In Good Taste, for a Good Cause
Designer Susan Alexandra details a new community fundraiser, in which you can bid on "starter packs" curated by your favorite iconic New Yorkers.
Graphics courtesy of In Good Taste
I, for one, would like to win a bottle of Tart vinegar and a virtual writing workshop with Naomi Fry.
In the midst of T-shirts, print sales, and tie-dye, as we’ve grasped to support one another in lieu of sufficient institutional support, a new online fundraiser has arrived. Called In Good Taste, the initiative invites a charitable donation in exchange for bids on “starter packs”: a surprising-and-delightful array of objects and experiences selected by a group of culinary and cultural New York icons. Each $25 virtual ticket puts you in the running to win a few of their favorite things, by a few of their favorite makers.
The seeds of In Good Taste started sprouting back in March (not unlike, say, untold numbers of earnest windowsill scallions—a phrase that, these harrowing nine months later, feels like scratchy sandpaper to type) as the brainchild of a few creatives with ties to the food world: pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz, project manager and former Altro Paradiso GM Kelsey Shaw, creative director Emily Eisen, and designer Susan Alexandra Korn.
In particular, the organizers hoped to support and showcase the makers and business owners whose products are included in the packs. For co-organizer Susan Alexandra, purveyor of the NYC-made beaded it-bags whose own starter pack features a ceramic dog vase by artist Katie Kimmel and a custom pet candle portrait crafted by her artist-sister Janie Korn, running her own small business this past year has been tricky. “It’s been hard to have a brand that’s about joy when so many people don’t feel joyful,” she says. With In Good Taste, she and her fellow organizers sought to address the myriad spaces of need within the dual (and overlapping) pandemics of COVID and racial inequality: “We have to be very relevant and read the room, and see where people’s needs are.”
In this first raffle round, titled “Tastemakers,” one could hypothetically win, among many other things: a mezcal negroni kit and a gallon of olive oil from chef Samin Nosrat; a pocket knife and a Winona Ryder tee from Bon Appétit editor Andy Baraghani; a pint of gourmet vanilla ice cream and pre-rolled CBD joints from pastry chef Auzerais Bellamy; or a $50 gift card to Macon Hardware, a Black-owned business in Bed-Stuy, and a one-time-only pass to join a drunken Facetime book club session between comedian John Early and his mom. All proceeds from the raffle tickets will benefit two New York organizations: New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), a long-standing nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable immigrant families in the city, and Good Call NYC, a 24/7 arrest support hotline that connects people to a free attorney with one phone call.
As with so many aid efforts that have begun during the pandemic, Alexandra notes, the fundraiser would need to be “very online.” The idea behind the meme-y starter pack format came from—where else?—Instagram.
“We were doing this initially early March, April, and remember how, for a moment in time, if you opened Instagram, it was 75 people Instagram Live-ing at the same time?” she says. “We were like, ‘People have no attention span. We’re glued to our phones all day. We just need something that's really catchy and visual.’” Alexandra, whose brand has been oft-“starter packed” by the hyperlocal Instagram account @starterpacksofnyc, hopes the project can expand to new cities soon, to grow their circle of community fundraising and, well, good taste.
Of course, that means—more tastemakers. Who is Alexandra’s dream starter pack get? If we’re thinking big here, maybe Amy Sedaris or Fran Lebowitz.
“I don't know, Rihanna?” she wonders. “Whose closet do I want to raid for $25? Who’s iconic?”