Before I get to the heart of the message…
I wish to let you know that this is a very personal message from me, John, the founder of J&L Pogonotrophics; and difficult for me to write. Although I often reference J&L as “us” and “we”, in essence this is a one person operation and is my sole source of income. Those who have seen us out and about at festivals and such have met others that are part of the J&L family, who volunteer their time and services to help a friend get their business going to reap the benefits of future success. These folks are a part of the “us” and are affected by the current situation as supporters of my efforts.
Although you can find us online anywhere in the world, we are a local small business in Chicago. As we all are struggling to find means to support all those affected by this pandemic, we are struggling as well. From inability to replenish supplies to cancellation of in-person sale events; the temporary closure of shops that sell our goods and the diminishing of online orders; we are trying our best to keep going.
We are doing everything we can to sustain business. While many of our competitors, who are also small businesses, rely upon large scale or outsourced production and operations to maximize their profits; we do everything ourselves in-house with tighter margins (lower profits). That means we are feeling the impact sooner and more harshly. We have not only seen our sales decline, but website traffic as well during a time that is normally like a second Christmas for us. Our inventory is limited to everything we have produced as we cannot affordably source supplies at this time. With the increase in costs for supplies we are either forced to raise prices or lose orders, either way we lose sales. Due to the cancellation of nearly all public events and the forecast that COVID-19 will remain an issue throughout the summer, we anticipate all our festival appearances to be cancelled as well. This would be a devastating blow to our business as the festivals are a major revenue maker and a means to gain new customers.
The CARES stimulus package will not help us as we are too small of a business to qualify for any of the loans or grants. As the business owner, I do not qualify for any personal assistance as well, making this extremely difficult for me. Over the last 6 years or so I have grown tremendously as a person and as business. I genuinely love what I am doing. Most of all, I love knowing that I have touched the lives of folks in even the tiniest of ways. It is very endearing to have a gentleman gush about how much they love my product; that meeting me was a highlight of their life. How do you respond to that? All I could do is smile and thank them for helping me do my thing and that I hope I can continue to be here for them.
This post is a plea. We are asking all those who find benefit from our products, who enjoy what they do or how they make them feel to shop with us in any means possible. Grabbing a bottle of your favorite beard oil, or a bar of soap will help us sustain ourselves during this time. Honestly, any little will help. We have lowered our FREE SHIPPING threshold to $25, half of what it was previously. We will also be dropping the price of PRIMP+JOL CLUB to $17 which allows you to receive 10% off every item we make plus get FREE SHIPPING on every order. To support this, we are shrinking the size of our Welcome Gift, but overall this will be a great value if you use it more than twice within a year. Our mission with PRIMP+JOL CLUB was to make it easier for shoppers to order as they need and not be concerned about shipping fees. We also offer GIFT CERTIFICATES so you can easily gift J&L to others, or pay now and shop later.
If we make our sales goals for April and May, we should be able to sustain business through the summer as well as boost our advertising to let more people know about us. Every dollar will allow us to pay our bills and buy more supplies. It will also allow me to keep going, not just the business.
We know life for all of us will not be the same after this, but we trust that we will get back to being a warm and engaging society where we can mingle among each other in public. When that time comes, we hope to be back out there at festivals and meeting all of you wherever we can. Until then, stay safe and take care of yourself and those around you.
Thank you for being a supporter of this small business!
John C Dodge