WHO ARE YOU GUYS?
J&L POGONOTROPHICS LLC is the maker and purveyor (pretentious word for one who sells) of high-quality personal care products being sold under 2 specific brands: J&L Pogonotrophics for all beard, facial hair and masculine care products; J&L Apothecary Brand for gender neutral (this means it’s for everybody) personal care products.
Starting out with a couple beard oil formulas with an old time masculine image, we quickly expanded into other product types thanks to requests from customers and keeping our eyes on the natural personal care landscape. We invented Beard Butter (in name and in formulation) to create a versatile conditioning and styling product with countless benefits. With our offering gaining appeal by all kinds of men as well as women we created the J&L APOTHECARY brand. It is gender neutral by design, with a strong focus on performance over projecting an image to aspire to, or to define you. There is no underlying pretense, just quality natural products for your skin, hair and your entire body.
Between both brands, it is most important that they are of the highest quality, clean & natural and as affordable (inexpensive, not cheap) as possible when compared to other small “boutique” brands like ours. Our aim is to ensure our products are as natural as possible, not contain harmful synthetics, parabens, sulfates and we would never consider testing on animals.
With the growth of J&L Apothecary we are able to expand into many product areas. We have already introduced a Pet Shampoo and we have some ideas for future products for the kitchen and home.
My name is John Charles Dodge. Born in 1969 and grew up in Toledo, Ohio; most of it in a small split level house on the southwest side of town. Most of my youth was spent playing with Lego, listening to music, and doing my best to keep to myself and out of trouble. Having a desire to express myself in creative means, I spent a lot of time writing tiny stories, drawing and thinking. I did well in school in regards to learning, but did not do so great with the socializing. Being overweight, smart and quiet led to being aggressively bullied. The solitude I placed myself in is why I was able to hone my talents and build skills that helped me in my work and are foundational to this enterprise.
Professionally, I have 30 years in sales, retail, inventory and visual display/merchandising experience in big box and small specialty retailers. I started growing a beard when I was 14 as I hated shaving. From time to time I have had to shave for jobs I held but I have not been clean shaven since 1995. My academics were very science oriented but I opted to explore accounting as my education. A job got in the way of school, so I never finished getting a degree.
Having a beard is not a lifestyle, trend or any other layer to who I am. Like my fingers, toes and nose; it is very much a part of me. Honestly, I could never understand the hoopla about what a beard “means”. Taking care of a beard is necessary. It is hair and needs to be treated as such. It is also very specialized hair that is not formed nor grows the same as what is, or in my case was, on your head. Most guys don’t get this and it is hard to get men to try new things in regards to personal care. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a man with a dried out scraggly looking beard and have them tell me very proudly they don’t do anything above maybe washing it to maintain it.
Outside of J&L, when time permits, I spend my time with my husband Larry and our fluffy cloud-dog Zephyrus. I take part in a couple social organizations that work to support LGBT+ kids who are homeless or in need. We travel when we can get away. You can often find me sitting in my sun room lounge sipping Scotch and maybe smoking a cigar while listening to The National or other current indie/alternative bands. J&L does take a lot of my time and energy, it is a huge passion and anyone who as come into contact with me at events sees that passion.
My aspiration is to keep all that is J&L growing, slowly. To build a foundation of loyal customers and overall fans of what I do to spread the word. All of this I hope will lead to creating a boutique company and brands that can offer more to its community through providing jobs as well as great quality products to its customers.
Formation of J&L Pogonotrophics
We share over 50 years of “bearding” (yes, this ages us) experience and nearly as much experience with retail, brand building, merchandising, and have become growing advocates for clean living. We are a family owned boot-strap small business (we don’t have big debt or investors behind us); and proud of it! We call our type of business a “Tiny Business” as Small Business no longer means small.
The principle idea came from John. Along with Larry we tried many means of conditioning our beards that never really worked well for both of us. Some investigation into a recent big name beard oil Larry purchased, John saw a way to make it better and cheaper. A culinary interest lead to learning everything he could about natural fruit and nut oils that are commonly used in beard oil. From the start it was obvious that not 1 product would be ideal for all beards, so we made 3 formulas to fine tune the conditioning of the oils for different beards.
After introducing our first Beard Oil formulas in late February 2014, John went to work on creating the most ideal conditioning beard balm. A balm that would deeply condition, stick to the hairs and provide a little styling aid. By summer, the Original Beard Butter was introduced. Yes folks, we invented it and it was quickly stolen by others (still waiting for the royalty checks). This was not the end of our innovating, Junk Oil came soon after. We also started creating products for a complete solution for hair, skin and body all designed for bearded and hairy men. Well, women liked many of those products as well, and this is where J&L Apothecary came to be.
Based in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, we are easily found roaming about in the north side neighborhoods. We are strong supporters of various Chicago organizations and social causes. As a business we have no agenda other than to provide our quality products to those who appreciate them and to expand our appeal to more people to appreciate them as well. We may never be the biggest out there, and we are very OK with that. We merely wish to keep doing what we are doing and provide a choice.
Our future goals are to have a full functioning “factory store”. In this space you would be able to see how we make all our products, buy your favorite items as well accessories to help you enjoy our products. We also anticipate having a customization bar where you can have many of our items made to order for you by selecting from a variety of menu options. This will be a community space for people to enjoy
We have chosen to call this concept Primp & Jol. A name that covers what we are already doing and what we wish to achieve with our retail space.
We thank you for your time, interest and patronage. We hope you enjoy what you take away from us and will share your experiences with others as well as tell us what you think.
John & Larry