What To Read: Tyler, Alex, and Serey are recommending things
This week, we interviewed Tyler Bainbridge, Alex Cushing, and Serey Morm, three friends and curators who write Perfectly Imperfect, a newsletter about curated recommendations on clothing, books, movies, and more.
What’s your Substack about in one sentence?
Perfectly Imperfect is a twice-a-week newsletter featuring good ol’ fashioned curated recommendations from real people.
How did the three of you come together and start curating recommendations?
Perfectly Imperfect was born out of a deep love for curation and discovery. For years, the three of us had been doing deep dives and recommending things to each other, so we figured we'd use the medium of newsletters to share our finds with others in a format that feels light, personal, and fun.
We've since taken a backseat and only share recommendations from the three of us once a month. That way, we can keep the spotlight on guests such as Andrew Chen of 3sixteen, Chris Black of How Long Gone, and Claire and Gutes of The Drunken Canal. We hope to continue spreading the wealth of good taste by offering an intimate glimpse at what cool people are into, one recommendation at a time.
I love the title and logo of your publication—all bright colors and Comic Sans. What energy are you trying to create?
Tyler was sitting on the name Perfectly Imperfect for years, and its sentiment was exactly what we wanted to accomplish with the newsletter. We wanted to create something authentic and low-key that never sacrificed on substance, and we think it has this unpretentious vibe that has helped us grow a following in a crowded space.
As for the look, none of us have any real design skills, so to avoid any major whiffs we decided to really lean into that. The basic two-color gradient in the title, Comic Sans, collages, and primary colors reference a simpler era of internet blog culture.
You talk about breaking away from the algorithm and getting recommendations from real people. Why is that important, and what is your curation process?
These days, it's so easy to stay in our own hyper-personalized algorithm bubbles and just throw on whatever show Netflix thinks you’ll like or cop the rug Instagram keeps putting on your feed. We think it's pivotal to break out of your day-to-day autopilot and challenge yourself to try something new. You might just discover your new favorite band, go-to recipe, or that you really enjoy tennis.
Our curation process is pretty similar to what we encourage with Perfectly Imperfect: try to find people you admire and pay attention to what they're into. However, don't just replicate someone else's taste – use it as a jumping-off point and expand upon it!
You cover all sorts of topics, from food to clothing to music. Are there other categories that you want to expand into?
We tell our guests to recommend anything they want, so it’s intentionally left open-ended. Whether it’s Molly Yelon’s “Being obsessed with myself” rec or Claire Banse’s praise of “Day Old Acai Bowls,” we love when recommendations are unconventional and fun!
How would each of you describe your taste?
Tyler: For me, it’s all about having a deep respect for the classics while paying close attention to what’s happening in the underground. I also think it’s important to not take things too seriously – it’s all about that high-low baby. I can get as much enjoyment from Entourage or Jersey Shore as I do a Wong Kar-Wai film or Brian Eno record. No “guilty pleasures” around here!
Alex: I can describe my taste with two of my recommendations – there’s the CouchCoaster end of the spectrum and The Fisherman end. I love to appreciate the unnecessary yet oh so necessary things, what we didn’t know we needed (my couch had no place for my drink!), but that doesn’t mean I don’t love to spend hours of my days trying to find just the right book to scratch a certain itch (I was looking for that realism-horror-folklore-style book for weeks!).
Serey: My recs usually revolve around the things that I can’t quite get enough of. From that song that's been on repeat, to the perfect-fitting hoodie that makes its way to every errand, or that dish that always ends up on the dinner table. At the end of the day, I hope that someone out there can share that feeling that I get from these recs.
Who’s another Substack writer you’d recommend?
Big shoutout to our friend Elise Bang’s Substack, twenty three tabs. She has the same deep respect for curation as us and is constantly interviewing cool people while sharing recommendations of her own. Keep your eyes peeled for the first episode of her new podcast, incognito tab, which uses Substack’s audio post feature!