my skin. My skin recently went through a hormonal acne phase (what the heck - I was 36 at the time) that was so frustrating – it took a lot of trial-and-error to figure out what worked for my skin in this new phase and subscriptions really helped with that by introducing me to new products I wouldn't have otherwise discovered.

L: People gravitate to subscriptions for different reasons. What are your primary reasons for subscribing?

J: I reviewed Trunk Club a few months back, and one of the items I ended up keeping remains a go-to: the Milan Belt Bag. I also became a fast fan of Aimee Kestenberg bags - they're so chic but simple and the belt bags especially are versatile and minimal.

L: People gravitate to subscriptions for different reasons. What are your primary reasons for subscribing?

J: I've always loved receiving mail – who doesn't, really? I went to sleep-away camp for 9 summers, and my mom used to send me these fun care packages with little treats inside. Receiving a subscription box gives me the same delight of those packages – you don't know what's in them (generally), and there are little surprises inside. 

For digital subscriptions, they simply make life a little easier. For example, I stopped going to the gym at the start of the pandemic – which I still really miss. The Peloton app was able to replace at least a bit of that routine and provide a small sense of connection throughout the past couple of difficult years.

L: If someone offered you the opportunity to curate your own subscription box, what would you send out to your subscribers?

J: If I curated my own subscription box each month, I would want my subscribers to feel inspired to care for their whole selves. I would send a little note with a meditation, mantra, or journal entry idea to get them thinking, a beauty or skincare item to make them feel beautiful, and something to inspire activity – like a yoga mat or accessory, a running belt, some great hiking socks, a warm beanie, or some hiking essentials (like a compass, safety kit, etc). I would also include tips for getting started in that month's activity if it's new to them – and of course a pet toy or treat to keep their animal companions happy.

Thanks so much, Julie! 

Questions for Julie? Jump into the comments section below!

Lindsey Morse
Lindsey Morse

Lindsey is a professional baker, cold brew coffee addict, and rosé aficionado who loves writing about food and wine. When she’s not sharing her love of subscription boxes with the world, you’ll find her in the podcasting studio, perfecting her cake decorating techniques, or cursing her way through the New York Times daily crossword puzzle. 

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I am the least outdoorsy person ever but I love reading Julie’s reviews on Cairn. I learn so much about all the activities that the box’s’ contents help support or enhance in some way.

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Julie O'Boyle-Sharp

Thank you so much, Lauren – it means so much that you enjoy my Cairn reviews!

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Mary Zubritsky

Love this! Very inspirational. I love your website too.

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Julie O'Boyle-Sharp

Thank you so much, Mary!!

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