Holiday 2018

The Holiday Season is very important to us here at J&L. We never know when it really begins for us. From years of working retail before we started this little venture it always seemed like Veterans Day became the unofficial start of Christmas shopping, but for most it is Thanksgiving that starts off the Holiday Season.

There are so many wonderful celebrations that take place during this time that we cannot properly give them all the attention they deserve and keep this post short. What we will do is let all know that as part of us encouraging all to embrace their own individuality we wish all of you to celebrate any days that mean the most to you, your family and your friends in any manner you choose.

We have some great plans for this year, starting off with our biggest sale event ever. Sales are not something we do often, but when we do it is done as best as we can. This Thanksgiving Weekend we will offer up a great bargain price on a new item each day. 6 Days of Deals! Our standard Free Shipping threshold was reduced to a $10 order minimum for this sale event.

There will be a couple promotional specials in December to help with last minute stocking stuffers and thank you gifts for those on your gift giving list.

2018 has been a big year for us with lots of new products, numerous behind the scene improvements and tweaks to our J&L Pogonotrophics packaging. We hope to end this year with a lot of new friends and happy customers who will continue onward with us into 2019.

All of you mean so much to us and we wish you all the best this Holiday Season. We thank you all very kindly,

John & Larry

I didn’t think we needed to say this…

Since our founding we have taken great effort to share every possible nuance about our products, what goes into them and how we make them. Within our niche industry it is necessary as a means to set us apart from the “big guys”.

What is our niche industry, anyway?

We see ourselves among a special segment of the cosmetic and personal care industry that includes the makers of small batch natural personal care products. This is our foundation and where we are today. Although, we are aiming higher to be a strong regional brand of natural personal care products that are all made in-house – versus being made by a contract producer. We intend to always be the actual developer and maker of our goods.

While we often make point to call out that we avoid ingredients that are deemed undesirable or are proven to have a potential to cause harm, we don’t speak about our production and product testing methods.

We are cruelty free!

We do not test any of our products or their ingredients on animals. We do not acquire raw goods (ingredients) from any supplier that submits their products for animal testing. We didn’t think we had to make a big deal out of this as we figured it would be obvious.

With the bulk of our raw goods being 100% natural ingredients that are commonly used for food and soap making there is no point in testing them for potential harmful properties. We follow strict guidelines on how we use each item and never come close to meeting any risk threshold. This can be a concern with some essential oils.

All our testing is done in house with our J&L family. We give products to those close to us, as we trust they will be honest with us about how our products perform and how well they meet our expectations and reach the desired results. Scents, texture, viscosity, and a whole bunch of other properties are reported back to us to ensure we are making a product that works and is not harmful to you or the environment when used properly.

So in addition to our products being as natural as possible and free of the “bad stuff”, we are proudly cruelty free. We honestly didn’t think we had to make a big deal about it.


New Special Subscription Plans Coming for 2019

We have 2 new subscription packages launching soon that will allow you to try new scents or new products.

First will be our “Scent of the Month” plan that will kick off with the first item shipping in January. This will be part of a month long focus on a specific fragrance that will be shared across our most popular scented items from both brands. For those that subscribe, you will select your favorite item and we will automatically ship it to you in that month’s fragrance the same time every month. Some scents will be very limited and only available during that month – other scents that are limited to certain items will be made just for this Subscription plan for your selected item. We will post 3 months out what our scents will be, although we may require substituting a scent if there is an unforeseen issue.

We plan to include all Beard Oil formulas, Original Beard Butter, Bar Soap, Body Mist and 240ml Shower Wash in this plan. You can select more than 1 item type.

Our second subscription plan will be a means to get a new item every month. These will be specially selected sample version of products we currently make, soon to be introduced or a new fragrance we are trying out. The item will be a little surprise designed to introduce you more of what we have to offer. Enjoy the item for yourself or gift to someone special.

There will be a 2 options: Pogonotrophy Series which will include items from J&L Pogonotrophics; and the General Series which will highlight products from J&L Apothecary. Scents and sizes of items will vary, the focus will be on variety so you can try before you may buy.

With both of these services we anticipate offering them at a great value and include appropriate shipping, like our current Beard Oil subscription plan. We hope you will be excited about these Special Subscriptions. They would make a great gift that keeps giving all year!

One man’s trash…

Using glass has many benefits for us and for our products; but there are benefits for the environment as well. We strive to encourage all of our packaging to be recycled. We hope we can inspire you to support our vision with one way glass is being reused.

Glass is one of the most capable packaging items for recycling and today there are so many more uses for recycled glass. Previously used glass was merely ground up and melted into new glass to make more bottles and jars. Now there are some really cool ways that colored glass is being made into surfaces for your home.

When selecting countertops for our kitchen we wanted something more durable than granite and learned about recycled glass countertops while shopping. Similar in nature to quartz surfaces which uses a mix of granite dust and recycled granite pieces into colorful marble-like surfaces. Glass is being used in much the same manner; sorted by color and mixed into a resin base to give a very modern and more durable surface than granite. The glass pieces can be fine to chunky which can give sparkle and more depth than real stone.

Glass can also be embedded into concrete for countertops and other surfaces. This can even be a D.I.Y. project for yourself. First step is to start collecting the colors of bottles you wish to use. It’s easy to find ideas on home improvement shows on TV or articles on the internet.

We strongly encourage the recycling of our bottles, glass and plastic. Just think how amazing they would look as someone’s kitchen counter. If your community does not have curbside recycling, please find a local drop-off location. Let your trash become someone’s treasure.

We haven’t forgotten about skin care

With our recent focus on the bearded gents this fall, we do not intend to leave out skin care from our seasonal focus. The change of seasons takes it toll on skin as well for the same reasons it affects beards. Personally I am already noticing that my skin is more dry and itchy, and it hasn’t been that cold yet here in Chicago.

I have already had to get back into my foot care regimen using our Foot + Dry Skin Cream after every shower to put the brakes on the damage before it gets to be a problem.

Our new Revitalizing Skin Lotion with Kelp (still in testing) has being kept at hand. It has been SOOOOOO awesome that I cannot wait to share it with all of you. Kelp is great for building collagen and great moisturizers like aloe, shea butter and argan oil do great work to keep my skin soft. Using the same organic base as our other lotions means it absorbs quick and doesn’t feel greasy. We hope to have our first batch ready very soon!

Masks are an ideal way to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize skin – and not just for your face. You can use a mask anywhere you tend to have “problem skin” – arms, legs, chest, back. They are also a great way to detox from antiperspirant use; helping remove the build-up of pore clogging ingredients from your underarm.

Later this month we will shine a spotlight on our Clay Mask Creator System. Our growing array of clay mixes and added ingredients that help you craft a custom mask to suit your needs, even as your needs change. You can also combine our clays with items you may already have in your home; like honey, cider vinegar, lemon juice, avocado – the list is endless! Already value priced, we will offer a great discount on all our clay masks before the end of October so you can stock up.

Rest assured, if you are in need of amazing, natural, high-quality yet affordable skin care products J&L has you covered!

Be You: Be Epic!

It is a simple statement but with a massive meaning to us here at J&L.

Being gents with rather big beards we often had our beards described by others as being epic. Having an “epic beard” became a thing. Starting out as a beard care brand we wanted to help others have epic beards too; and not just because they were substantially longer or fuller. We felt that every man with a beard was showing their own definition of epic. BE EPIC became our tag line, motto and a big part of our philosophy as we wished to show our support for every man’s unique qualities.

After launching J&L Apothecary we felt that the beard reference hidden in “Be Epic” would not suit the brand. Instead we focused on how these personal care basics were good for all people regardless of their gender or gender representation. We all have skin, most have hair and we all need to take care of it. We went with “Personal Care for EVERY Body” as our tag line.

I was never genuinely happy with it, but it was something that sent a message that anybody can benefit from our products. But, it didn’t send that same positive message nor did it feel inclusive. Where “Be Epic!” was empowering, “EVERY body” was meh.

A good friend and advisor asked why I did not continue to use Be Epic for J&L Apothecary. I described how I perceived its meaning as a reason why I was not using it. She instantly dismissed my line of thinking. She reminded me of what my philosophies were behind telling everybody to Be Epic. That it was not telling people that my products were going to make you epic, its letting folks know to continue being epic because they already are. She said to me that I was sending a message letting people know that being yourself is the best thing in the world they can do for themselves; that personal care is an important part of self care.

Be You – be everything you are. Be the amazing unique you and not feel the need to try to be anything more or less than that.

Be Epic – because you are. You are full of great things and your imperfections make you even greater. Tell your story, it is just as interesting as Beowulf’s and others will appreciate it as it is.

How does our brand fit into this? After all, we are not telling you our products will make you Epic. We feel that there are so many components to help you express yourself through personal care. Other brands directly or indirectly tell you that you need to look, act, or BE a certain way; and that their products will achieve that for you – directly or indirectly. We would rather say you are the best way, YOUR way; and we may have a product that compliments it in a means that you are happy with. By offering choices that most others do not, offering them at a price less than most premium or luxury brands and with equal or greater quality so you get the most out of your personal care routine.

This is why we say:

BE YOU: BE EPIC!

What is Expanded Assortment?

For us, it is a means to offer more without having to maintain an inventory of made goods to satisfy potential sales. It is a way to give you more options with a touch of “Made for You” built in.

Over the years we have made limited run Special Edition fragrances that were well liked. We also produced some great scents that were really liked by some, but not well enough to keep making it to have on hand for sales.

With changes to how we produce our Beard Oils, we can now support a custom scenting option that would ensure you still get a quality product in a timely manner and permits us to offer these rare scents to expand our assortment of products available. There will be a small price increase for these offerings as it does add a step to our making and order fulfillment processes, and some of these scents do use pricier essential oils as well. The price will be $16.00 per 30 ml bottle, $1.00 more than the rest and still less expensive that most higher quality Beard Oils out there.

In coming weeks we will be adding up to 8 new scent options and reclassifying 4 current scents to be part of this customization feature. These will look just like the rest, but you will know it was scented just for you!

It is part of our way of offering you more for less than other premium beard care makers out. Helping you find that perfect way to express yourself. It is why we say “Be You: Be Epic!”

Brand Loyalty

A big hurdle for any new maker bringing their brand into the even the smallest of local markets is dealing with brand loyalty of potential customers. When releasing a new product or an entire line of goods you not only have the challenge to reaching all potential customers, but overcoming objections from brand loyalists.

There is a level of bias that one will have with a product they have found to be reliable, dependable and some level of value. They are less likely to take a look, sample or try something new. Even if it is very likely it could exceed any of their expectations.

As a seller, you cannot “hard sell” to these customers. You risk annoying them which can easily lead to low reviews for your products or brand. Some of these people are open to samples and other incentives to try your product. They may be skeptical, but will give it a chance.

Studies show that roughly 47% of men and 48% of women describe themselves as being brand loyal for their personal care needs. This roughly translates to half of all our potential customers are less likely to try our products and can easily be turned away from our brand if we push to gain their business.

To grow our business we must overcome as much brand loyalty as we can to gain new customers. Today, this is our biggest challenge. For us to break from being the strong local brand we are for our niche of a very crowded industry to a more valued brand in other markets we need to be able to add more repeat customers.

We love our loyal customers, they give us the most feedback and encouragement to drive forward with everything we do. Being realists as well as wishing to promote a more open market, we believe we do not need to be all things to all our current and future customers. That to erode away brand loyalty and promote a broad variety of brands, makers and products to be found in every home. To have choice for your personal care needs that suits to needs as they sway and change from day to day, week to week.

When promoting self care through personal care, it is important that the products you are using not only take care of the specific need for that item but it supports or enhances your being for that day. This could easily mean that one product from one brand relaxes you on a stressful day and that another product from another brand invigorates you on a day you are feeling sluggish. With this view we feel there is room for more brands in every home which all can do well in the marketplace and genuinely satisfy the consumer’s needs. This will permit us to grow and reach new customers and be around longer for those who already love our products.

New J&L Apothecary Packaging Coming

Slowly, very slowly, as we make our way through current packaging inventory we will transition to new clear or white jars and bottles for all J&L Apothecary items.

Initially we went with blue as that is what we were using for J&L Pogonotrophics and many of our first J&L Apothecary products were originally started under that brand. As we try to capture the clean and simple nature behind our J&L Apothecary line we felt that carrying that idea into our packaging would be the right move. White is like a blank canvas that lets other parts shine and will be used for many of our lotions, creams and soaps. We will use clear jars for our masks and scrubs to let you see more easily what’s inside. For items that contain 100% natural oils or need to be protected from light we will likely continue to use the cobalt blue glass bottles.

These measures will also help us keep our prices lower as these options are also less expensive than the blue versions. For many of our items, the packaging has the largest impact upon our retail pricing.

As we make this transition over the coming months you may receive the new packaging while our images will be of the previous blue variation.

Also of note is that due to supply issues, there may be times that we need to use an alternate color for packaging of our J&L Pogonotrophics products. A few of our preferred styles can come to be in short supply which leads to our suppliers being out of dramatically raising the prices to lower demand. Our option for J&L Pogonotrophics is to use amber jars and bottles when this happens. Amber provides the same UV protection for our oils as the blue, ensuring your beard oil stays as fresh as possible.

Why we use plastic packaging

We wish to do our best to ensure we are respecting our environment as we produce and sell our natural hair and skin products. Using plastic containers for our products may not be the best way to communicate this.

Launching our Beard Oil it was important for us to use glass containers. Not only for the environment, but for the quality of the product. Oils can degrade plastic over time, causing a minor level of contamination. Knowing that these products will most likely be kept away from the shower, if stored in a bathroom, we were comfortable feeling that there would be low risk of broken glass cutting you if the bottle were to be dropped.

For other items we felt it was not wise to use glass. With many of these items being larger capacity, it meant they were at greater risk for breakage and much heavier to transport. Without the need to protect the contents as well as we needed to for our Beard Oils, it was reasonable to use plastic for these other items.

We use PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics for our jars and bottles which are the most easily and commonly recycled plastics. They are light weight, durable and shatter proof. They are a necessary evil in our industry. As much as we would love an affordable option that is either made of post-consumer goods or of natural materials that are rapidly biodegradable, such does not exist.

It is important for us to promote recycling of these containers as much as we can. As we update our labeling we are placing a reminder to you to support recycling efforts. We do not wish for these to directly end up in a landfill. To save on waste and the use of plastic was the impetus behind our new shampoo bars as well as the expanding line of bar soaps.

Do be assured we did not make these decisions lightly. As much as we wish to protect our environment. we feel this was the right decisions for today.