We can all agree that Coachella has become increasingly more expensive than when it first began in 1999. That said, the unbeatable lineups, art installations, chef driven food and late night dolab parties keep us coming back every year – but after three days of forking over some serious cash it’s easy to go brokechella. Unless, that is, you smuggle your booze.
It was the rising costs that came with attending festivals that gave Jane Cusick, founder of Smuggle Your Booze – the company responsible for producing geniously deceptive, foolproof, products like the Iphone dupe-smart phone flask you’ve seen all over the festival circuit – the thrifty idea to start hiding booze in her bra.
“I’ve been smuggling booze my whole adult life,” says Cusick. “We’d go to all these festivals, outdoor events and concerts and I was getting sick of paying all this money, two-three hundred dollars for a ticket and then have to pay twenty-five dollars for a drink,” she says. “So I would put booze in a baggie, put it in three baggies to keep it from leaking and I’d stick it in my bra, then when I got into the event I’d get a glass of ice or whatever my mix was going to be and I’d make my own drinks.”
“Then with all outdoor events, they constantly remind you to bring your sunscreen, so after a while we started thinking we can come up with something,” she says. Which sparked Cusick to create her first three products, including the stealth sunscreen bottle. “We decided we’d do three products at once, the first one was a sunscreen, the second one was the tampon, because no one messes with a woman’s tampon,” says Cusick and the third one was the boobie bag, bags that fit right in your bra (inspired by her old smuggling days).”
An accountant by trade, Cusick used her contacts to put the business together – “It took me about a year but I finally secured my artwork, somebody to design and manufacture it and little by little I put all the pieces together,” she says. Cusick started selling at Orange County Marketplace, “Nothing was boxed at the time, we just had baggies and we’d put five tampons with five wrappers and stick them in. And people were lined up in front of our booth, it was crazy.”
“The plan was to just do it ourselves, go to tailgates and sell at local swap meets,” she says. Then right before Christmas, a man walked up to Cusick and her husband Frank at the marketplace and recommended they sell their product wholesale. “We decided we’d try it and we found a local box making company that made six boxes of each one and we took them to the ASD in Las Vegas (wholesale buying event) and we sold $10,000 worth of product in the first day. We called the manufacturer right away and said make more boxes.”
The Orange County resident attributes a lot of her success to Coachella, “One year they had KROQ out there and at the time we were selling at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and somebody came up and said, ‘OMG you have to listen to KROQ their talking about how everybody is walking around with sunscreen and drinking and pouring drinks out of it,”’ she says. “So we turned it on and one of the VG’s was like, ‘This is the weirdest thing but we see all these people with sunscreen and their pouring booze out of it.”’ “So yeah, Coachella was one of the first places that got us known and it just got crazy from there.”
Now, Smuggle Your Booze is fully operational and in six different countries, all over the United States and growing. “It’s an amazing and great business and we love it,” she says. “And we just keep adding, we have three new products coming out this year, so we’re working with our manufacturers right now to get those going.” Cusick is keeping the new products under wraps but says to keep an eye on their website and instagram to find out when they’re coming out.
Cusick says she gets tampon stories all the time, “People will come in and say, ‘Oh my god I couldn’t believe that I went into this festival with a tampon in my purse and they were searching everything and they didn’t even look at it and just let us thru.”’
“You just need to make sure when you take in your Smuggles you’re not being obnoxious about it, that you use it as a vessel to pour into something else,” she says. “It’s called smuggle your booze for a reason. As long as you go to events and you smuggle it in and you continue to smuggle it in, people aren’t going to see it.”
Cynthia Rebolledo covers anything and everything food, culture and spirits.