Plus, artful urns from a Brooklyn funeral home, androgynous swimwear, and Lucali's garlic candle
👋 Hi. Is this thing on? Is anyone out there? Maybe you’ve missed me, maybe you forgot that you had even subscribed to this newsletter, or maybe you altogether forgot that it exists. Either way, it’s been a while. I’ll explain why in a minute. As always, reply with questions, comments, or thoughts about anything you read here.
This issue features 19 brands. Fifty-eight percent are white-led, 16 percent are Black-led, and 16 percent are led by non-Black people of color. You can find the complete Chips + Dips inclusion index here.
The Chips 🔮
Myya makes post-mastectomy bras and prosthetics.
Barb makes gender-inclusive styling products for people with short hair.
Based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Sparrow bills itself as a contemporary funeral home and sells artful urns.
The Sixes makes pants for tall women.
Lata has an A+ assortment of tinned fish.
Block Shop Textiles partnered with Paboy Bojang to create ruffled throw pillows that perfectly embody grandmillenial style.
Otherwild’s Hirsuit line offers a collection of androgynous swimwear.
Kusî makes Filipino spices and condiments.
Pill Joy’s decorated pill organizers bring refreshing energy to a utilitarian good.
Joya Studio’s sautéed garlic candle, created in partnership with Lucali, is delightfully specific.
All The Bitter makes alcohol-free cocktail bitters.
Ridwell offers a solution for disposing of hard-to-recycle items.
The Dip 📌
I haven’t sent a newsletter in almost a year because I no longer know what to write about. I’m no longer energized by the things that earned me an audience and I don’t know what the next evolution of Chips + Dips can or should look like, if anything at all.
So here’s where I’m at:
Consumerism has increasingly felt like a distraction from the bigger picture. Digital-born, venture-backed businesses are fueled by a sense of urgency — messaging that tells you that you need this ASAP, with discount codes that discourage you from pausing to question whether you actually do need it, or even want it, or if you’re just being told that you should.
The urgency conveyed in DTC marketing translates to internal cultures, too. It makes it so that in order to achieve goals, employees can only focus on what’s directly in front of them. There’s little time to take a step back and examine the bigger picture, especially with a critical eye.
I left my job at a DTC company a little over three years ago. Removing myself from that culture of urgency allowed me to see things differently — namely that the majority of DTC companies are guided by the principles of fast fashion. We’ve grown accustomed to messaging about high-quality products at a lower cost. But the quality is often extremely mediocre and low costs typically come at the expense of those actually making the product.
But for the most part, I’ve simply lost interest.
Part of this shift has been guided by the evolution of my own priorities and how I spend my time. I’m investing in myself and my own growth in ways that I hadn’t previously. I’m less interested in keeping up with everything that’s happening and being first to know or see something. I’ve started opting out of trends and hype cycles entirely. I’m much more concerned with engaging in the world around me and immersing myself in what challenges me.
I’m finding myself drawn to businesses and people that seek to solve real problems and increase access, not offer cheaper alternatives. It’s not just what they do, it’s how they do it.
It’s strategies like non-coercive marketing, as outlined by Rob Hardy. And it’s Liz Jackson’s talk about disability and design, which illuminates the ways disabled people have been erased from their own stories and outlines the necessity of involving disabled people in creating solutions for all of us.
Companies and corporations won’t solve systemic issues, but they can create products that improve access and increase awareness of needs or challenges.
Just as important, they can choose to foster a supportive environment for employees. Diaspora’s queer business manifesto and Chani’s employee benefits are small acts of rebellion, pushing back against norms to say, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
If I used to feel energized by products and marketing tactics, I now care about people and ways of being.
I want people to feel safe and cared for, to be affirmed, to feel powerful.
I want people to find spaces that allow them to be fiercely and unapologetically themselves, so much so that pretending to be anything else becomes an impossible compromise.
I want people to put their own growth first. There is always room and time to change. We’re capable of more than we can know.
I’ve also been thinking about the ways in which nostalgia is a distraction. Looking to (and longing for) the past so that it can inform our present prevents us from looking to the future and facilitating change.
Real Dip 💎
Beet + sweet potato dip (a riff on a Falastin recipe)
Roast four golf ball-sized beets (or three tennis ball-sized beets or one softball-sized beet) and two medium sweet potatoes (or one large one) at 450 degrees until everything can be easily pierced with a knife — it’ll be at least an hour.
While everything is roasting, heat a three-second pour of olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add a few cloves of garlic and wait until they start to sizzle and brown. Add a half teaspoon of cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg and clove. Cut the heat and swirl everything around in the oil.
Let everything cool, then add the beets, a big pinch of salt, and the contents of the small pot into a food processor. Blitz it for about 30 seconds, then add the sweet potato. Blitz for another 30 seconds, add a big splash of apple cider vinegar, and blitz it one last time.
Swirl it with the yogurt of your choice before eating and, if you’re feeling fancy, sprinkle chopped pistachios and mint on top.
Plays well with roasted radishes, sliced cucumbers, and good bread.
Thanks for snacking,
— Emily 📅