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A note on discounts and pricing

Recently I read a post by a friend complaining that a business only discounted their prices 10% for a sale. In their opinion, such a discount is too little and hardly worth it. That in fact, nothing less than 20% should be considered a discount.

I was floored with this personal opinion as a business owner and as a consumer. I do feel that it is sometimes true that a 10% discount is not attractive enough for me to make a purchase on certain items. My opinion is more closely tied to how much of a necessity the item may be. I will always comparatively shop for many items and factor in hidden costs like shipping and ease of purchase. If I have to drive to save 20% and can have it shipped free for 15% off then I may opt for the lower discount because it saves me time and effort.

I started thinking about our pricing strategy here at J&L. We rarely have sales, we offer few discounts and specials throughout the year. There is a very real reason why we don’t. We already operate off of very tight margins. After we factor in our hidden costs we don’t have a lot of room to give big discounts. We have even been told our prices are too low, that people may feel that we are of lesser quality because of our prices. That is simply just plain wrong.

We could simply raise our prices and then offer an array of sales, promotions and discounts. This would skew our inventory and production schedules to meet anticipated spikes as well as mean that when a customer is in need of a product they are paying a higher price so at another time they can save. In the end, for a regular loyal customer, they are paying the same if not more.

Our pricing strategy has always been to make our products as affordable as possible within our niche industry. Along with the intent that the user will get the best benefit out of the product by using them as they are intended and not too sparingly that the long range benefits are not adequately achieved. It is not lost upon us that many of our products cost more than name brands found at Target, Walgreen’s or even the local grocery store. Those products are not within our niche industry. When you look at brands like Lush and The Body Shop you will find we are on par with ingredients but our retail pricing is substantially lower. Even looking at some of the specialty brands you will find us to be comparatively priced and sometimes even cheaper. For example; our Lip Balm is $3.00 for .25 ounces while Burt’s Bees runs $2.79 to $3.89 for .15 ounces – that’s 40% more balm for roughly the same price and we are using the same ingredients.

We may not run sales and big discounts but we strongly feel we offer a great value when it comes to natural personal care products. This just means that when we do offer a discount it is something special above our already great prices.

Share with us your thoughts, we love to hear from you what you think.

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Into the Scent Matrix

We honestly love producing so many varying scents. From traditional basics like Lavender and Citrus; to our very one-of-a-kind creations like Jakarta, Oceania and the new Shanghai we try to give a broad array of fragrances. Our hopes are that you will find at least one you love and others you like. It has been hard for our customers to decide which scent they like most.

Outside of our Beard Care we have not done the best job at spreading the scents across many of our products. People want to coordinate their fragrances and we have been not quite meeting that expectation.

As we transition through some older options in scent and product we are going to establish our most popular fragrances that will adapt well to many products and bring them to more of our most popular items. So far we have identified 9 scents that will be available in either Beard Care or Body Mist; Shower Wash; Bar Soap; and solid colognes.

Our all new bar soaps are expected to launch in a couple weeks and we will highlight the coordinating products at that time.

We will also bring back our popular holiday scents. We skipped it this last holiday season and disappointed many fans. This year we will have the Beard Oil scent and the Body Mist scent with coordinating Shower Wash and Bar Soap. We will also build these into our gift sets as well!

Keep a watch for when we announce our new bar soaps to see what we are talking about!

 

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Saying good-bye to some scents and products

We are always dabbling and trying out new ideas. From the start our scents and fragrances have been a key attribute that sets us apart from most of our competitors. At times we have maintained over 12 scents in our beard care line and 11 in our Shower Washes. Scents were always intended to be a revolving collection with a few core constants. We are aware that these scents have their fans and we regret having to do this. For those who will miss them, retired fragrances may return as part of a custom ordering option in the near future.

Today we are announcing what scents we will be placing into the vaults.

Going from our beard care line

  • Havana – tobacco leaf
  • Kununurra – teak & sandalwood

Going from J&L Apothecary

  • Almond Spice
  • Sea Storm/Rapa Nui
  • Green Tea (Shower Wash only, changing to Matcha Mint)
  • Nectarine Ginger (changing to Shanghai)

We have new scents that were introduced this year that have really taken off. They have done so well you will see them expand across our products over the next few months.

  • Shanghai (green tea & nectarine) will be made as a limited edition scent in beard care come later this summer.
  • Tarocco (bitter citrus) will expand into select J&L Apothecary products

There are also select products coming to an end, at least for the foreseeable future.

  • Moisturizing Body Oil – replaced by Soothing Body Mist
  • Bar Soaps – all existing varieties except for our Activated Charcoal & Lemongrass. We have new bar soaps in the works!

As these items wind down you will see prices drop until they are gone. Stock up before they are gone!

 

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Primp & Jol is coming!

What is this all about you may ask.

Primp & Jol will be the name we will apply to our retail Pop-Up experiences as we go forward. The purpose is to prepare for a full retail experience that we aim to bring in the near future. Those of you that have been following us have seen us present a different take on the “festival” vending circuit by offering a shopping experience that allows you to browse and explore versus approaching a table to be sold to. We strive for our interactions with you to be welcoming and pleasant and not a seller versus buyer encounter.

We plan to move into a direction where we will offer more than the products we make to further satisfy your needs and offer more than just “products”, but an comforting experience that appeals to more than your personal care needs.

Branching out from accessories for the products we make, we wish to offer tastes of items to help you enjoy the little things in life; family, friends and even alone time. While J&L Apothecary and J&L Pogonotrophics will be the center of our merchandising strategy, we will complement them with little zones that speak to helping you create those happy occasions. This is where the name comes into play: Primp & Jol! Primp – spending time to make little adjustments to one’s appearance; Jol – a word with old Norse roots that means happy occasions (it also has J and L in it).

This will be a testing concept at first, as we learn from you what experiences and items you are most interested in to help us curate our offerings. As we have with all that we have done, we are going to continue to learn from you. It is never in our mission to dictate a lifestyle to you, but with Primp & Jol we are offering mini lifestyle enhancing items for you to pick and choose from as you see fit. It is important to us that it all works together and makes sense for you and for us.

You will start seeing more about Primp & Jol as we transition our retail experience and create our branding. This is not a new company name for our products, it is simply the brick & mortar extension of our brands that will sell our products. Both of our brands will be exclusive to Primp & Jol in the communities we will operate within.

It will mean so much to use to hear from you through comments, social media and in person what you think. Ask questions, offer suggestions and help us build an experience that many will enjoy.

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Introducing: Clay Mask Creator System

We first launched our first clay masks summer of 2017. They were an instant hit with customers, often selling out at every pop-up. When the season came to an end we started to analyze what we learned from our customers as we were introducing and selling our clay masks. A few months were spent looking at what others offer in the way of clay masks.

First we learned that they are pricey for all that they really are. A single use prepared mask was running anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 at most retailers with upscale brands that offer little more being at the higher end. For products that were intended to offer multiple uses the prices started out at $20.00 for a 2 ounce jar or tube. Reading the ingredients in many of these masks also concerned us; use of lesser quality oils, harmful preservatives and very little of the good stuff.

Customers informed us that different masks were needed for varying needs throughout the year. Seasons and activities would require purchasing multiple masks to be bought and stored, creating a much higher expense. For us, to make masks that suited the ever changing tastes and needs of customers would mean making dozens of clay masks, leading to an inventory nightmare and the potential for customers to have products that would lose their effectiveness as they sat waiting to be used when necessity struck.

We love the idea of customization; making things personal for each person and for each situation. We have offered this concept in much of our beard care line already. It is the reason why we offer so many scent variations in most of our products as well. We had to ask ourselves how we could bring this concept to clay masks and keep it inline with our values.

It all starts with great clay mixtures that target base skin needs – dry, moderate (normal), oily, sensitive and combination skin types. Then we thought about all the great liquid add-ins that one could use to build their mask. Some great ingredients are likely already in your pantry, others ideal ingredients may be expensive to keep in sensible quantities in your home. We broke down each possible ingredient that would be part of a perfect clay mask and focused on those items that are less likely in the household –  organic natural oils, glycerin, essential oils. From there we started building our system in stages.

First stage is to select a clay mix powder engineered for your specific needs. These mixtures all contain aloe vera and a couple clay powders. Each jar of clay is roughly 2 ounces in volume – due to the differing densities of clay they weights vary. You can easily get up to 12 masks out of each jar when prepared.

Second stage is to select liquid add-ins. Pulling from your pantry try coconut oil, organic cider vinegar or honey; or goats milk from the fridge. You can use any of our scented Body Oils, Junk Oil or even beard oils that you are already using. Or, you can buy one of our liquid add-ins like Argan + Jojoba Oil, or Glycerin + Aloe. Best to use a combination of liquids to craft your mask. We plan to keep adding items to the list based upon feedback. Basic rule is to mix equal parts of clay & liquid. Less liquid for a thicker mask, more for a creamy one. No set rule of how much, it all depends on where you wish to use it – 1.5 tablespoons would do your entire face for sure.

Third stage, to really make it yours, add some aromatherapy essential oil dilutions. A few drops of any one to help stimulate your mood or get more out of your mask. You can mix it up here too. Choose scents to help you relax, meditate or rejuvenate.

The best part is you can mix and match any of these add-ins. Use 2 or more liquids along with a couple aromatherapy oils to make the ultimate mask for you. You can even mix any of our clay powders for your base to really change it up.

R: Moroccan + Bentonite clay mask prepared

Like any mask, apply to washed skin and let dry. This often takes 15 minutes on average. Oils alone won’t “dry” but they will form a firm layer and thicken as it sets. With more water based add-ins you will see the clay change color, often becoming lighter as it dries. Some report that a mask tingles when dry or feels tighter on their skin. Once dried satisfactorily, rinse off the mask with a circular rubbing motion. This adds to the exfoliating power as you remove it. Upon the mask being completely rinsed away your skin should feel silky smooth. After drying your face, you may apply a small amount of our body oil or misting spray to add moisture – but you really don’t need to. Avoid applying heavy creams or lotions immediately afterwards as this essentially defeats the purpose of a mask by adding back in the toxins. Let your skin breathe!

 

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Summer is nearly upon us

The very hectic we were having here has come to a close. It all started with preparing for and taking part in the Andersonville Farmer’s Market as a spotlight vendor. This far exceeded our expectations. We made lots of new friends and built up hype for a future step for us.

The rest of the week up to today was spent with family and friends to acknowledge the start of the season and reflection on what Memorial Day means to us. To close it out, we huddled with our dearest of friends for a quiet evening.

We hope you all respectfully acknowledge the day as well as had a wonderful time with your family and friends.

Our store is up and running well. Hard to believe it has only been a few weeks. Some additions and improvements will continue to trickle in as we go forward. Plan is to have all modules in place by the end of August so we can be well prepared for the holidays. You’ll certainly enjoy these new features as we bring them on board.

Thank you,

John

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The down side of being an innovator: The Original Beard Butter Story

We put a lot of work behind creating not only our “business” but the products we offer. Our inspiration and motivation to even begin this all was to offer something different and that was not already on the market; to meet unmet needs.

Our first big innovation was to create a powerful conditioning agent that also helped bring a little control and styling to a beard. I talked with many men that maintained larger, fuller beards to see what existing products they used. Surprisingly many of them called out various hair creams purchased from the Black hair-care aisle. These products are very intensive conditioners that are applied to the hair and left in to keep conditioning throughout the day. A few brands called this style of product “Hair Mayonnaise”. Knowing that mayonnaise was suggested as a wash out hair conditioner in the 1970s, it made sense to me. It also looked like thick mayo in a jar.

I read the ingredients and made note of key components that benefit the hair and compared to ingredients I was already using. I focused on the more natural products and ingredients as that is our focus as a business. In my lab, I started mixing a little of this and a little of that and after a few tries I had a product ready to test. I gave samples to friends, talking them through the purpose of the product, the desired results and best ways to apply. While testing was taking place I had to think up a name to call this all new concoction.

Google was my friend here. I spent days searching word combinations from a short list of ideas. I knew I wanted to stay away from mayonnaise, but I did know I wanted a culinary reference to the look and feel of the product. Well, it looked like margarine; a little pale or translucent but still margarine. Margarine, though made from natural ingredients (normally) it is basically artificial butter. There it was… I decided to test out “butter” as a beard care product. Using all sorts of combinations to search the internet. Looking for any existing correlation of “beard” and “butter” and found none, anywhere. Not a single entry anywhere that contained the words Beard and Butter and any capacity. I browsed Amazon and various beard care product makers big and small. Nobody had a product similarly named or referencing Beard Butter. That was it! Our new leave in conditioning product was to be called the before unheard of “Beard Butter”.

It did extremely well in testing, everybody loved it. They loved the means to apply, the way it worked, how long it lasted and the added control to taming their beard. Then I started hearing other ways guys were using it and realized we had an amazing product here.

Upon launch it was a huge success and was constantly selling out. Orders came in from our resellers, with them telling us how much their customers loved it. The barbers who used our products put into their mix of what they used on their customers.

About a year after launch, we learned that a couple other beard care product makers had introduced their own version. It snowballed from there. More and more places were popping up with their own take on it. Some even using the exact same ingredients. Being a tiny business we did not have the means to hire an attorney to go after all of them. Every couple months we learn of new Beard Butters coming onto the market.

To add insult to all of this, they are now telling the public why it was invented and how it is intended to be used. We were never consulted on this. We don’t even earn a mention. Most of the information is inaccurate as it has warped with the intentions of those that copied our product.

Today there is little we can do. We strive to make it known that we were the inventors of this wondrous product and we have officially renamed our product The Original Beard Butter. We will continue to tell this story, to make it known that we put our sweat into creating this product from the ground up inspired by another product, but not the same; and brought to the masses as something new and unique. Nobody can ever take that away from us. Those other folks are merely thieves.

 

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Sans Fragrance

For our shampoos and conditioners we have been using a simple citrus herb fragrance. Something light and with a more universal appeal. Our hair care line had been one fragrance across all items that are scented.

While actually making these products I have always liked the natural scent more. Whether it is the shampoo or conditioner they have been fresh, crisp and clean smelling before I add fragrance.

The smell of a product can be very pleasing to one and very off-putting to another. I get asked to make these items in varying scents but my focus has always been to make varying formulas and keep to a subtle fragrance to stimulate senses. With the natural scent being more pleasing, and natural, I started to question why I was covering up such a nice scent anyway.

As I start production up again for these items I have decided to remove any added fragrance from future batches. Including our new Coconut Oil + Cocoa Butter shampoo & conditioner that is coming real soon. This permits these items to be less intrusive with scent, especially if you are combing various products as part of your self-care regimen. The sweet and sometimes nutty aromas of the oils now comes through. An aroma that will not linger nor interfere with other scented products you may using.

This also removes one more ingredient that can pose an allergy risk for those that may be concerned. We feel you will appreciate this decision and continue to enjoy the quality of the products.

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And we’re live…

Welcome!

It has been about 2 months or so in the making to get to this point. A lot of nights where I was felt brain dead after working on this all day. I am happy with what we have and excited as can be about what we will be bringing later. This new set-up will allow us to quickly adapt and change to the trends of the marketplace. We like to try to be ahead of trends, but sometimes that scares people. Folks don’t always react favorable to “different”.

Take a stroll, check it all out and please do let us know what you think.

Sincerely,

John

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Getting Closer

We are days away from launching this new version of J&L Pogonotrophic’s store and website. It has been a huge labor for us, well for me.  Upon launch it will not be 100% of our complete vision but it will be very close. I am happy with what we have to offer at the start and really excited about the potential this has to offer. By using a module based platform we can add new components in phases over time as we feel we are ready for them.

In the works are some new photos for use on our home page and elsewhere that will reflect the diversity of our offerings as well as our customer. On the store side of things we will finally be able to support a subscription service for our most often replenished items. Then there will be the addition of Gift Cards and Account Credit. This will allow gift giving season to be easier when you’re not sure what scent the recipient will enjoy most. It will also make it easier for us to apply credit to a customer’s account to handle customer service issues if they arise. But first, we will bring back our customizable combos and add a few new sets as well.

The process of building this new experience is fun and we will enjoy adding more features and improving it as we go. Feedback from the user will be very beneficial to help us improve our presence and make it better for everyone. We still have limitations due to using a prepackaged product that prevents full layout control. Being that we are a tiny business, this allows us to save time and money while still putting forth a very positive image.