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

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!

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.

What’s happening in August

July was a very busy month around here. We began work on our Subscription service as well as completed development of our new Shampoo Bars which are coming very soon to our store. There has been a lot of work planning and pulling together details for Primp & Jol and we hope to have exciting news to share on that in a week or so. Our long term pop-up for testing will be able to launch once we get all the paperwork together and get our business license approved. To prepare for that, we have been bulking up on supplies and making as much product as we can.

This July was also our busiest July ever for online sales. We like to think it is because of our improved website combined with increases exposure. Our “new customer” percentage grew as well!

Work is also beginning on securing our intellectual property. We plan to contact any maker that has been making or selling a product that they call “beard butter”. We may not be able to claim the formula, but we can certainly make the claim to the name. It is a tough stance that we have to take but it is necessary to ensure a fair marketplace. Our hopes our that we can come to an agreement with these makers to allow them to use the name as long as we are compensated for the use. I am sure anyone out there that created something unique and different would feel the same way we do here at J&L.

Our next Pop-Up at a festival is coming August 11 – 12 at Retro on Roscoe. We had a good time last year and felt we would give it a go again. Classic cars, classic music and lots of good food – plus us!

Keep your eye on our Facebook or the online store for when the Shampoo Bars become available. We will post a story soon as well so you can learn all the details about what you would want a bar shampoo.

Thank you,
John

New Products in the Works: Shampoo Bars, Natural Deodorant

We have been toying with the idea of making a couple items for quite a long time and until recently felt it was beyond what people are interested in at the time. Recently personal care trends have caught up with our ideas and we will explore bringing these products to market. The products are Shampoo Bars and Solid Deodorants. We have had an increase of interest expressed around these products which is leading to us add them to our assortment.

Shampoo was strictly made in a bar form until the 1940s when liquid soaps became more available. The current resurgence in popularity of solid shampoo comes from a growing demand for more natural products combined with reducing the reliance upon plastic bottles. One bar of shampoo can replace 3 bottles of liquid shampoo. As ingredients go, hard soaps rely upon natural oils and butters over synthesized ingredients to achieve great hair and scalp. Today we can combine the best of both worlds by adding environment and body safe additives to natural oil hard soaps to ensure a rich lather, solid conditioning and voluminous body.

We are working on a base formula that can then be adapted to target your hair and scalp needs from dry to oily. We will rely upon the power of essentials oils to narrow in and tackle each need as well as offer a pleasant aroma. Our mission is to have these available as we enter Autumn.

Natural Deodorant is a little trickier to get people to try. Many people have relied upon antiperspirants for many years and have not noticed why these are not an ideal product to manage and prevent body odor. Where a deodorant uses mainly alcohol bases and perfumes to cover your scent, antiperspirants rely upon a crude function of putting tiny solids into your pores to act as a dam to block sweat. Science has proven that all this does is force your body to make more sweat to “unclog” the pores. The rest of the work an antiperspirants does is identical to that of a deodorant – cover of scent with perfume and kill bacterial with alcohol.

Why is this process not so ideal? The answer is simple, clogging your pores is counter productive if your body is only going to fight harder to sweat. Alcohol will dry and irritate your skin; and the perfumes are often doing the same with no other added benefit. A natural deodorant relies upon the properties of the ingredients that are naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal while they also offer great scents and other skin benefits. While they may not stop the sweat they will lead to less sweat being produced and allowing you to manage your perspiration better in other means. Doing an under arm detox will help you transition to natural deodorants. We will share the simple process later, when we launch our natural deodorant.

We will be hard at work developing these items and rely upon proven science and recipes to begin our testing and then detail them to meet our expectations. As like all of our products, they will be more affordable natural alternatives to major brands as well as other specialty makers as part of our mission to help every body be epic.

 

Summer is nearly upon us

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

John

And we’re live…

Welcome!

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

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

Sincerely,

John

Getting Closer

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

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

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

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

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