No City Made Fest this year

We were so looking forward to taking part in City Made Fest this year. The event that focuses on crafts, products, beer and music that is made in the city of Chicago – not suburbs or anywhere else. This was our first Chicago street festival and our favorite. We loved the concept and the culture it promotes.

After our second year the organizing entity merged with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. We learned that last year the event was to be on hiatus with no reason given. It was assumed that major work being done on city water and sewer lines that started last fall was a cause. Today I learned that the festival is not going to happen this year either. A reason given was not explanatory enough – “based upon feedback”.

A great event that raised awareness of locally made goods and was well attended is not going to happen again for no real reason. The neighborhood Chamber of Commerce that now oversees this event has another, bigger, event they produce. Andersonville’s Midsommarfest is HUGE. It draws vendors and participants from all over the country. People from all around flock to Clark Street to experience it. One would think that such a festival would be enough, that a smaller fest held later in the summer is not needed in a neighborhood.

Roscoe Village, another Chicago neighborhood that also hosts street festivals, is capable of supporting 3 such festivals and they are only weeks apart. Two of the festivals are on the same street, covering same blocks. The beneficiaries of the revenues may be different but the organizing entities are pretty much the same.

Andersonville has been very kind to us and our relationship started with that first City Made Fest that we were a part of. We will continue to support this community as they have us. It is sad that such a needed unique event will not happen again and there is no explanation why.

 

Pop Up at Andersonville Farmer’s Market, May 23 3:00 to 8:00 PM

POP-UP SHOP!

We will be a Special Guest Vendor at Andersonville Farmer’s Market for this one day only!

Held every Wednesday through the warmer months on Berwyn Ave between Clark St & Ashland Ave. This is a smaller market than most in the city but it is a great mix of produce and products. We love Andersonville and they seem to love us back. At this first Pop-Up of the season we will be highlighting what’s new share what’s coming. It is always wonderful to interact with folks and we cannot wait to set up shop!

 

Launch day is coming soon!

We are nervous and excited with this launch.

Whenever you make such dramatic changes to your web presence it brings the risk of bug and glitches. Tiny oversights that appear with the potential to be embarrassing or distracting.

The excitement comes from knowing all the potential this presents you. We shall be more easily reactive to the needs and demands of customers through purchasing. As we roll all of this out over the coming months we will encounter new challenges to an already busy time of the year for us. Summer brings festival pop-up stores. These pop-ups become 75% of our annual sales. The increase to our customer base leads to added business later. Production is a constant throughout these months as we are making more to sell and more to replenish what sold and which will sell later. We often head into the holiday season well prepared for what it brings. To add to this hectic mix major updates and revisions to our website may spread us thin.

But, it is important. Not only to you but to us. We will present a better experience all around. It is establishing us more firmly as a strong regional craft maker of personal care and grooming products. The stronger we become the better we can become. Increased sales leads to more buying power for materials which leads to better pricing for us and lower prices for you.

This new website and store is another part of all the wonderful changes we have been making this year. New innovative products with out Clay Mask Creator System, Foaming Face Wash and new scents in our Men’s Shaving line. We have a couple more items to come that add more to our strength of offering a comprehensive line of gender neutral skin care products. Our aim is to make skin care more important to everyone and to show how easy it is. We have plans for even more to come as we focus on UV protection and more luxurious spa quality items a down to Earth prices.

By May 12, 2018 our new site should be up and running. Pardon any typos or flaws as we iron out any rough spots.

We thank you so much for your continued support,
John & Larry
Founders of J&L Pogonotrophics

The crew behind J&L

Although I am the principle person behind most things J&L, there are a few other people that help out behind the scenes and out in front during our Pop Ups. Some are actually blood relatives and others are very dear friends that we feel are a part of our family. As we grow, we hope they grow with us.

Most important to both ends of the business is Larry. He has been in my life for 14 years and we have been married 3 of them. He has worked hard to help push me forward as well as holding me back from when I feel the urge to push forward sooner than would be prudent. He’s the first person to hear ideas and often a sound voice when giving his insights. J&L is not a full time job for him, leaving him with little opportunity to be as deeply involved as he would like. He is always visible when we are selling and can often be found on social media promoting us and taking on the work of a salesman.

John F is another behind the scenes person although his work is viewed by everyone who visits our site or other outlets. He is an extremely talented photographer and is responsible for our visual presentation. Whether is work is generic product shots, pictures of us to put a face to the business or any of our promotional images we craft. His involvement is growing as he has more time to devote to his work with us. He puts his time in at our Pop Ups as well and does his best to set his creative self aside and do his best to be a salesman.

Brandon Cook has a small role behind the scenes as a sales manager, working to acquire new retailers to carry our wares. He is attentive, courteous and friendly to everyone, every time. When selling at our Pop Ups he is well loved by folks who feel he is trustworthy and knowledgeable. Brandon is also my nephew, so genuinely part of the family. Yeah, there is some nepotism involved. His wife Crystal also joins in the fun when she can. Together they are great fun to have around.

Ted & Dillon: Two guys that are good friends of ours that help us out wherever they can when they can. Dillon has been a model for us in the past and we hope to get him to sit for us again. Ted is an artist which has displayed his works in our Pop Ups along with helping serve customers. Both are strong supporters of our brand and talk us up to others.

Larry and John F will provide their own insights as contributors to this blog. Our wish is to have different voices behind the stories.

We may not always get together at once to be caught as a team, but when any of the parts join we know it is going to be a great time for us and for those around us. If you do get a chance to come to one of our Pop Ups, be sure to say hi!

Why can’t this be easier?

As part of our transition to WordPress/WooCommerce we knew we would not have the same experiences we had previously. The trade-off having a template to make layout a breeze leads to precision formatting requiring more effort. Where before all I needed to do was draw a text box, apply a style (font, size, spacing) and start typing now I need to dig into coding to ensure what is see here is what I get there.

At launch of our new store we will not be able to provide any of our customized sets. Where Ecwid made this easy, allowing a customer to select each variable, WooCommerce requires you to pay for an expensive “plug-in” to get the same result. The mission is to get the basics fully functional first before we start adding in extras. This means we will have to put off offering something we have offered previously.

Granted, we built what we had gradually over a longer period of time and now are looking to recreate it all in a matter of a couple weeks. The pressure is on to be able to flip a switch and YOU will only see a sparkly new website.

Work needs to be done for our existing customers to be able to see an easy migration. Existing customers will not be able to track their purchase history once this is all complete. We may be able to have both stores functional on our end for some time for our reference but we won’t be able to give that access to our customers without creating confusion. We will be looking into exporting as much information as possible and make the full disclosure of what customers will need to do to create a new account with our WooCommerce store.

We are on target to have the new site in position to be fully tested and operational by mid May. By the end of June we will be closing our Ecwid store to the public. We are not sure what our options will be for those who shop directly through Facebook as we have not looked into WooCommerce integration.

Our big hope is that once we get this all up and running we can start adding all those cooler features we wanted to add way back – mainly Subscriptions for our most heavily used products. A poll may be in order to learn what people may be looking for in such a service.

Again, by the time you read this all the work has likely been completed. Some of you reading this may never have seen our soon to be former WebShop. It was clunky, but it was OURS – well, outside of the functionality of it. We know that this new WebShop will be better. As the parents of this baby we are sad to see her grow up so fast and those chubby cheeks becoming less rosy.

Big Thanks!

John

 

New Direction

It was time we rebuilt our presence from the ground up. Our web developing tools were becoming clunky and limited. Our eCommerce solution had it’s limits as well. Both were getting costly for what little they offered us.

Doing it all in house and our way is very important to us. Although pressure was there to be more like everybody else. We are going to still fight that despite using very popular platforms that rely upon pre-established themes that have limited customization possibilities.

Our most important component will be to have a quicker loading store with en extremely simple look that allows our product to speak for itself. In time we hope to add features that permit subscriptions for our most consumed products as well as more robust customization of gift sets and packaged sets.

Being able to tell stories and share insights within our website will be beneficial as well.

This post is being written as we begin the development of our new site. We know it will likely be months before it is full ready for the masses. For those that care, we will do our best to share our journey as we go.