Clearly Natural, Part 2

Early this month we posted an article about our approach to natural products by letting the their natural state stand out. As we move throw introducing the new clear packaging we are surprising ourselves with how the items appear. It’s not a bad thing, just different and at times comical.

STIR, NOT SHAKEN

Our new SHOWER GEL is presenting the most interesting reactions. When working scent and essential oils into soap and other base components there is a scenario called the “vanilla effect”. Named for the common culprit, many oils can cause a product to become yellowed or even brownish in hue and often cloudy. To incorporate all our added ingredients to the organic base liquid takes a gentle touch to properly blend all components well. It is soap after all and the lightest agitation will cause bubbles. You cannot whip or shake the mixture or else you end up with voluminous suds that will take weeks to condense and settle before you can even package it.

ROUGH DRAUGHT

These two characteristics has led to some interesting results. No matter how gentle we are, when filling the pouches, a head still forms on the soap. Normally this will take a couple weeks to go down and has absolutely zero effect on the performance of the product if it returns through movement. Combined with the vanilla affect of some of the oils, it causes the SHOWER GEL and PET SHAMPOO to look like freshly poured beers when we fill each pouch. The color differences between scent options provides the appearance of a light IPA to a farmhouse red ale.

SHOWER GEL and PET SHAMPOO showing off their true colors

Now there is no cause to be alarmed, and it should not need to be mentioned that this are not to be consumed internally. The bottom line is that we strive to keep our formulations and ingredients as simple as possible and plant based. We use very little emulsifier in our soaps as they can have a negative impact to the lather. The desired viscosity of our liquid soaps adds to the “head” forming and taking longer to flatten. And as it being soap, it will easily reform when agitated. That means, when it ships to your door it has likely been jostled and shaken quite a bit. No need to let it settle before using it, you will still get the same luxurious lather with every use. In fact, these liquid soaps have the most amazing lather you will likely find in any body wash!

Clearly, we make a great product. It may not be the prettiest (unless you love the visual aesthetics of beer), but the experience it provides is pure beauty.

Head Office Communique – September 24, 2020

This should be a brief one:

B2G1 Offer is extended until Halloween. Yup, the buy 2 beard care products get a Beard Oil free is good until October 31, 2020.

New Products Coming

Early work has begun on new products. First up, natural stick deodorant. This has been on the back burner for the last couple years as we have been waiting for the right time. With our current refocus to bath & body basics for J+L Apothecary, the time is right to start development on this often requested product. We will have one or two options based on a base that will be great for even the most sensitive skin. The focus is not to offer up our “scents” as the function of the deodorant. We will take the same approach we did with J&L Pogonotrophics’ Junk Oil, and focus on maintaining freshness over layering in more scents.

Also in the works is something outside our refocus, but is often requested and suits our Primp + Jol concept. That is scented candles. Not a bath & body basic, but something that can add your favorite fragrances from our long list of scents to any room in your house. We have said in the past that we are not a “candle maker”, and that will hold true. Yes, we may make candles, but they will be considered an accessory type item. If they become our biggest seller, maybe then we will rethink this position.

We are also bringing our Clay Mask System to an end. The current inventory is being pulled to be reworked into something new. Our current inventory of Solid Cologne is also being removed as we rework this line. We will use our remaining inventory as scent samples for those remaining fragrances that we will give out free with some orders. We hope to reintroduce Solid Cologne before the holidays in a new shape, new size and some new scents. We are elevating this product to fully represent the stature of what cologne is for many folks. The listings for these items are being removed very soon.

Corrupted Product Data Issue

Recently we had an issue with corrupted product listings for a couple very specific items. We are not sure as to what caused the problem, but we were able to correct it as quickly as possible. Although we do not know the specific cause, it is likely linked to module updates to our eCommerce system. There were many updates the day prior to discovery of the corruption, and each of those modules connect to and rely upon our product catalog data. During these updates, our data backup was refreshed. This means that the data corruption occurred before the backup or was caused by the backup itself. Do rest assured, this had absolutely no impact on any customer data or personal identity information.

Gift Wrapping will Return November 1!

Head Office Communique – September 12, 2020

We are gearing up for colder weather and the Holiday Season, despite it only being the start of September. There are a few things to expect and a couple things to not expect from us this season.

WINTER & HOLIDAY PLANS

Our gift wrapping will return, and we hope to start that off in early November. Also expect some great sales with a weekly focus as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Much of what we do will depend on the current climate at the time we start making announcements. The state of affairs right now are a bit volatile and we must be mindful of the impact to everyone.

We have not decided upon a “Holiday” scent for this year. For Fall we suggest our HAVANA scent, which is coming to our new SHOWER GEL. Its notes of vanilla and brown sugar along with the earthy tones is a perfect Autumnal fragrance. Our plan in 2021 is to start having “Seasonal Scents” that will reflect the nature of a season and permits us to offer more options spread throughout the year. Producing them for only their peak season and then letting them sell out before the next season.

CONCEPT: ORDER PICK-UP by APPOINTMENT (LOCALS ONLY)

In the past we had an arrangement with a small boutique in our neighborhood that carried our products and was willing to accommodate the added traffic of our local online customers picking up their orders within their store. As time moved on, they became more focused on other categories of their business and were unable to accommodate our products, and our customers.

This was a setback for us as we had a lot of local customers that loved the ease and the savings of picking up orders over having them shipped. We have been working diligently to attempt to return this service option. We prefer to have a reliable store that maintains regular business hours that would allow more flexibility, but by picking up at our home office may have to suffice until then. As this is our actual “home” we must be mindful of the impact to our privacy as well as our neighbors. If we offer pick-ups there has to be a strict policy of when and how, with timed appointments that would be limited to certain days of the week and hours of the day. Any Pick-Ups will be literally a “CURBSIDE PICK UP” – you park on the corner, we run it out to you. We know this is not typical, but it is the best we can attempt for now.

Here is how a pick-up order process could function:

  • Your place and pay for your order online, customer receives confirmation receipt – this only indicates the order was paid for and sent to us to fulfill, not that it is ready for pick up.
  • We pick and prepare the order the next business day (Monday through Friday). Note, custom items may require an additional day to prepare.
  • Once an order is fully ready, we will contact you to confirm a pick up date and time. We will present options of 30 minute windows for you to select one.
  • There will no Pick-Ups after 12:00pm on Saturday, none on Sunday. The options will be limited to afternoons and early evenings and dependent upon what we have available.
  • When you confirm the appointment, we will ask you to provide a description of your vehicle (make, model, color). We will reply with detail instructions of where to park, how to inform us you have arrived.
  • Once you arrive, a quick text sent to us will prompt us to run your product down to you.

We are still fine tuning this plan, but so far this is how we have handled the case-by-case situations in the past. We are looking for an appointment scheduling add-in for our online store to make this simple.

Another option may be delivery for those who are VERY close to us. IF (just a thought at this point) we offer such, it will be a routed delivery system and done only once or twice per week in a limited area. Again, IF we were to do this.

PRICING SYSTEM

A new pricing system is trickling into our store. You may have noticed the $x.x9 prices. Although many feel this is a means to make a higher price seem lower, we don’t think that way. It essentially boils down to us making it easier to match us up to others as well as a means for us to identify “regular”, “sale” and “clearance” pricing. This is a common practice of retailers. As we have grown, we have seen the need arise for such details.

Initially we shied away from such a format as we were selling in person through festivals. A simple “no cents” price point allowed us to make our prices clearer when sitting on a shelf with a sign. If we return to doing such, we will just round our pricing for such situations. Until then, we can play along with everyone else. For the majority of our products, the prices dropped by a penny.

We continually will audit our prices to ensure that products remain a true value while still be competitive and profitable. As are replenishing inventory of raw goods, we are seeing steep increases in shipping costs as well as pricing of ingredients that are in high demand. This will translate to price increases for affected items. It is a situation we wish we did not have to be in.

CLEARANCE PRODUCTS

Along with this is the introduction of a CLEARANCE category for our online store. Prices will generally end in $x.69 or $x.29, making it clear they are clearance. Clearance will be a means for us to promote and highlight items we wish to move through to make room for new products. Sometimes it may simply be to lower inventory of certain selections as we may have over produced to demand. With the transitioning of our brands began this summer, it also means that older packaging and labels will be sold through to create a better presence for new packaging and labels. The products are still of quality and will perform as expected. All clearance sales are final, there will be no returns or refunds supported.

If there is ever an “OOPS” product, we will be sure to call that out so you are aware that it is not a “typical example” of the actual product we were making. The reality is, working with natural products there are times that the chemistry doesn’t work as expected. In the past, such products were given away to friends and family but we see the viability of making them available for sale to all.

Clearance items will not be discounted any further through sales or coupons unless it is specifically called out. This being new to our store, we will see how we can make it most effective and a value.


Inside the office we have been having a talk about how our competitors in the beard care market advertise and the micro messages that are inherent in the majority of Beard Oil online advertisements. We will share some of our takeaways from this conversation in an upcoming Blog post.

New Buy 2 Get One FREE Offers

We are testing the waters of using special offers to attract new customers to our brands. Getting something FREE is often the best way to get some attention. This summer, as we get ready for Autumn, we are going to put a little focus on two product lines that we feel demonstrate who we are best. For both lines, it requires selecting your choice of core products to then be presented with the option of an additional free item that you can choose, selecting your preferred option.

There is no need for a coupon code to enter, or special login and is open to all regular customers; although our preference is for this to draw in new customers. Sorry P+J Club Members, this is not available to you.

What are the offers?

BUY ANY TWO BEARD CONDITIONING PRODUCTS GET A FREE BEARD OIL OF CHOICE. Easy enough, right? Mix and Match from our 3 Beard Oil formulas and The Original Beard Butter.

OR

BUY ANY TWO CLAY MASK POWDERS AND CHOOSE A FREE MIX-INS BUNDLE. Quite sweet, huh? Any two of our clay powder mixes will lead to getting a bundle of 3 full size mask add ins to get you started making customized facial masks.

In the future we hope to be able to create new offers to make it easier to try new products or stock up on your favorites.

How does it work?

Shop as normal, adding any 2 qualifying products to your cart. Once they are in your cart you will see a banner pop up presenting you with the link to select your FREE item. If you missed it, you will also see the banner at the top of your checkout page. If you remove a qualifying item from your cart, the free item will also be removed or change to full price.

There are no limits to what scent or formula you can buy, as long as if it is still in stock. Your free item is limited to what is presented as the FREE OFFER – for beard care, it is ONE bottle of beard oil selected from any of our 3 formulas and up to 17 fragrances; the bundle for the Clay Mask offer is limited to a few of our Aromatherapy scents, which is one of the 3 bundle items.

Limits: Each customer can receive ONE of each offer. Why? This offer is to help introduce our brands to more people. We wish to have enough product to meet anticipated demand and we wish to prevent this offer from being abused. What to let your friends in on this, just share the link to our site. This offer will expire and is limited to in-stock items only. There are no rainchecks or alternate offers if we are sold out. We may cancel this promotion earlier than planned if we see that we may not be able to keep up with demand.

Clearly Natural

Natural isn’t always colorful and “pretty”. But, it is still beautiful.

By introducing many of our natural products in clear packaging we are showing off our products contents as a priority. With many of our items not having added colors and relying upon natural oils and other ingredients it presents them in their off white or yellow hues. They are rarely clear, often opaque or cloudy in appearance. To some that may seem wrong, that we should hide these less “attractive” traits by using colorants or hide them in their packaging. We don’t agree.

There is beauty in these less colorful products. That is the beauty of their natural state, untouched by bleaching agents and artificial colors. We see that lack of unnecessary ingredients to make them appear more vibrant; offer no tangible positives in performance. Tiny imperfections caused by using very simple production methods proof of our brand’s commitment to natural. While our contemporaries use flair to distract your eyes, we let our products be seen for exactly what they are made of.

We do use color here and there to help differentiate formulas and scents. And where it makes sense, such colorants will remain in use. As we migrate to our new Stand-Up Pouches for all our liquid soaps and conditioners, along with the clear bottles and jars we have been using, we wish to let the simplicity of their formulations shine through. While you may see dingy and dull colors, yellows and grey hues; you are seeing proof that we make natural products free of all that is not necessary to bring you a quality product that performs as needed.

There are others who make products that remain clear, or pure white; even may have a pastel color. In most of these instances extra steps are taken to remove the color from the natural ingredient, or they use fruit based colorants and compounds like titanium dioxide to make their product more “pure” in appearance. Our view is that the product in itself can show off how natural it is without the need to appeal to a sense of perceived purity through added colorants.

Don’t expect us to be embarrassed by any of this, as it is a reason for us to be proud. And we feel that the folks who buy our products will relish our decision to not hide the natural beauty of our products. This is just one more way we buck trends and carve our own path.

We Support the United States Postal Service

Anyone who has ordered from us is aware that we ship 100% of your orders through the USPS. We know this is not what everybody else does. Add that to the long list of things we do that “not everybody else does”. There is clear reason why we chose USPS as our official carrier for all customer orders.

USPS is far more efficient, faster and cheaper that any other carrier/shipping option out there. USPS is far more likely get your order to you safe and secure. While other carriers are tossing your orders over a fence, leaving them at your door to be stolen ; the USPS can delivery into your mailbox or will take the extra effort to place your package safely inside your door or ask that you pick it up from your local Post Office for no extra charge.

Just like the other major carriers, US Mail can be tracked and shipped. You can even receive a notice when it is delivered. And like other carriers, they make mistakes and packages get damaged or placed on the wrong truck. From my years of experience in Shipping and Fulfillment, it happens a heck of a lot less frequently.

Some have claimed that the USPS needs to be modernized and operate like Amazon, FedEx or UPS. I have to tell you they are just as modernized. And, they are far more efficient about it. USPS operates set routes with assigned carriers to those routes. Handling a substantially greater number of items and getting them to your door 6 days a week. While Amazon, FedEx and UPS struggle moving boxes, USPS is able to quickly move tiny pieces of mail in substantially larger quantities to homes and businesses in every corner of the country. USPS services are protected by law, which carries a lot more weight when nefarious actors get involved. Amazon barely even schedules deliveries and hands off packages to a delivery person as they come off the line. You can see numerous delivery vans crossing paths and delivery to the same street at the same time. That is chaos and costly, not cost effective efficiencies.

UPS and Amazon rely upon the efficiencies of the USPS to complete their services. UPS works with shippers to complete the delivery to residential addresses of many small items as it is not easy for them to perform such tasks. UPS and FedEx were created for large scale package and small freight shipping, mainly between businesses. They find residential services inconvenient and charge more for those services. When presented with the option of taking over the USPS they both said they could never do what they do as well.

Cost and Time – and time leads to costs. A small 2 pound package can be sent across the country – coast to coast – for less then $20 within 2 days with USPS. That is extremely less costly than what either UPS or FedEx can offer for the same level of service. That gets the package to your home, with tracking and insurance! Factor in how many of these packages USPS delivers to homes, by a carrier on foot, in a single day.

FedEx and UPS only offer business discounts to those businesses that are capable of shipping high volumes of packages through them. Most small businesses like ours will not qualify. Those discount rates are often still higher than USPS anyway.

There are claims the USPS is not profitable. To be blunt and on point, that is utter bullshit. There has been a desire of politicians to “sell” the USPS to a private owner for years. The private owner would pocket the revenue while cutting services and raising costs. This is not a scare tactic, conspiracy theory or a lie. This drive to privatize has taken place in other countries under the same political reasoning and pressure with horrific results. Mail services in Australia have become a joke. Carriers are paid to not deliver mail, but a note for the recipient to come to the office during normal hours, to retrieve their mail. So, if you are at work during those normal hours who is going to go get your mail. Oh, and post offices were closed and consolidated to where you may have to drive across town or across the desert to get your mail – daily.

The fact is, every time a government service is privatized it has become far more corrupt and far more expensive to operate as the quality of service declines. If our Federal Government would stop trying to create the problem and make the USPS look bad so the public will be more willing to go along with their plan, we could actually be adding more services and people to make the USPS an even more important institution to our people.

There have been proposals to have your local Post Office operate as a basic community bank for those who don’t have banking services can cash their paycheck and pay bills. This would hurt the PayDay loan and Currency Exchange business that profit greatly off of the lower income citizens who rely upon those institutions as they cannot receive services from standard banks. And those PayDay loan and Currency Exchange businesses are owned in part or in whole by known large banks. Then there is the work of the Congress to financially crush the USPS by forcing them to 100% prefund pensions for their employees and employees they don’t even have yet. No other government agency is required to do this, not the FBI, not the Defense Department. This was a means to steal the profits of the USPS and cripple it’s ability to appear profitable.

Recently there has been a lot of news stories about how USPS is having troubles sorting and delivering mail. These are manufactured situations where under new leadership, the Post Master General has removed equipment, cut staffing and cut work hours to create instability and inefficiencies; all the while claiming he is working to make them more efficient. The Post Master General has no credible related business experience and only received the position as large political donor who will help with the process to privatize. The news from all major outlets has downplayed the cause and sensationalized the effect. In a world where pictures speak louder, they love showing you the piles of undelivered mail while subtly noting some changes while loudly stressing how work is not getting done. The message has been clear as we are hearing calls to “let Amazon take over the mail” from average citizens. I, for one, don’t want my mail left on the street because the delivery person didn’t feel like accessing the mailbox or was over their allotted hours.

You think that would not happen? As a private business expected to achieve a level of profits and secure top level executives you can expect to see all the same issues you will see with any other for profit business. Low pay employees that are pressured to perform at a fast pace over efficiencies. Managers incentivized to apply that pressure will ensure that workers perform their duties quickly and cheaply. Failure to comply will lead to high turnover rates and a revolving door of under trained employees. Those who do stick with it, will be demoralized and burned out. As people complain about their mail service, we will get a PR spokesbot telling us they are working hard to improve matters and that all employees are well trained and paid for the work they do – completely ignoring the issues. We will be forced to accept that answer as we have no options for similar services. Mail rates will increase in line with the increase in executive pay. Competing services will become more expensive and free services will start having a fee. If you think this is crazy, look to Australia for how “awesome” their private mail service operates; and why the UK wants to return their privatized mail back to public domain only after a couple years.

By investing in the USPS and correcting the actions taken by Congress to harm the USPS, we can improve our communities, offer jobs and return the USPS to profitability. United States Postal Service is not only a necessity for nearly all Americans, it is the best choice for small businesses like J&L to serve their customers with a quality service and a lower price. No matter what you think of the USPS, the facts show they are the best at what they do. Those who feel they are not, think hard about all the things they do and how much of it, and think how well a profit driven entity will do it. Logistically, there is no comparison to all that the United States Postal Service does. Are you will to take the risk of losing it all or would you rather see that real work is done to correct the destructive work of our political system reversed and improve their operations.

We urge everyone to contact their Congressional representatives and tell them to reverse the 2005 Act that started the problems and to work hard to ensure the USPS remains strong and functional.

Head Office Communique – August 11, 2020

not top secret
Not Top Secret Communique

Greetings all. There is a lot going on behind the scenes here as we transition into a new way of doing business stimulated by our current environment. Losing out on festivals shook a lot of things up for us. On one hand, we didn’t have the supplies to even begin to make a festival worthwhile; on the other hand it gave us time to focus on our business and see what needed to change to make us better. Having time to think and plan ahead is rare for us… or me actually. Some of what is happening has been dripping out to Facebook and on the Blog. As I started to tap out a simple message on a couple new things, the brain started telling me it makes sense to turn this into a general news and information post. Then that thought rolled into what would I call a regular sharing of such news and information.

We don’t have much that sounds catchy and makes sense to work with based upon what we do and all. I decided to go pseudo-official sounding with a name for this. Don’t hold me to it, but I would like to make these “Communique” posts monthly or more frequently. Lots to share, so lets get to it:

Late Summer Sales & Offers

In a drive to bring more awareness to our top quality Beard Care line, we will be offering our first ever Buy 2 get 1 Free sale. This is exciting for us as it makes it easier for new customers to try our highly rated beard care products. Although we are still operating under the specter of COVID-19, Self-Care through Personal Care is still important. Those that grow and maintain a beard still want to look good and feel good. Once you add 2 qualifying products to your cart (any mix of 30ml Beard Oil and Butter), you will be prompted to select your FREE item. Clicking that link will take you to a page where you can select a 30ml Beard Oil of any formula or scent.

We are not leaving our J+L Apothecary. There will be a similar deal on our Clay Mask Mixes. The offer will be Buy 2 Clay Mixes and get a Mix-ins Bundle Free. This bundle will include: 60ml Argan +Jojoba Oil blend, 60ml Glycerin + Aloe Blend and a 15ml Aromatherapy Oil – individually a $24 value. Similar to the Beard Care offer, once you add your Clay Mask Powders to the cart, you will be prompted to select the 15ml Aromatherapy option for your Free Bundle.

Both of these sales will kick off at the end of August and will last through September. Keep a watch on Facebook for the announcement.

Product Changes and Updates

Our Soap Bar Clearance will continue until all current inventory is gone. We will start to introduce our Shea +Oatmeal Soap Bars in more fragrances as these clearance bars sell through. With this launch, we are minimizing colorants which we have used in the past. The concept being, we wish to focus on the functionality and less about making it colorful or “pretty”. Color will still be used so we all can easily distinguish the scents, but not an important aesthetic.

By the end of August, you will be able to start ordering our new Shower Gel in a 360ml stand-up pouch. This is the same exact formula as our Shower Wash but named differently to call out the packaging difference as we bring the Shower Wash bottle to an end. We will not clearance the Shower Wash as there is little room for discounts as well as it having a longer shelf life. We may offer a special promo deal later to help move through the inventory. The new SHOWER GEL will launch with scents that are out of stock and new scents we wish to offer. Those with SHOWER WASH subscriptions will receive SHOWER GEL in the same scent they have selected for their subscription. Once bottles become more available from suppliers, we will offer empty bottle & pump combos where you can use the SHOWER GEL as a refill if you wish.

All SHAMPOOS and CONDITIONERS will start to be packaged in the new pouches as well. This will remain named the same and our listings will be updated to reflect the size and package changes. These too can function as a refill if you wish.

Changes to Primp+Jol Club

We launched our loyalty/reward membership club a year ago. Since then, we have learned more about what you are looking for in such a program. Those that joined have expressed their appreciation of the club, but others are a little scared off by the pricing. Although the cost offsets a portion of the expenses on our end, it can seem as if we are making them pay for their free stuff upfront – making it not free at all.

Our current members will see that their discounts will apply to more items, as we are adding sale items to the list of what the 10% discount applies to. For new members we will offer 3 ways to take part, each with their own structure. The current version of Primp+Jol Club will become Primp+Jol Club Full. The annual fee will drop to 21.99, or you can now opt for the Full Quarterly membership that will be billed at $5.69 every 90 days. Both of these will include a 10% discount on all products we make, including subscriptions and sale items, 5% off the items we do not make; and will receive Free Shipping on every order.

We are also adding Primp+Jol Club Basic. This introductory tier will be FREE to anyone who joins. To join, you do need to “buy” it for $0.00. This membership tier will offer 5% discount on all items we make, 2.5% off those items we do not make. Members will still pay for shipping.

The “Welcome Gift” is being replaced with members receiving FREE SAMPLES with every order they place. Each month we will pick a new “surprise” sample that we will pack with every P+J Club order when we ship it. The Free Samples will not ship on their own nor can be ordered, it will be an automatic thing we do on our end every time you do order from us. Why this change? Honestly, the Welcome Gifts were expensive to ship. Combined with the cost of the product it was no longer a smart benefit to offer in the manner we chose. By dropping an extra item with each order allows us to be more flexible with what we present to each of you and we can make it more seasonal when it makes sense. All tiers will qualify for the FREE SAMPLES and we hope they inspire to try other products we offer. These Free Samples are a Members Only offering!

Shipping Rates

As a very small business, we do not get the huge discounts major carriers like UPS and FedEx offer to shippers. That is one of the reasons why we use USPS, along with the fact your order is far more likely to make its way into your mailbox and not under a bush or thrown over a fence. Unfortunately all possible carriers we can use are getting ever more expensive and the associated costs are increasing. And, none are perfect every time but USPS is far more reliable.

Our current shipping rates are: $4 for the smallest and lightest of orders, $6 for the majority, $8 for the heavier items. Each of these are below what we pay. In fact, the lowest we pay is $7.40 for anything under 32 ounces going to most addresses. We attempt to make up the difference by applying a percentage of our shipping costs into each product we sell.

At this moment we are stuck in a situation where we either need to raise prices of our products or raise shipping fees. If we raise the fees, there is a risk of increasing abandoned carts caused by the sticker shock of the added shipping charge. For some items, if we build in a higher percentage of its shipping costs we risk losing sales as the perception of the price to value is not justified. It is a tricky situation that involves a lot of nuances to ensure that the total order costs falls in line with the perception of the total value of what is purchased.

With the loss of in-person sales this summer due to COVID-19, we lost the padding such revenue gave us despite the costs of providing the in-person capabilities. That means the percentage of our revenue going to shipping fees in relation to total sales has greatly increased. As we shift to being more online than in person, we need to adjust our pricing and fees accordingly.

For the foreseeable future we will need to make FREE SHIPPING more of a premium service. The threshold will be move to $69.00. Then numerous items will see a price adjustment based upon its share of the shipping expenses in relation to its weight and overall unit sales.

The current marketplace is seeing substantial price increases for everything we buy. We will do our absolute best to keep our pricing fair and competitive. In the 7+ years we have been in business, our prices have been rather steady with only bumps to Beard Oil and Butters caused by the move to better ingredients. In many aspects, our prices have dipped as we have been able to become more efficient. In many ares, especially with J+L Apothecary, we are accused of having prices that are too low. We take that as a compliment despite some thinking that low price equates low quality.

Thank you!

These last few months have been a huge pain at times. We are still struggling with supply chain restrictions and the inability to produce many of our products until these restrictions are relieved. Current state, caps and bottles are non-existent with November being the nearest ETA from our suppliers. This is hurting us a lot.

But, we have you to thank for supporting us through this time. Although we can’t do our Pop-Ups, our online business has seen growth. Our regular customers are buying more and we are gaining a bunch of new ones – and we love you all for it! We are going to do our best to ensure we have our most popular products available, and looking into alternative packaging for our liquid soaps and conditioners that will also be more eco-friendly.

Without your business we may not be able to stay in business. And that is why we have to keep saying THANK YOU to all of you!

Change is Afoot

During our downtime the last few months we have been take a deep look at so much of our business. Despite the reasons why we had this time, it is very appreciative to have such time. Often we get bogged down with managing the day to day and preparing for the coming days that we don’t get a chance for true analysis of everything we do. In some situations, we were placed into a position where we were forced to think of a new way to do things. Whether it is a little as changing a package to having to rethink formulations for popular products.

When you look at any businesses’ back story you will often find that very challenging circumstances lead to great opportunity and future success. We would like to think that we are in a challenging time for our business and we wish to take the opportunity to fine tune ourselves in the hopes it leads to future success. We are taking a moment here to introduce some of our plans for change. Some of these we may have touched on previously, the rest may even seem surprising.

Packaging Changes

Seemingly everyone decided to start making hand sanitizer. Because of this, the most common sizes of bottles we use are simply not available. Even looking into other shapes and colors have come up empty. And, it’s not just bottles but caps as well. The interest to move into a more Eco-friendly packaging model has been on the whiteboard for some time now. Our solution is to package as many liquid products into pouches is in the works. These pouches can serve as the primary storing and dispensing method in your home, or they can serve as a refill to use in any bottle of your choice.

Some products may not suit this method well, and in those instances we are looking into new sizes. We already started migrating our 120ml Beard Shampoo and Beard Conditioner to 180ml bottles. Hand and body lotions will follow suit as we move through existing inventory.

To ensure consistency of our presentation, we are discounting some product options to help move the older packaging out. Once this process is complete, expect new photos of the new packaging.

New Product Formulations

Some may already be aware, to others this may be a new detail about our business and our products that you may not be aware. We have relied upon pre-manufactured bases. Early on, this was a means for us to offer products that are not easily made from scratch. Sourcing premium quality organic bases from a very reputable and internationally know maker of personal care assured us that we would be providing our shoppers a product that would perform extremely well. This also kept production costs down and permitted flexibility. These bases have be used to make all liquid soaps, foaming soaps, lotions and hair conditioners.

Our first foray into a house made version is our Beard Conditioner. With this formula, we were able to craft a very specialized conditioner that meets the needs of beard hair. It also allowed us to add in beneficial nutrients into the product at the optimum point in the making process. This experience has lead us to expanding into making our lotions and hair conditioner in house. We can still ensure premium quality and maintain flexibility, as well as offer a more dynamic formulation. We will be starting this transition with our REVITALIZING LOTION with Kelp. Soon afterwards, expect to see all our lotions made from scratch!

Bar Soaps will also experience a change. When we introduced the three formulations we currently have it was a means to find out what shoppers liked best. Every reaction was noted, along with every suggestion. The plan is to move through existing CRYSTAL and ORGANIC bar soaps and move some of those fragrances to our SHEA + OATMEAL soap. Other scents will migrate to a new glycerin soap recipe that includes better skin nourishing ingredients. We hope to introduce these changes this fall.

An Entirely New Look for J&L Pogonotrophics on the Horizon

From the day one, our Beard Care line of products has incrementally evolved into its current look. Little tweaks here and there have led us to our current label style that we use across the entire line. Realistically they really haven’t changed a great deal. Well, that is about to change. As we work into getting our products on the shelves at retailers, we feel a more refined approach would be beneficial to our namesake line of distinctive beard care products.

The initial impetus: Roughly a year ago we changed our design software for our labels. To put it simply, this new software didn’t like our current label layouts. Although we use standard file formats, they did not all translate well when opened in the new software. This has led to us rebuilding the labels as best as could while retaining the current look. Some may have noticed the colors were not exactly the same, but a bit darker. Taking some feedback and looking at the current landscape of package design, we feel it is the right time to go in an all new direction.

Select branding nuances will be retained. The color scheme for our different formulas will remain, along with our familiar fonts. Gone is the bold presence of our company logo which allows the individual products and their properties to be the focus. We even a borrowed a little from the new Apothecary labels.

These labels are still being evaluated and tested, yet the core of the direction we are headed is evident. Due to packaging needs, there will be the same style variations as you see currently. Smaller packaging will necessitate key elements be of a larger scale. Details we will strive to keep consistent is the “branding block” on the front and the placement of product information; with ingredients on the left, description and suggested application on the right. In our testing we are finding that this design style is much easier to scale to all products which leads to a much more consistent look. Tiny nuanced details will be refined before these are finalized and our rolled out to with new production runs. We feel that giving the product details center stage allows it to speak for itself.

New Product Development Shelved

We have a few items on the shelf, awaiting for the right time to launch. With the current environment it may not be wise to take on the risks associated with introducing all new products. Such items as deodorant, spray cologne, new body oil, body mist reformulation all for J&L Apothecary; and a utility soap bar for J&L Pogonotrophics are still being considered and internally developed. We are also looking into migrating our liquid soaps to an in house formulation. If we see the necessity of enough interest in these or other items, we will re-evaluate our position.

We Believe Change is Good

We never want to become stagnate. The surefire way to prevent stagnation is to be open to change. Change is scary to many, to make it easier for them we will call it progressive development. Some feel change is necessary for the sake of change – that is not us. You will not see us sweep aside so much of who we are and what we stand for just to show that we are now different. At the root, we are about simplicity when it comes to personal care. That root forms two trunks – a beard care brand that is rather masculine by nature; and our bath & body brand that caters to every body. This will not change! Products, formulations, fragrances, packaging and logos will change. Some may change more frequently than others.

You are our inspiration for change. By telling us what you like and what you don’t like gives us the information we need to either improve what we are already doing as well as to try new things. And by “you” we mean everybody. Not just those who shop with us as we listen to what others are saying in social media and other forums about personal care and grooming. Doing exactly that is what led to our two biggest inspirations – ORIGINAL BEARD BUTTER and JUNK OIL.

Be on the look out for all that we have presented here. Along with our J&L APOTHECARY rebranding, this year will be a big dose of change that will invigorate and hopefully inspire.

Subscriptions and Memberships – why we offer them and who benefits most.

Customer loyalty is extremely important to any business that wishes to stay in business. Customer retention is a measure of success. Most businesses won’t discuss these things with potential or even existing customers. Yes, they may say “We succeed in customer loyalty”, but that’s just a means to essentially say, “Everybody else likes us, you should too!”

Subscriptions and Membership programs, offered by any seller/retailer, are relied upon to create a baseline of how the business is doing in both loyalty and retention. They are also important in understanding habits, likes, and production needs. This work as a trade off by giving the customer a perk or benefit for their participation.

About Subscriptions

Offering subscriptions on the items that are most commonly re-purchased by a customer allows us to plan our inventory and ensures a level of customer retention. By subscribing the customer not only receives a discount on the product, as well as assurance that they will have the product they need when they need. Having a subscription service that allows flexibility for the customer gives them opportunity to tweak or adjust when and what they receive with each shipment can add to their value.

For example, a customer can purchase a Beard Oil subscription with a specific “favorite” scent in mind. If they wish to try another fragrance they can change their scent option before their next shipment. When necessary, a customer can suspend the replenishment at any time, or even cancel it altogether. You are not locked in!

Subscriptions ensure you have what you need when you need it without having to remember to do it.

About Memberships a.k.a. Rewards Program

Memberships come in different forms and have a lot of different names. In most cases, you are required to sign up to create your account to receive benefits.

  • Earn “points” to be exchanged for cash discounts later%. These are usually free to take part, but some do charge fees.
  • % Cash back. Used by Credit Cards. You may not actually get cash back, but can apply it to your balance or as gift cards to other businesses. This is paid for through a higher APR% on your account balance.
  • Make a specific number of purchases and get the next one free. Often used for drinks or other food items.
  • Receive a lower listed price on select items throughout the store. Uses a card that is scanned at checkout. Often used by grocery stores. In some cases, everyone gets the same price regardless of membership.
  • Pay an annual fee and receive an assortment of perks and discounts.

Let’s look at what is most likely a membership program nearly everyone is familiar with, Amazon Prime. Prime is an enormous multifaceted membership program. It promises lower prices, free shipping with shorter fulfillment times; along with other services like media streaming. They don’t do this for free, you need to pay an annual fee to receive these benefits.

Why is nearly every seller out there offering some sort of membership program?

One part is that they are able to influence you to shop with them exclusively, or more often. In some cases, customers will be exclusive to them. But that is an extreme expectation. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to return to a business they have a membership with, as long as they receive good service when doing business with them.

A hidden component is that the majority of these plans have a hidden mission. Through your membership they can track what you buy and how you pay. This data is compiled and shared with other businesses; often for a price. They have all the information they need – name, address, phone numbers, and email. Depending on the plan, they may also learn your age, gender, race, relationship status, family and residence details. Once you make your payment, they can learn your income level and other financial information. All this information is used for marketing to you as well as establishing various demographic profiles used by businesses and government.

How our Membership Plan is different:

We charge an annual fee. In return, you receive a 10% discount on all items we make, 5% on other items; Free Shipping on every order; a bunch of free products to try and share; special Members Only items.

Your personal information is kept secure and private. We take privacy seriously! What information we have access to is used to process your orders and contact you if there are any questions. You are not added to our mailing list, but we may mail special members only information to you. There is also nothing to really manage, but you do need to have a user account for the duration of your membership. Add the plan to your order and you will immediately benefit – qualifying items in your cart will be discounted and have free shipping. The gift pack will ship with your order, no need to even add it to your cart.

Why do we charge a fee? We look at it as a partial up front payment of shipping fees. The free gifts help sweeten the deal. By paying, you will want to get the most money out of it – to earn back as much of that fee as you can, or more. And simply, it allows us to offer this plan without a hard hit to our bottom line.

Using Subscriptions and Memberships together:

Here is where having a Membership can be a huge benefit. With so many of our most popular and often re-ordered products being available as a subscription, you can save even more! Our subscriptions items usually have a modest discount included, then you can save 10% on top of that. Then, for as long as your membership is active, you will receive every order without paying for shipping.

Who benefits the most from these plans?

Our mission is to make shopping with us, getting the products you enjoy the most, more attractive and rewarding. Subscription benefits are up front and immediate; designed to make it mindlessly easy for you to always have your favorite products on hand. With a membership, you save money on every purchase. In just a couple orders, you will see a big savings by being a member.

When combined is where we see the biggest benefit for us. By selling a higher volume of products, with more frequency, we see a more stable/predictable sales trend. The more these are used by more customers, we can start buying our materials and ingredients in larger quantities. We can also streamline our production capacity to handle the higher demand. This leads to us becoming a more efficient enterprise and the savings will likely get passed along in many of our products.

Transparency

We have a very different view of how a business operates and communicates. It is a no-brainer that any seller is doing it to make money. And, that the more they sell the more money they make. Being a tiny business our profits are tight, leaving little revenue to pay for big advertising. Honestly, the more customers we have that take part in these services helps us budget more reliably and create more effective plans for growth. Your trust in us, demonstrated through your loyalty, brings stability to our business. The best way to make it all happen, is to encourage more folks to shop with us and reward those who wish to shop more frequently.

A statement in support of BLM

Greetings to our family, customers, followers and the public at large. I personally apologize for the delay in making this statement. Do not take the delay as being silent, but an assurance that I can express myself with honesty and not take the spotlight from the more important voices to be heard. These words are my own words and not those of a PR team or created by a legal team to ensure we protect our business.

I wish to first make a statement about one of J&L’s core philosophies. As a business, we originally were very much male focused. After all, we made products for facial hair. As we grew, we developed more products that appeal to any gender identity. We all have skin, most of us have hair somewhere on our body – that we also wish to deal with; Whether it is to condition it or remove it. We make premium yet affordable natural bath, body and beard products for every body! Literally, every body. Combine this with our belief that self care can include personal care. The things we do to clean and nourish our skin can have an impact on our self-esteem and how we feel about ourselves. Anything that makes us feel better can have a greater affect on all those around us. This is why we keep doing what we are doing. We were also founded on the idea that not everyone is the same. Although we all have skin and hair, we each have different needs when it comes to the effectiveness of personal care products. We get it, and for that reason we have done our best offer a larger variety of options that focus on differing needs.

Sadly, we have lived in a world where many have not shared this ideal of accepting that such diversity. There has been a strong underlying current that developed over mankind’s history to define others as being “less than” – less than human, less than civilized, less than intelligent… the list goes on. This thinking has greatly maligned and oppressed people simply because they have more melanin within their skin. I will place some faith that people are aware of the system that created and supported our current systematized racism, and not need to go into the details. If you don’t, please take some time to educate yourself on the facts.

A system of laws and personal beliefs worked together to continue denying Black citizens full access to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Denied nearly all of them access to the rights that any other citizen was freely enjoying. This system ensured Black Americans remained in poverty and without the equitable opportunity to improve their situation. To this day, a judicial system overwhelmingly punishes Black people more harshly than white citizens for the exact same crimes. And, Blacks are more proportionately far more likely to be killed by “law enforcement”. Often by an officer stopping them for what is likely a minor infraction – like a burned out tail light on a car. Far too often, a Black man out for a walk is confronted, searched and arrested purely because their skin tone. From police, to judges, to juries that are to be of their peers further oppress Blacks.

This needs to end now!

We need to remove all officers and judges that show allegiance to white supremacist groups. We need to overhaul our judicial system to make it clear that it is truly to be blind. We support cutting back funding of police in efforts to move tax dollars to areas that can prevent crime through support and educating programs. Police need to be trained and be proficient in crisis management and deescalation of situations. Officers need to be held liable for infractions, with information kept in a national database. We need to keep bad cops from being cops! More community involvement of police with the people. Treat drug offenses as a health issue so we can provide treatment versus filling prisons.

We also strongly support Universal Health Care (Medicare for All) so every person gets the physical and mental health care they need. Free College or Trade Schooling so there is no heavy financial burden to learn the skills needed in today’s job market. All of these points and more will help ensure that the weight of poverty does not consume the lives of our Black citizens and that the law genuinely treats all people the same. Point blank, being Black should never be a death sentence!

I may not have stated every point in the right way or in a fashion to make it clear that we fully support Black Lives Matter. Why? Because BLACK LIVES MATTER! Yes, all life matters and we can say that once we make sure that BLACK LIVES start to MATTER just as much!

Now, it should be no question that we love and support people of all races, nationalities, sexuality, gender identity and personal attributes. I would love to see a world that embraces such thinking.

Sincerely, John C Dodge, and on behalf of the rest of J&L Pogonotrophics LLC