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Important Product Availability Updates: BIG BARs, Original Beard Butter, and More

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J&L is a tiny operation that takes on a lot of different production items. This has been a great thing for us, most of the time, but can also lead to hiccups or worse when things don’t run smoothly. With the significant growth we have experienced, it has put a strain on our capacity. This has been further negatively impacted by supplier issues. In the last year we have had either inventory constraints or quality issues cause cascading problems for us. And, during this time we have also decided to change to more sustainable packaging for most of our products that are currently in plastic containers. We are running low on our current containers and are awaiting the new sustainable packaging. We wish to report on what to expect over the next few weeks when it comes to our product levels in our store and at festivals this summer.

BIG BAR All-In-One Utility Bars

It is a very involved story on what is causing the low stock levels of these bars. There are many factors to why we are in short supply, quality issues from the maker of our core ingredient is the biggest impact. We have finally made progress into working with the changes to this base ingredient while the maker sorts out the root cause to the change. The issue is leaving us with a softer than desirable bar, very much unlike what we had initially with this ingredient. We have adjusted our formulations to give us a more firm bar while we seek new molds that will work better with this softer bar.

In the meantime, we need to change some expectations. First, it is important to say that the “density” of the bar has not changed the performance of the bar. In fact, the change we are making has only improved it! The bars will not be as smooth as before when coming out of the molds. We kinda like the rustic look, giving it a more home made farmhouse style. Until we get new molds, this rustic look look is our thing. The other expectation to have is that we are limiting unit sales until we can amass better inventory overall. We are seeing that before we can get well stocked on all options, a few scents sell out. This is causing a scramble to get more of those made – after all, they are the more popular scents. We need to bring some stability to it all and slow it down while we play catch-up. Once we are well stocked and in a normal production rhythm we will remove the limits. While overall the most of our bar sales lead to a variety of bars per order, some like to keep it to one scent. If there is a dire interest in a scent and you wish to have a quantity of 3 or more of any one scent, please contact me and we can find a way to custom order you your bars. There will be a time delay in receiving them, but we can do what we can to get you what you want.

Original Beard Butter

Another items plagued by ingredient quality issues. From receiving “bad” oils that were damaged by the summer heat to having a couple ingredients arrive with a stronger than usual natural scent that was overpowering OUR scents. Inconsistent jar availability and issues with them melting from the heat of the butter when poured into the jar created a monster. We have “un-tooled” our recipe to be back to the very original formulation but still having the added Vitamin E (tocopherol). We had changed the formula to remove Palm Oil until we could find an ethical maker/supplier and we also ran into supply chain issues with Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and Coconut Oil. In their place we used Mango Butter, Cupuacu Butter and Hemp Oil. We have removed Hemp Oil and Cupuacu Butter from the formula and Mango Butter is used in much lower quantities in combination with Shea Butter – they are quite closely related and help balance costs.

And, within weeks you will see our new GLASS jars coming along for the Original Beard Butter. They are a different shape but will contain the same quantity. And, they are the same price for us as the plastic! This serves our sustainability pledge as well as prevent waste from melted jars during production. Custom Scented options will see these first, as we have inventory made of the remaining plastic jars.

And More

Lotions and Beard Shampoo in our current “Tottle” bottles will start to become scarce. We wish to avoid buying more of these bottles in larger quantities until we can source a sustainable alternative. This is taking longer than we like. We have to deal with Chinese manufacturers and the import process. Finding a maker that will serve our smaller needs is very challenging. We wish to buy in 100s, they insist upon 10,000 or more units as well as have them printed with our labeling. That would also be 10,000 units of each different item – that would be about 140,000 bottles! The price would be great for us, but I have no idea where to put all of them until I need them! Until we get what works well for us, we may have to buy the current bottles as we go. That means, if there is run on products it may lead to in-stock delays.

UPDATE: We have found a source for our desired packaging to be used for Lotions and Beard Shampoo. These new bottles will lead to a change in available sizes. Currently, all lotions, beard shampoo and beard conditioner are in 180ml tube-bottles. These will change to 125ml (roughly 4.2 fl oz) for Beard Shampoo and Lotions, and a new 300ml (10.1 fl oz) bottle for a new larger size lotion. Originally all these items were in 4 fluid ounce tube-bottles until that size became unavailable. For the Beard Shampoo this will be a return to sizing that better suits the frequency of use. These new bottles meet our demand for a sustainable package that is "shower safe" and still biodegrade significantly faster and consist of renewable ingredients. We are excited for this change and hope to have these available by summer!

Liquid Soaps have been a huge headache for the last 3 years for me. Supplier changing the recipe without warning, Vitamin C that was oxidizing after packaging and a thickener that was precipitating out from the formula over time which led to a thick goo at the bottom of the package. I had reached the point where I wanted to be done with these items. Every step i took to fix one problem seemed to create more. I have thrown away hundreds of units of liquid soaps as they became unusable. With our eye on sustainability, it made sense to delete these items from our assortment. But then, the feedback started coming in about how much you loved these items when we got it right.

In the meantime, a new thickener came onto the market for small makers to use. It has proven to be AMAZING! We found a better source for our Vitamin C and learned about Ferulic Acid, which blocks the oxidizing. Oh, when Vitamin C oxidizes it turns everything brown. It is actually more easily absorbed by your skin in this state, but a tiny bit harder for your body to process. Since it is not as pretty when oxidized, we weren’t happy. With this drama behind us, I am taking another look at liquid soaps and hope to have our full line back in operation by mid-summer. Until then, what is in store is all there is for now as the remaining supplies are needed for the Beard Shampoo.

The Vitamin C issue was also affecting our lotions and foaming face wash. We never made a big deal of it as it was not a “negative” in regards to product quality. Aesthetically it is not great. Now with this matter improved, expect more out of our lotions. They are amazing!

When I say tiny, I mean TINY

We are a tiny operation… it is just one person doing it all. That means duties are split between production, buying, shipping/order processing, planning, development, design, marketing, and more.

We are also growing. That means more demand of my time and energies are needed to do all those things. Soon, I hope to have help. Until then, there will be extended periods of items being out of stock. I will place a higher priority to the best selling items for the time period at hand. I don’t want to lose sales of those lesser selling items, as many are just trying to get exposure to take off like everything else has. But there is only so much of me to have available. It is a game of spinning plates – some may spin a little slower, some may fall and break. I will do my best to try and keep them all spinning, but please understand that I am doing what I can to keep it all going.

Love, JC

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