Transitioning to Flexible Packaging

The state of the supply chain because of the current pandemic has pushed us into more aggressively seeking a new means to package and sell our liquid soaps. We plan to transition all liquid soaps to a more eco-friendly flat bottom pouch for SHOWER WASH, BEARD SHAMPOO, LIQUID SHAMPOOS and CONDITIONERS.

We started exploring “flexible packaging” last summer to help reduce the environmental impact of the plastics we use. Our thinking was that a soft sided pouch filled with SHOWER WASH would serve as a refill to any bottle you may already have. J&L would still offer an empty bottle and pump for a low price and possibly add some style options as well. This would operate like many other “refill” scenarios out there for household and personal care products.

Now that bottles are in short supply and it can be months before we can acquire more, it is sensible to explore this concept more aggressively today. The process to purchase these pouches is already in motion and could be available to us much sooner than bottles.

There are some great benefits for you and the environment with this change. First, they weigh less and use a lot less plastic. This makes them cheaper to ship; to us from the manufacturer and to you when purchased. Both of these expenses are factored into our product price. Our current bottles can easily be 1/3 to 1/2 the manufacturing costs of everything we make. Where with some bottles it is hard to get all the product out, leaving up to 14% of the product going to waste, depending upon the contents, a pouch makes it easy to squeeze out nearly every drop. Pouches take less energy to produce and dramatically lower the carbon footprint of packaging. By using them as a refill for an existing bottle, less plastic is heading to a landfill. These pouches are also PET, which means they can be recycled. As much as we would love to find a much more green solution to our packaging, this puts us a lot closer to our goal.

Here is the biggest plus to you: where we save money gives us a means to lower their price. Currently our SHOWER WASH comes in a 360ml/12.2 oz bottle and we sell it for $15.00 in our store. A pouch variant could be 400ml/13.5 oz and we could potentially sell it for $13.50 – giving you over an ounce more while you pay less. Our BEARD SHAMPOO could even be a bigger savings. This is all tentative based upon our early negotiations with suppliers.

This plan is in an early stage at this time, but we hope to go into summer making this a reality. If this works out as well as we anticipate, we will work to find similar packaging for lotions and creams along with any other dispensable liquid or cream product we make. The flexibility in this packaging is nearly limitless.

We think you will like all the options this will bring, letting you refill any bottle you have or you could even use it straight from the pouch if you wish to be frugal. Once bottles are more available, we will look into providing a few options to assist in matching your style. Keep following us on Facebook to stay in the loop on this as it develops.

A Personal Message

Before I get to the heart of the message…

I wish to let you know that this is a very personal message from me, John, the founder of J&L Pogonotrophics; and difficult for me to write. Although I often reference J&L as “us” and “we”, in essence this is a one person operation and is my sole source of income. Those who have seen us out and about at festivals and such have met others that are part of the J&L family, who volunteer their time and services to help a friend get their business going to reap the benefits of future success. These folks are a part of the “us” and are affected by the current situation as supporters of my efforts.

Although you can find us online anywhere in the world, we are a local small business in Chicago. As we all are struggling to find means to support all those affected by this pandemic, we are struggling as well. From inability to replenish supplies to cancellation of in-person sale events; the temporary closure of shops that sell our goods and the diminishing of online orders; we are trying our best to keep going.

We are doing everything we can to sustain business. While many of our competitors, who are also small businesses, rely upon large scale or outsourced production and operations to maximize their profits; we do everything ourselves in-house with tighter margins (lower profits). That means we are feeling the impact sooner and more harshly. We have not only seen our sales decline, but website traffic as well during a time that is normally like a second Christmas for us. Our inventory is limited to everything we have produced as we cannot affordably source supplies at this time. With the increase in costs for supplies we are either forced to raise prices or lose orders, either way we lose sales. Due to the cancellation of nearly all public events and the forecast that COVID-19 will remain an issue throughout the summer, we anticipate all our festival appearances to be cancelled as well. This would be a devastating blow to our business as the festivals are a major revenue maker and a means to gain new customers.

The CARES stimulus package will not help us as we are too small of a business to qualify for any of the loans or grants. As the business owner, I do not qualify for any personal assistance as well, making this extremely difficult for me. Over the last 6 years or so I have grown tremendously as a person and as business. I genuinely love what I am doing. Most of all, I love knowing that I have touched the lives of folks in even the tiniest of ways. It is very endearing to have a gentleman gush about how much they love my product; that meeting me was a highlight of their life. How do you respond to that? All I could do is smile and thank them for helping me do my thing and that I hope I can continue to be here for them.

This post is a plea. We are asking all those who find benefit from our products, who enjoy what they do or how they make them feel to shop with us in any means possible. Grabbing a bottle of your favorite beard oil, or a bar of soap will help us sustain ourselves during this time. Honestly, any little will help. We have lowered our FREE SHIPPING threshold to $25, half of what it was previously. We will also be dropping the price of PRIMP+JOL CLUB to $17 which allows you to receive 10% off every item we make plus get FREE SHIPPING on every order. To support this, we are shrinking the size of our Welcome Gift, but overall this will be a great value if you use it more than twice within a year. Our mission with PRIMP+JOL CLUB was to make it easier for shoppers to order as they need and not be concerned about shipping fees. We also offer GIFT CERTIFICATES so you can easily gift J&L to others, or pay now and shop later.

If we make our sales goals for April and May, we should be able to sustain business through the summer as well as boost our advertising to let more people know about us. Every dollar will allow us to pay our bills and buy more supplies. It will also allow me to keep going, not just the business.

We know life for all of us will not be the same after this, but we trust that we will get back to being a warm and engaging society where we can mingle among each other in public. When that time comes, we hope to be back out there at festivals and meeting all of you wherever we can. Until then, stay safe and take care of yourself and those around you.

Thank you for being a supporter of this small business!

Sincerely,
John C Dodge

March Focus: J+L Apothecary Branding Refresh

When we fully committed to J+L Apothecary (JLA) as a product line, it was imperative we clearly create its own iconic brand image. Forus, it needed to be something that captured two key elements of the brand: skin and hair essentials (basics), and be gender neutral.

We took some time looking through the history of modern person care branding. The 1950s was a big change for the marketplace. Many popular products that are household names to this day can trace their origins back to this time. Much like our branding of J&L Pogonotrophics, that evokes the early 1900s with being the last era where men having facial hair was commonplace, we felt that the ’50s was an ideal era to reflect in our branding.

Another time period that had a major impact on the original design for our labeling was the 1980s and the ‘Generic Brands” of the day. A very minimalist, monochromatic style that was heavy on direct and to the point text. With the 1950’s being light on color and images for packaging, mix that with the 1980’s generics with bold text and simplicity, we feel we created something that openly communicated “basics” and not force an engendered appearance.

As you can see above, we went super simple with naming, text style and color. Text was bold, information was minimal and there was as minimal color. When we used color, it was in two ways, to identify a product category, or to highlight variants of a product. The color band that was the highlight for the Brand name subtly noted whether it was a soap, skin care product or hair care product. We didn’t openly communicate that little detail to consumers as we liked hearing the “Aha!” moment when it was figured out.

For our brand refresh we are executing this year we did not want to lose touch on many of those key components, but it was obvious we needed to improve our labels to be more eye catching. With our transition to white or clear bottles and jars, our previous style was less appealing.

The color coding was retained and is still used to denote product category. Gone is most of the white space, to be filled with a coding color gradient. Text remains bold and is more consistently used. Scale of text sets product and variation names apart from helpful product information, which is new to our labels.

With our new look, our product names are more prominent, our brand name is less pronounced and more strategically placed for clarity. Smaller text calls our key features and ingredients. Color is more comforting by use of a gradient that transitions from bold to white.

Testing of this new look was well received. People liked sharpness of the product name being out front. The additional information provided helps one perform a quick comparison to determine if the item will suit their needs. Ingredients are generally on the left; use and maker information to the right. Reviewers felt this was more modern yet very much held to our brand values.

Over the course of this year you will see this branding roll out to more and more products. First we need to move through current inventory of produced goods as well as current label stock. Some products feature above, are still in development but should be launching soon. Also, some items are seeing a minor tweak to their name to better reflect their uses. For example, HAND + BODY LOTION is now called FACE, HANDS + BODY lotion to help customers know that it can also be used on their face with great results. We call it FHB for short, and it will be a featured product on our Facebook page this coming Saturday.

Please comment or share your thoughts with us, it is always great to hear from you.

Reflection and a Peek Into 2020

2019 was another good year for us when looking at the big picture. Although we had some great wins, there were certainly some opportunities this year.

Any business’s 5th year is a mixed bag full of growing pains. It has been no different for us. We were presented with some challenges that we may not have handled at our best as well as amazing wins. Through the year we added a lot of new features and benefits to our online store, and have changed how we handle our Festival and limited Pop-Ups.

This year we introduced gift credit [cards], product subscriptions, order specific automatic reward emails and a shopping membership club. Little by little we have been updating our product information within our website to provide more information in a less cluttered manner. All of these things will continue through 2020, but there may be further improvement tweaks to how the operate. We know not all things are for all people, but it is awesome to have options. And, every option we offer allows the shopper to have the experience that suits them best.

Our biggest challenge this year came from our Festival participation. As much as these can be a huge business driver for us, they can also be very problematic. Too many factors can create a negative experience for us as well as those shopping with us. This year we had to deal with unruly crowds that blocked access to our booth, poor assigned booth locations that made interactions with shoppers near impossible, and poor weather that kept people away from the festival entirely. As these outings are very traffic driven, fewer people in attendance means fewer sales. With the comparatively lower average price per item, we have to work harder than many vendors to break even at these festivals. Anything that negatively affects our ability to engage with those attending can means a loss for us. To be fully transparent, we only had 2 successful outings this year.

Despite the troubles with events, our on-line business saw substantial growth. This is ultimately where we need to be until we have a brick & mortar location. While the events do a great job an introducing us and providing a means to interact with us and our products, they do not provide consistency. Seeing our online business grow allows us to plan and understand trends more accurately. This is how we can gauge customer loyalty and truly see what sells and does not sell.

Looking Forward

For 2020 we are revamping our involvement with outdoor festivals. We will only participate in those that genuinely support their vendors. We plan to take part in a couple maker-seller events instead of “street festivals”. Such events focus on vendors like us, and are not about selling beer and providing top-notch entertainment. Through other vendors, we have been encouraged to take part in such events.

2020 will be a year of change for us. It is true that we have been a constantly evolving organization, but this year we intend to fully revamp our J&L APOTHECARY branding as well as overhaul many products to make them more sustainable and environmentally friendly. This has been important for us from the start, but when you are a tiny business it is financially difficult to procure GREEN packaging. As me move through existing packaging we will transition to more metal, more glass and more easily recycled plastics. We also plan to take steps to reduce shipping costs as well as end user plastics by offering a “re-fill” concept for liquid products. This will allow us to sell you a larger capacity product that you can easily store in your home and fill any bottle of your choice, or buy a more decorative bottle from us.

Over the last few months we have moved to a wax paper packaging for bar soaps. The wax is an organic material that protect the product from moisture and along with the paper, it is biodegradable as well. Unfortunately, we cannot move entirely away from plastic, as the trade offs lead to heavier products that are more expensive to ship and are may break in transit or in your home. The majority of our products are intended for use in bathrooms where water and glass can be a major hazard.

This new year will also kick off our plans to restructure our debt to free up cash flow. The measures we plan to take will allow us to advertise more which will gain us new customers as well as permit us to improve many aspects of our business – from supply chain to administrative.

We are also willing to explore other means of increasing our capital. This can be done through various investment opportunities or bringing on board an equity partner. These are options we are still sorting out and will consider if presented to us.

Expect to see a lot of new fragrances coming over the year. We plan to expand the use of 3 scents we tested this summer and we have a few more in development. We intend to make it easier to offer more options in fragrance through a “scent to order” system that can be implemented for online as well as in person sales. Many of our oils and liquid soaps can quickly scented on the fly as needed. This will allow us to reduce waste while offering more options. This system will roll out over the year as well sell through existing inventory and transition to the “re-fill” system.

Our mission for 2020 and beyond is to:

  • Continually improve our products, packaging and other offerings to be an even better option
  • To improve the shopping experiences online and in person
  • Free up cash flow to streamline our operations and support continued growth
  • Introduce new and improved products that further reflect our core values
  • Maintain our premium quality while still offering a more affordable price
  • Further violate expectations of our industry – to be even more visionary and breaking barriers

Thank you!

Since our launch we have seen real competitors come and go. They flash big with a lot of fanfare and advertising to then fade into oblivion. Many of them relied upon gimmicks or lacked originality when it came to their products or their image. We are still here! Despite some challenges we are stable and we are growing every day.

We are very humbled by our success up to this point. What was meant to be just a little “side gig” has become a full-time business. Although we are tiny and have taken our time to grow, we feel we are poised to break through this year. The last 5 years was like a BETA test in some ways. We offered a functional product and relied upon your feedback to make it better. We feel that this coming year we are finally able to come out of beta, and release a robust and complete experience for everyone. To those who tried us early on and was not impressed, check us out now! We are only going to get even better!

Retiring Products and Scents for 2019

We have a policy to rotate out some of our fragrances from time to time. This allows us to introduce new scents to meet trends and evolving tastes. Every year we will work to introduce a few scents in a couple select products to check engagement and popularity. If well received they may get brought to our most popular products in a larger scale. Retired scents will still be available as a custom option in products that permit such an option to be maintained – essentially liquid soaps, beard care.

Production of the following fragrances has ended. Once existing stock is sold, we will not be producing complete units. There is a chance that they may return if there is demand or as a seasonal option.

TAROCCO – bitter citrus (J&L Pognotrophics)
CITRUS GROVE – herbal citrus blend (J&L Apothecary)
LONDON – rose peony (J&L Apothecary, Solid Cologne will continue)

LEXINGTON – removed from J&L Pogonotrophics’ Shaving Products only, Beard Care line will continue.

Retiring and Changing Products

Liquid Shampoo & Conditioner: New formulas are being introduced very soon. And remaining old stock is being discounted to make room. These formulas will match our most beneficial formulas of our BAR SHAMPOO line.

BAR SOAPS: The CRYSTAL & ORGANIC OILS Bar Soaps will come to an end. Some will be migrated to a new opaque soap base made from high-glycerin HEMP SEED OIL [This is the same base used for our ACTIVATED CHARCOAL SOAP]; other scents will be migrated the SHEA BUTTER formula. Once all existing stock is sold, expect to see the new bars.

240ml SHOWER WASH has been discontinued. We may introduce the scents that were targeted towards kids and those who appreciated the whimsical fragrances at shower time in our 360ml size.

All SHOWER WASH 360ml units will be replaced with 500ml “pouches” in 2020. Once we exhaust all our current packaging we will transition to a more sustainable packaging concept. The pouches will be such that they can be used to refill existing bottles you may have, use of an in shower soap dispenser or we will present a few options in bottles to use anywhere in your home. There is no plan to change the formula, although we may change the name to promote use of this great liquid soap as a hand soap and bubble bath.

J&L Apothecary branded shaving products. The formulas have been identical to our J&L Pogonotrophics line and we feel that those women who wish to use our shaving products will not be put-off by the alternate branding; especially when it will offer them more choice.

J&L Pogonotrophics branded Solid Cologne changing to J&L Apothecary branding. No formula changes, new scents coming!

J&L Pogonotrophics’ Shaving Soap in a Jar is being deleted. We have had an issue with jar quality that was creating too many defective units. Our plan is to reintroduce this product in 2020.

J&L APOTHECARY will receive a new look. It was overdue for a facelift, so we are making 2020 the year to do it. There is also work being done to change the name of the brand to avoid legal issues in some states. The name change is not definite as we will look into every point that such a change will impact. We will move forward with our new packaging with the existing brand name of J&L Apothecary. If, and when, we do change the name we will simply replace it on all existing packaging and marketing materials. We do not see any bulk change to formulas or product as a result of this change.

CLAY MASK MAKER: We are looking to revitalize our Clay Mask components with better communication on how it works, why it is a better option for a clay mask and what an amazing value it is. When speaking directly to a shopper it has been well received and rather popular. Online, the message does not seem to translate well enough.

A goal that is impacting much of our planned changes:

Becoming more sustainable is important to us. As we have focused so much on natural ingredients, we have not focused much on the sustainability of our products, packaging and all the components that go into making them. The idea is to change production methods to support less waste and a fresher product without sacrificing quality or options. Our plan for SHOWER WASH, as mentioned above, is the first step in this process.

We would love to use less plastic but for many of our items are used in areas of the home that are not ideal for glass containers. Where we can, we will transition to metal, glass or paper packaging. Where we do use plastic, we wish to use less of it or ensure it and is a more easily recycled plastic.

This is a goal that we feel we have been behind in instituting. Being a tiny business makes being sustainable very expensive. It has been more important for us to keep costs down until we are in a position to be smarter about what we use and how we use it. The time is right for us to make this transition and we trust you embrace the changes we plan to make.

Change is Inevitable, and Necessary

Over the last few years we have gone through a lot of changes, as people and as a company. When we started this little endeavor it was intended to be a hobby to make a couple extra bucks. Due to life changes and our products being well received, we have changed into a small, boutique, brand of products that are much loved by many; but not widely known. With ongoing changes we hope to expand our exposure to more people.

We started it all with 3 beard oil formulas in 3 scents; eventually getting up to 6 formulas. Today we have settled back to 3 and offer 16+ scents. Our packaging and labels have evolved with us as we sought a clearer way to present our products. Expanding well beyond beard oils and into total bath & body products for everyone, including the family pet.

When we launched J&L Apothecary, it was to meet a request of a reseller that wished to have products, made by us, that would appeal more to female customers. They dropped the ball on this venture and with a bunch of produced products we created, not only a new line of products, but a new brand. J&L Apothecary was not the ideal name for this brand but was what first popped into our heads when we made up our test products. Unable to come up with something better, we stuck with it.

Since that time, we have also learned that in some states use of the word Apothecary is reserved strictly for licensed pharmacists use. In our home state of Illinois, this only applies to a retail businesses. To avoid confusion and potential legal issues we have decided to rename this product line and brand.

New Name for J&L Apothecary?

J&L Apothecary is just over 2 years old now, making it early enough in its history to make a name change without a negative impact. When we find this new name, we will ensure there is solid communication to everyone that the only thing changing is the name and that everything else will be as before.

As we sell through existing inventory of J&L Apothecary Brand products we will work on finding a new name that suits the brand and our mission. Labels and packaging will also change with the new branding.

Big change for SHOWER WASH

We are migrating to a more environmentally friendly package concept. Our goal is to offer a 16 or 24 ounce (500ml – 750ml) pouch to fill and re-fill bottles. We will also offer a small variety of bottles that you can re-use over and over. The pouches will still be easily recycled while using less plastic.

Once this new package concept rolls out, we will introduce the same for liquid shampoos, conditioner, pet shampoo and other liquid soaps. The bottles we will offer will for from a basic PET plastic bottle to more decorative glass, metal and plastic options and offer different sizes. We would love to use only glass bottles for our products but the costs to ship and the risk of breakage during shipping as well as in your shower is far too costly, and not a risk we wish to take.

Our Values and Mission will not change.

J&L will continue to grow in an endless drive to be better. It is not acceptable for us to merely make a few nice products and then rest. If we did that, we would never last. We challenge ourselves daily and we have put a challenge to the industry of which we are a part. The Cosmetic/Personal Care industry needs to change. The sexist advertising, fear mongering towards consumers to drive sales, and ignoring the wishes of the customer is not sustainable anymore. This is at the core of what J&L was built around.

With these necessary changes coming to J&L Apothecary, it will remain a Gender Neutral personal care product line that focuses on product performance over unnecessary gender and customer profiling. J&L Pogonotrophics will still cater mainly to those with facial hair and the most masculine attributes of a person, but are still a viable option for any person with a need to condition or remove hair.

Look forward to seeing a contest to help us rename J&L Apothecary later this Fall!

More About Fragrance

We get it, we offer a lot of different scents. It may even be overwhelming to find the right fragrance for you, or for the person you are shopping for. In the personal care/cosmetic industry (sadly, this is an industry) fragrance is an important component of the products. These are things you are putting on your body, and they must not clash with whatever else you may be wearing as well as not be off-putting to your own senses. Even if the product is not scented, it’s natural fragrance still matters.

flower and spice

Why do we offer so many choices?

Simply because we wish to cover as much of the scent spectrum as possible. To offer sweet to musky; light to bold; fresh to earthy. It is easy for us to offer so many choices as each scent blend we have is added last and can be easily dosed for each item. Everything we make is in very small batches; with most only having a dozen units or less per batch. Our approach to our manufacturing can easily be scaled up as we grow which will allow us to continue to offer more options than most other brands.

Does this method add to the price of our products?

No. I am sure you will find many analyst tell you it does. That is the downside of thinking very narrowly at how things have always been done. As we say, “We not only think outside the box, we don’t put ourselves in a box to begin with.” Our production methods are such that it is more similar to the automotive industry in regards to color. Some cars still come in 6, 8, 12 different colors direct from the factory. Paint is applied in a wholly separate process and can even be randomized. Our scents are added as the last component before bottling/packaging. For many items, they can be added and with a few shakes be fully scented and ready for use. For example, we can produce a larger batch of Beard Oil of 36 units and have them bottled and ready – then we separate into groups of how many we wish to make of each fragrance option. The scent is added, we plug and cap the bottle and give it a good shake. Next step is simply applying a label.

Unscented does not equate being scent free.

Not everything we make is “scented”, but everything has a scent. When the terms “unscented” or “natural” is used it means we did not add anything to the product for the purpose of scent or fragrance. That any scent it has is sourced from the core ingredients. For example, our Bar Shampoo is available in 6 formulas. Of those 6, only 1 is scented. The remaining 5 formulas each carry a scent from the essential oils used for their properties in how they work with your skin and hair to achieve the desired results. Yes, they do have a scent but they are not scented.

Scents will come and go…

We plan to have anywhere from 6 to 10 in stock and ready to ship/sell scented items available at all times. We may rotate out scents options every year or every other year to allow us to bring new scents and retire less popular scents. In some instances, we are able to scent items to order for those less popular options so those that have a strong affinity for them will be able to buy them as long as we have means to make it. We hope to get to the point where we can offer scents on a seasonal basis, where one can stock up when it is available if they wish to have it year round. Or, enjoy them to stimulate the senses to match the season.

It is at our core to offer real choice in every manner possible. Choice in formulas, choice in scents and even choice in size. By having real choice you can find more that suits you and your needs best.

Memberships

UPDATE: 10% discounts are now available on all current Product Subscription.

Effective JULY 6, 2020 we are no longer offering a welcome kit to new subscribers. For this reason, we will be lowering the Membership Annual Fee to $15. Members will continue to receive all other benefits as listed below. We also will introduce samplers for select items, as well as surprise gifts with each order to continue the opportunity to try new fragrances and products from across both brands. Our goal is to keep this membership a genuine value for frequent shoppers.

Some may have already seen our current little survey on what they would find most valuable in such a plan. We know that a plan is not ideal for every customer. Some may not wish to shop with us enough to make it of value to them. We are crafting this for those that already or would wish to shop with us a few times per year.

Our objective is to create a rewarding experience for those who do shop with us regularly or wish to shop with us more often. A large hurdle is always SHIPPING RATES when shopping online. As a tiny business we do not get any discount on shipping fees because we are unable to supply the volume they require. Paid services exist to help businesses like ours, but at this time the savings is lost to the monthly fee we would have to pay. Until we generate enough shipping volume, we pay what everybody else pays. This makes it hard to offer free shipping without raising our product prices. The membership fee is a means to offset those costs upfront in the hope that members will use their membership to not only get back what they paid, but save going forward.

Another nugget of feedback we receive is around volume pricing, or discounts for return customers. First, ALL our customers are our BEST CUSTOMER. Regardless of the quantity of items or orders each may purchase. Personally we are not fans of special treatment and prices for select customers. We have to balance this with the fact that those who spend more with a business want to be appreciated for their loyalty. The easiest, most cost effective way for us to offer such is through a paid membership and give those a blanket discount that encourages them to shop more regularly.

All of this is what goes into any online retailer offering a paid membership, much like Amazon Prime.

MEMBERSHIP vs LOYALTY PROGRAMS

Loyalty programs give you “points” based on a per dollar basis. Most programs earn a penny for each dollar you spend. Your points would then be turned into cash-off discounts at a later date. With some programs, the points expire within a year making it nearly impossible to get any benefit out of them. A Membership works as a means to incentivize repeat business. If you pay a membership fee up front, you are more likely to return as a customer to recoup the expense. When the plan is priced right, the expense is quickly recovered with a small amount of transactions and as a loyal customer you will continue to save for the duration of your membership. The negative is for those who join but then don’t shop more than once or twice during the period.

The pricing for our plan is designed to pay for itself very quickly. Based on our repeat customer’s habits, members will see the most benefit after 3 orders. Our Welcome Kit is also a value added benefit as the retail value of included items will be more than the cost of the membership.

OUR PLAN at launch

We have very specific goals we wish to achieve with a membership plan: Reward repeat and high volume customers as well as offer a means to save money on those orders. Here is what we are planning to offer for the annual membership fee: (details below are subject to change over time, please see the Purchasable Item for exact details of what your benefits are at the time you buy).

  • FREE SHIPPING for all orders.
  • 10% Discount on all items we make! This will exclude subscriptions and clearance items as they are already discounted more than 10%.
  • No need to apply a code at checkout – you will see your membership price when browsing, as long as you are logged into your account.
  • A “WELCOME KIT” that will be filled with smaller versions of our most popular products to inspire interests in our full catalog – valued around $30 (at retail) and will ship with your first order as a member.
  • 5% Discount on select PRIMP & JOL accessory items.
  • Early Access to hot new items.
  • Membership exclusives to special scents or sizes of our regular products.*
  • Specially priced gift sets and collections.*

*planned, but no firm date as to when to expect these benefits

What you will not be able to do:

  • Share this plan. It will be associated with your account email address and you will be required to log into your account to order. Sensible gifting is perfectly acceptable, but please avoid shopping for all your friends and family.
  • Apply your membership in person. We do not have a brick & mortar store at this time. When we set up a pop-up, we may not have the means to validate your membership. There are also a bunch of different cost factors related to this as well. When we do have a fixed location we will certainly include functionality for memberships.
  • Monthly billing will not be available – this will be an annual membership to run for 12 months from the date of purchase. You will have an option to renew. Membership is paid in full at start of the plan for each year. If we see strong enough interest, we may introduce a monthly plan, but it would not be the same price.
  • “Double Dipping” – to protect our business we cannot permit the stacking of discounts. As a member you will get 10% off automatically on everything we make. If an item is on sale for 15% off, the risk is there with some items to become a loss for us to sell. We will simply make the discount not apply to sale items, so you can always get the lowest price.
  • Coupons may not work with your Membership. Each coupon has it’s own rules but most will not allow stacking to begin with. If a coupon works, even though we may say it will not work for Memberships, then YAY! You get to save more.
  • If we see a plan being abused with an abundance of orders being shipped to various addresses, we are likely to send notice that it is of concern and if we see the behavior continue we will terminate your membership. If you have friends that want to save, encourage them to join!

Will their be tiered memberships?

Not at launch. As we go forward, we will evaluate how it is being used and its overall effectiveness. If we see a demand for a lower or higher level membership, we will determine the best means to incorporate it and what the best pricing would be for all levels. Once we get some early adopters going, we will look into a 30 or 90 day trial membership level to help more people experience the benefits. As of now, we know that a trial membership will not include the Welcome Kit that we have planned today.

If you have any feedback or questions, please message us on Facebook

2019-2020 NPD Roadmap

Yes, the headline reads more like a business plan than an informational post. That is intentional as this is a more formal piece on where we are heading as we go into our busiest time of the year.

NPD = New Product Development. This will layout what our plans for new products that in the works for the upcoming 6 to 9 month period beginning July 2019.

BODY BUTTER & BATH BUTTER – available now

These have been in the works for the last year and have finally launched. The Body Butter was a bit premature as we had a huge “A-Ha!” moment. We have retooled the base formula of our Beard Butter into an amazing skin cream for superior moisturizing.

The Bath Butter was actually slow in development but we finally got around to actually producing it. This is a body cleansing cream with Himalayan salt for exfoliating and softening. This will be available in “flavors” that will be unique [for now] to this product line.

MEN’S UTILITY SOAP BAR – plan is for November 2019

We have been tossing around the idea for this product for some time, repeatedly pushing it off. The concept is a soap bar that is ideal for hair and skin. Intended to be launched with our Bar Shampoo, we held off as we wished to not overwhelm the market at the time. Many men like to keep it simple and have one product that does all their bath time cleaning. Where many of these bars that are already on the market do the duty with varying levels of mediocrity, we will get down to the skin and hair basics to create a product that has the right levels of what will work best for head, beard and skin. Using some of our newest ingredients that bring out the best in your skin in hair and pack them into a clean, organic soap bar. These bars will lather great, rinse away easily and come in our most popular J&L Pogonotrophics’ fragrances.

DEODORANT STICK – February 2020, maybe

Another project that has been in the works for some time. We have looked at numerous recipes and like everything else we do, we look into the core ingredients that will best suit the job of keeping BO at bay while not being greasy or irritate sensitive skin. We plan to bring 2 to 3 variants to market that will give options in performance and fragrance.

“JUNK OIL” CREAM – Fall 2019

It has been requested that we make a cream or balm version of our JUNK OIL. We have a name selected for this product that will be just as fun and attention grabbing as Junk Oil has been. The idea is to have a thick lotion like deodorizing item that is natural/organic, safe for the most intimate of areas, does not feel greasy and most of all, does the job of keeping you fresh “down there”.

FRAGRANCES & FLAVORS – FALL 2019

As part of our plan to always bring variety to our fragrance offerings we will be retiring a couple fragrances at the Holidays to make room for new scents. The plan is to rotate out some scents after 2 years. This year we will say farewell to TAROCCO and CITRUS GROVE. Tarocco will remain as a custom order scent for Beard Oils & Beard Butter. At this time we have ceased production of these 2 scents. LONDON may also be retired as well.

We are currently testing new scents to bring forward. Some are already out there in select products to test the public’s reaction. So far, ARUBA looks like it may be a winner for J&L Apothecary products, but we don’t see it being a great fit for Beard Care products.

Lip Balms will see TWISTED MINT and PINK GRAPEFRUIT come to an end. DREAMSICLE will launch this fall. CUCUMBER MINT is also on the horizon. Expect a couple more flavors to be added. We also plan to introduce new sets with exclusive flavors.

Solid Cologne has been very popular and we hope to expand this line with more fragrances from our current assortment as well as try new ones. Solid Cologne has been a means for us to test new ideas for fragrance. If we get plenty of positive feedback from a new cologne scent, we begin to share it with other lines.

“BUG REPELLENT SPRAY” – SPRING 2020

This is likely the product that we have been working on the longest. We intended to launch it this summer but we had too much on our plate and shelved it to be launched Spring 2020. This spray will be 100% natural, safe for you and your pets, and safe for most fabrics as well.

Recently we took a camping trip where we were able to field test our formula. It performed very well, keeping flies, moths, beetles and mosquitoes at bay. A simple spray over exposed areas and at the feet lasted for hours before reapplication was necessary. The blend of essential oils smell pleasant to you but offends the bugs enough to keep them away. The formula is light, water based and does not require shaking before each use.

PRIMP & JOL

This retail concept, as first introduced, is postponed indefinitely. Our Pop-Up this past Holiday season taught us a lot and has inspired us to re-tool this concept. Our focus will be to create a production facility that we can open to the public for shopping as well as demonstrations and group activities around personal care, grooming and self care. By doing this we feel we are capturing more of what “Jol” means as we create a fun environment to explore us and our products as well as yourself. Depending on how well we do going into this coming holiday season will determine how soon we can make this happen. If only we can flip a switch and make it happen today!

SUMMARY

Much of what is listed here are ideas that we have had since the launch of J&L Apothecary. We feel that once these products are completed and introduced we will then put our focus on improving the products we already offer, update packaging to be more environmentally friendly and challenge ourselves with expanding our customer base. 2020 may see us pull back from doing Chicago street festivals and focus on retail outlets that take less physical drain on us and presents our products in a better fashion. Festivals are fun; but they are a lot of work to prepare for as well as operate. The sun and heat are not ideal environments for our products, which have caused quality issues for some items. Fluctuations in weather affects how well we perform at these festivals and due to their costs to participate, we cannot risk rainy weekends that soak us and keep shoppers at home.

We hope you appreciate our roadmap and are excited for what we plan to bring to you. In some ways this is the fruition of our “Phase 2” as we plan for “Phase 3”.

Thank you, John & Larry – and the J&L Family

The package changed, the product improved.

Since we first introduced J&L Apothecary Brand back in 2017, we relied upon packaging materials we were already using for J&L Pogonotrophics. Partly because the first items were merely a new label applied to the same product we were already making. Other items, we were not all that sure how well they would be received upon hitting the market. And then, we were not sure how to best differentiate the brand yet ensure people knew it was an extension of who we already made ourselves out to be.

Customer feedback was an important factor in how we recreated J&L Apothecary’s look from the start. The biggest factor was the necessity to make it appeal to as many folks as possible by removing any gender profile. Through use, customers also told us what they liked and did not like about our bottles or jars used.

Most of our product photographs were done before we fully implemented all the packaging changes. Some packages saw a complete overhaul while others just had a color change. We are still in the process of revamping our presentation. Soon, we will work through all Cobalt packaging for the majority of products as we transition to white or clear bottles and jars. We are moving through all unique packaging at this time, which means some products may not match their photographs. Once we have completed more of this transition, we will have our photographer work on creating all new photos for all J&L Apothecary Brand products.

Another benefit has been the refinement of production methods and an increase in new ingredients in our raw materials cabinet. This has allowed us to tweak ingredients for some products to bring in better ingredients than what was being used previously. Our move to more Certified Organic Ingredients is also a factor. We rather provide a high quality organic ingredient over a less expensive non organic ingredient if how that change improves quality if there is a change at all.

These changes have not been limited to J&L Apothecary Brand. Our Beard Care line has seen upgrades as well. When we first acquired the “tottle” bottles for our lotions, it was a perfect fit for our After Shave Cream as well. And when we decided to make changes to our Beard Wash and introduce the All New Beard Shampoo and companion Beard Conditioner, the “tottle” bottle was an ideal package to help ensure users dispense the right amount, easily and with less mess. Unfortunately it migrated away from our “signature” blue bottles.

Due to supply and pricing issues we had to change our Original Beard Butter TM package to an amber jar with black lid. Nobody really noticed, but we were sad to see the blue with aluminum lids gone. Another change that is soon to come is our move from the aluminum caps for beard oils. We loved using metal as it was easily recycled as well as looked great with the blue bottles. Quality issues from our suppliers had led to us having to recycle near a third of the caps we were attempting to use. There were even cases where the caps were popping off the bottles due to temperature changes caused the caps to warp and loosen. This increase in scrap of packaging materials made the caps too costly to continue to use. Before the end of the year you wills start to see our beard oils transition to black plastic caps. We analyzed the concept of moving to droppers for our closure and felt it was still a messier mean to apply beard oil. Our reducer “shaker” insert will still be in place to ensure dosing without spilling, and less mess if you knock the bottle over.

Behind the scenes we are working on a new Original Beard Butter formula that will be vegan friendly while still performing as awesome as it already does. There may also be the addition of an all natural plant-based emulsifier to avert a repeat of our past performance issue. We pride ourselves of always providing a high quality product at a fair price, we will always work to make our products better in formula and packaging.