A statement in support of BLM

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

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

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

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

This needs to end now!

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19 Response (updated 5/16/2020)

We are expanding upon previous communications related to the impact and our reaction to COVID-19.

What we are doing to safeguard ourselves and you:

Since we are unable to use our drop-in production locales during this time. This requires us to make everything in house…my house. Any items that require a more highly sanitized work area will be lower in priority for us to make. This relates mostly to our SERUM HA, FACE WASH and TONERs (which are well in stock at this time).

All other production will take place in a sanitized area that is free of potential contaminants and as always, all tools, containers, work surfaces and materials will be disinfected. First using a chlorine disinfectant, then once dry, items will be wiped with a hydrogen peroxide solution to remove any residue and apply another level of disinfection.

Before shipping, we have always wiped clean all bottles and jars with the 90% alcohol solution. This has been to remove dust and particles that would settle within our storage area for finished goods. As the virus is unable to live in significant quantities past 3 days on any surface, what is inside the package is very likely safe to handle. But, be safe and wash your hands after touching any mail or packages arriving at your home. If possible, wear latex or nitrile gloves.

IMPACT TO INVENTORY:

Due to our packaging and ingredient suppliers dealing with a dramatic increases in demand for components we use, we expect to see tighter inventory levels and an increase in out-of-stock situations during this period. We will be managing our inventory levels for our website more tightly during this time. Through the upcoming weeks we are switching to producing inventory in even smaller batches or ‘to order’ as a means to better meet demand of the most popular items and permit flexibility of packaging. If there is a much preferred fragrance option showing that it is not available, please email us at support@pogonotrophics.com to see if we are able to produce the item for you.

UPDATE 5/16: We moved up our plans to change liquid soap packaging to stand-up pouches. Our initial plan was to introduce this Fall 2020. Due to limited availability of our current PET bottles, we feel that it makes sense to do this sooner. It will take some time for this transition to take place as the pouches will not arrive until this summer. Which is still much sooner than we can expect to have bottles available. In the meantime we will sell through all current inventory of produced inventory. Current unfilled bottles will be sold separately empty, as the pouches will be a great refill to any bottle. Look for these items to trickle in over the coming weeks.

Also, we have remaining inventory of some older bottle styles that we will use for lotions until we can source an alternative package or are able to acquire appropriate bottles. Both of these measures will mean that the pictures may not match the product you receive. The volume listed will remain the same, along with pricing.

PRICING STABILIZED:

We are personally disgusted by those who are working hard to take advantage of this very challenging situation by drastically increasing prices on essential items. It has been our policy from our first day of business to always strive to offer our products at the best possible price. This does leave us with tighter profits due to our size and buying power; yet we feel it would heavily contradict our values if we were to raise our prices without genuine necessity.

If you see any price increases during this time, it will truly be related to a substantial increase in the cost of materials. One of our key suppliers has dramatically increased their prices to where they are no longer a wholesale supplier and no longer a reliable option to buy from. This means we must find other suppliers for our materials which can lead to a higher price paid by us. It is important to ensure we maintain the same level of quality in raw goods (ingredients) that we are currently using.

UPDATE 5/16: We have lowered the price of our 360ml SHOWER WASH to $13.00, a $2 savings. Subscriptions will be $12/unit, plus $1 for the first unit. When the pouch package becomes available, the item will be 400ml and sell for the same price of $13.00.

IMPACT TO PRODUCTION:

During this time, we will place a higher priority on bar/solid soaps. As we sell out of current bar soap formulas, we will be able to start introducing our new Hemp Oil based soap bars. They will be available in many of the same fragrances currently presented. Our Shea Butter Soaps will continue as is, we may add more fragrances to this line as well. As a whole, the CRYSTAL soaps are being discontinued.

Outside of what has been noted above, there will likely be Out of Stock [OOS] situations for select items. Unless explictly noted, they are not discontinued and will be back in stock as soon as we are able to produce them. Sometimes this is merely hours and no more than a couple days. Please track us on Facebook to be informed on any long term OOS items.

A Personal Note:

This is a very challenging time for many lower wage earners who are finding themselves without work due to this virus and uncertainty that the Federal government will find a means to help. We are feeling the impact here as well. This is my sole source of income. As a tiny business, I am essentially the only employee. Bar far this is not a well paying job but it has many other rewards. When in a time of uncertainty, businesses like this feel the hit harder than other businesses, and they feel it sooner. We hope that our loyal followers will consider us during this time when stocking up on their soap and other personal care item needs. Your dollar spent with us goes immediately into our community to support other small local businesses – such as grocery stores, restaurants and other shops where we do our daily business. Shopping from us, helps other businesses like us as well. When we get through this, and we will, I know we all will be stronger.

I thank you all very much for your understanding and consideration. Please continue to be well and help all of us get through this time.

John C Dodge

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.

Subscription items are now available for discounts with Primp+Jol Memberships

Primp+Jol Members: your 10% Product Discount will now apply to Subscription Items. We wanted to make these more attractive to Club Members, and the best way to achieve that is to allow them to bundle on a little savings and get Free Shipping during the duration of the membership. Subscriptions offer you an easy way […]
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Changes to payment options

PayPal has long been a trusted gateway for many buyers and sellers since the earliest days of eCommerce. At that time, setting up a credit/debit card system for a website was costly and difficult to integrate with small business websites. It was seen as trustworthy, with numerous protections for those on both sides of a transaction.

In recent years, many options have become available that are as secure or more so, integrates seamlessly into modern websites and are competitive fee structures. Today we offer 2 channels for you to pay for your order: Stripe and PayPal. Stripe was founded to be a simple to use robust payment gateway for all sizes of eCommerce businesses. They use the latest in technology to protect your identity and credit; along with superior fraud protection that exceeds US and International guidelines.

We have used Stripe (follow link to get a snapshot of the company) since we launched our website. For us, on the back end, they are fast and reliable. We chose Stripe because of all the benefits mentioned above, as well as they were one of a very few payment gateways that would allow use of credit cards from outside the USA. This would permit us to accept orders from Europe and Canada just as easily as any within the US. With Stripe, we could even take BitCoin as a payment method if we choose.

PayPal has continued to grow and acquire other businesses to reach the level that Stripe holds. But, their policies and fee structure is no longer a benefit for us. In fact, their policies put us at risk of fraud through abuse of questionable loss claims. We are given no tangible protection when this happens. Along with other issue that affect our bottom line and efficiency of processing transactions, we feel that PayPal is a redundant payment option and does not offer the security for you that you deserve, as well as for us. It is also used in less than 10% of our transactions.

Effective March, 20, 2020 we will turn off the PayPal payment gateway.

We understand that many feel more secure using PayPal. By using Stripe you are getting even more protections from identity theft and fraudulent account activity. Once we remove PayPal, we hope to turn on Apple Pay and Google Pay as another way for you to enter your payment information with added security. Such payment methods only adds to the ways we can process your payment and does not require an additional payment gateway.

For those that prefer PayPal, do rest assured that we take your protection seriously. Those that work here never see any part of your credit card information, not even the last 4 digits. Stripe handles all that and in full accordance of US banking laws. Once they validate the legitimacy of your payment, we will receive your order with an attached approval code. All your credit protections that your bank offers are enforced.

6 Years of Epic

Today marks our 6th Anniversary and entering the game maker 7th year of doing business. This is another milestone for us as we continue to grow and evolve yet still hold tight to our guiding principles. Early on, we noted that we are not merely using the “think outside the box” cliche; but building an entirely new box that can expand and morph into any shape necessary. In every corner we are seeing dramatic changes to how we live, communicate and work; the landscape has changed and will continue to change. It is important to us take what we have learned to use as tools for existing today and prepare ourselves as best as we can for tomorrow.

Six years is not a long time at all when you sit to think about it. In the last 6 years we carved out a name for ourselves as we built our reputation. During these 6 years we saw a lot of similar brands making much of the same products come on big and disappear without a trace. It was important for us to not make a big splash when we entered the market; it could easily be why we are still here. Our mission now is to stand proud of what we have accomplished and spread the word more openly; to start making a splash.

Truly, we do know why we are still here. We are here because of you and your continued support. You have told us what you like and what you don’t like; with your dollars and with your voice. You also told us what you want to see from us and we listened. What you asked of us is behind most of the new products we have introduced. You are a huge driving force for us, and that is how it should be.

As we have said, we are not a lifestyle brand. We are all about making a product that is better than the average and sell it at a lower price. We want you to feel special every day, and that is what is behind our BE YOU : BE EPIC motto. While others push a mystique as a goal for you to achieve, we feel that you are amazing as you are and deserve to feel that every day. Like us, as a business, there is always room for improvement and growth, but that should never lessen who we are right now.

We expect to be around for more years to come with your engagement and support. You are like our family. Our goal is to bring even more people into our family. Along with that, we hope to continue to innovate and develop new and useful products as we grow.

Thank you very much,
John C Dodge
Founder & Proprietor

2020: Year in Preview

The first few months of any year is a time to regroup, refocus and energize to take on all the new challenges that a new year brings. Typically, these are the slowest months of the year in regards to sales and productivity; but not for planning and strategy building. We have a lot of aspirations for this year, as well as some solid goals that we must meet.

This year we are changing a few things in regards to how we promote ourselves. Our newsletters will become monthly and will operate like a newsletter. Much of what each email will contain will be pulled from our blog as well as unique information to be shared first in the newsletter. There will then by a few special emails that will strongly feature products and services. These will be tied to busier times of the year.

We also plan to become more aggressive with our social media presence. This has been something we have been inconsistent with since the beginning. Although J&L is often referenced as a “we”, in reality it is only one person juggling the majority of activities. After production, administrative and operational tasks, there is little time made available for social media posts. Now that I have refined some processes there will be more time for mapping our on-line presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even here on our blog.

Changes to our Festival Participation

Many of our most loyal customer came to us from meeting us at area Festivals and Pop-Ups over the years. It had been or focus to use such events as a means to not only make money, but to be a marketing tool. Having a physical presence where you can meet people face to face helps build a reputation and trust. With the changes in how city street festivals are managed and promoted, we are see a decline in sales from these events in direct correlation to the attendance numbers. This specifically boils down to “bang for the buck”. If we don’t make enough money being there, we are not going to come back.

Although these festivals are well attended overall, most of the attraction is around food, drink and entertainment. Merchants are not valued by the promoters and organizers in conjunction with fewer attendees coming to shop the merchants and see the artists. For these reasons, we are not doing anywhere as many festivals as we have in the past. In fact, we will only plan to take part in Andersonville Midsommarfest, Jarvis Square Music & Arts Fest and possibly Andersonville Arts Week.

Along with our new position on festival appearances, we will no longer take part in farmer’s markets, small bazaars and socials. Most of these are too tiny to drive traffic, are too narrow in appeal while providing less space for presentation. Another issue with such events are the hours of operation are very brief, sometimes as little as 4 hours on one day.

Factory Store Concept

The drawbacks we experienced this year greatly affected our plans for 2019. Our hopes were to have a dedicated space to not only sell our products, but to make them. It was important that we performed well enough in the scheduled events to have the funds to make this happen. This was a major setback for us, but not a defeat. We are going back to our whiteboard and rethink this plan for this year.

Place the Spotlight on Online Sales

For 2020 we will put more energy behind those areas where we are experiencing significant growth. Our online sales grew tremendously in 2019. This was done with zero advertising! This year we plan to bring back an advertising budget and place a more concentrated effort into our messages – micro and macro. From images to written content, we will strive to build a cohesive message that captures our values and our mission while genuinely representing our brands.

A New Business Plan to Guide Us

During these quieter months, we will be drafting a new business plan. Our initial business plan drove us to where we are today, but it is no longer relevant to where we need to go next. We have a strong proof of concept and a solid history to pull from in creating our driving vision for the coming years.

An essential focus will be financial stability and a restructure of any debt. As we have been a genuine bootstrap business, relying on personal funds and credit to build J&L, we have incurred a realistically small debt that carries higher interest rates than other forms of credit. By moving that debt to a new loan with a much lower interest rate, we will free up cash for all the things we wish to do this year. Our current debt is all in revolving credit, a micro loan will allow smaller payments with a solid pay off timeline, a much smarter way to handle it.

We are also opening ourselves up to the idea of a partnership or single investor situation. Bringing in a fresh voice that can also help drive this bus would be very beneficial if the terms are right. It will be imperative that anyone that wishes to become part of our family must like us as we are yet can further our growth and fine tune what we have already. Our customers pretty much like us as we are, we do not wish to alienate them as they have been a driving force for us all along.

At this point in our journey we are not in a critical or dire situation. Our needs at this point are purely to make a substantial jump in our growth. We feel this is a wise move to make at this moment and it can open us up for more rapid growth. We are not looking to dominate, we are merely seeking a higher level of stability. There are a lot of plans we have around new products and improvements for current products that we wish to bring to the marketplace. Once we have achieved those goals, we can then focus solely on improving other areas of our operations as we maintain our catalog of goods. Although, we know that our offerings must be flexible to satisfy changes in tastes and trends.

Products and Product Changes on the Horizon

We have mentioned some of these before with a few of them having been planned for 2019.

First off is Natural Deodorant. This has been heavily requested and something that makes sense for us to get into. We don’t plan to go big, just a couple sensible options.

We had talked about Toothpaste in the past. While it is still being worked on, it is not a huge priority for us.

Liquid Shampoos and Conditioners will return this spring. Production has already started and we have items ready to sell, but we are waiting for “creative” department to do some photos so we can get them out there for sale. We have dropped the plan for solid conditioner as it is not mass production friendly. There will be changes to our Shampoo Bar line with the dropping AMP, reformulating QUENCH as well as SHOCK. We are also considering doing a combo bar or FIXER/BALANCE to address itchy/oily scalp.

Sustainability has always been important to us, but due to our size it has been a very expensive component. This year is where we plan to move away from as much plastic as possible, or at least minimize the amount. This is leading to our revamped concept with liquid soaps. This spring we are going to start using a pouch format for liquid soaps that can re-fill any style of liquid soap dispenser or bottle. This will allow us to keep the price lower as well as reduce the total weight of plastic we are currently using.

Solid Cologne/Fragrance has been immensely popular for us. We are planning to put more energy behind this line with new unique fragrances and new “air tight” packaging. Formulas will see a boost in fragrance strength as feedback has been that they are a tad light.

We will be bringing back Salt Scrubs. This was a line that was badly affected by doing festivals as the heat was causing the sugar to melt. We are removing sugar, and going back to just salt. Scrubs will remain a small-run product that will see very tight inventory levels. Essentially, they will be made to order.

We do have plans to introduce new scents as we are retiring a couple. Tarocco and Citrus Grove have ceased production. Remaining inventory is currently clearance priced. Absinthe & Leather are moving to Expanded Assortment – only available as scented to order. Lakeside and Seaside will be expanded into Beard Care and in more Apothecary items. They were well received as Solid Colognes last year. Also popular as a cologne, Aruba will be introduced as our official new scent of 2020. Expect to see this in all Beard Oil formulas, Original Beard Butter, Shower Wash and Bar Soap.

Expect Expanded Assortment to come to Shower Wash and Body Mist. With other planned changes in production, we intend to make it easier to scent a product on demand wherever possible. A system we are developing will make it possible to maintain an inventory of unscented items with a scent blend “dose” that we can mix-in just before shipping. This is part of our desire to offer more options while keeping prices lower.

In Closing

We are about to reach the end of our 6th year. Through these years we have seen quite a few similar businesses come and go. We cannot express how thankful we are that we are still here and are in a position to consider further growth. What was meant to be a tiny little hobby for myself as grown into a very unique brand that is changing how we all look at personal care. We stand firm that there is absolutely NO REASON to pay so much for premium quality natural products. It boggles my mind to see a shampoo that costs $50 (11 fl oz) and is no better in performance than anything we have every made. Yet there are still beard oils out there that charge $40/ounce for glycerin with aloe and a few drops of specialty oils. This past year I was reminded why what I do matters to so many people. I hope this year, that with your support, we are able to reach our modest goals. You got us here, and we hope to remain a force in the personal care industry. When we have big name brands “borrow” from us, and are even beating us with their forgeries, we will keep making our mark!

A heartfelt thank you to all of you,
John C Dodge
Founder, J&L Pogonotrophics LLC

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!

Thanksgiving and Holiday Plans

We feel it is important to communicate as much of our holiday plans as we can to help you plan your shopping or know what to expect. Please monitor this post for any new information or changes to current offerings.

SALES & PROMOTIONS

Our current Beard Care and Lotion promotion will end on November 23rd. This will be the absolute lowest price on our Beard Oils you will see for months to come!

On Wednesday November 27th, we will begin our THANKSGIVING WEEKEND promotions. There will be select items on sale from across all our entire catalog. It will also be the beginning of our FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $25. Due to the expense involved, there will be an order premium placed upon SHOWER WASH and PET SHAMPOO due to the higher weight of the items. This premium is a $1.00 price increase on each unit.

PRIMP & JOL CLUB: we will introduce a 3 month TRIAL membership to allow folks to see the benefits of this savings plan. This special limited membership will have all the same savings built in, but you will get a smaller welcome gift. This will launch in December and will be available until January 4th.

SHIPPING

We will continue to ship all domestic (USA) orders via USPS. This offers more of a value, and more package security, than any other means available to us. Expedited Shipping will not be an option.

These are important deadlines for Christmas Shipping

  • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019 – last day for shipping to ensure arrival before Christmas. Orders must be received by 10:00am CST
  • MONDAY, DECEMBER 23 – the last day we will ship any orders until DECEMBER 27

HOURS OF BUSINESS

Are order processing will be done Monday through Friday 9am to 4pm, Saturday 9am to 11am. Daily cutoff for orders to be shipped that day is 10:00am Monday through Saturday. No orders will be processed after 11am Saturday or all day Sunday. Customer Service will monitor email and Facebook messenger Monday through Thursday 8am to 8pm, Friday and Saturday 8am to 5pm. On days we are closed, there will be no activity in our offices. These dates and times are effective November 25, 2019 to December 19, 2019.

  • WEDNESDAY NOV. 27 – close at 2pm
  • THANKSGIVING DAY – closed
  • CHRISTMAS EVE – closed
  • CHRISTMAS DAY – closed
  • BOXING DAY – closed
  • NEW YEARS EVE – closed
  • NEW YEARS DAY – closed

SERVICES

We are offering GIFT WRAPPING as a service this year. We will have 1 color option of a solid red wrapping. Wrapping will include wrap, gift tag (with a brief note). An individual item is only 50 cents, 35 cents each for multiple items when wrapped together. You can either select to have each item wrapped separately, all together in one box or a mix of both. Ensure you select the correct options when selecting each item.

Examples of our gift wrapping style along with our hugely popular Junk Oil
Gift Wrap Style

Gift orders: If you wish to have an item sent as a gift to another address, please ensure accuracy of the SHIP TO address. Please note in the ORDER COMMENTS box any extra details, like NO PACKING SLIP or delivery instructions for carrier.

If you wish to have multiple orders go to more than one location, please contact us so we can assist this process. We can offer the best possible means to accommodate your wishes and do so with a single payment transaction. If you do place the orders through our website, please do a separate order for each SHIP TO address. We will not be able split orders for shipping.

Gift Credit (Gift Cards) We have varying denominations or create your own value for Gift Credit. Gift Credit works by assigning a credit value to an account that the recipient can use anyway they wish. Don’t worry if the person you are gifting to does not have an account. All you need to do is provide a valid email address for the recipient and they will receive instructions on how to access their gift. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us.

RETAIL – POP-UPS

We do not have a POP-UP store this holiday season. If this changes anytime soon, we will certainly share the news. The situation that permitted us to have such a shop last year is not available to us.

There will be a one day appearance in JARVIS SQUARE neighborhood on DECEMBER 7th. Details will be on FACEBOOK for time and exact location (when available). We will only have a limited amount of space, so we will focus on our most popular items for this appearance.

We will work with our current resellers in Chicago to make sure they are well stocked on the items they offer. Currently we do not have a retailer that carries J&L Apothecary products. We are open to the idea of having retailers have us visit for a day or two to operate as a “trunk show”. Please contact us if you have any questions.


Some fine print: Due to product availability we may be forced to change promotions and sale items. It is important to us to not disappoint you by not being able to ship a product we presented as being available. We also reserve the right to change terms listed here based upon typos and errors – although we try to proofread this as much as possible. We do not offer rainchecks If there is an item you really wish to purchase and it shows as being unavailable, contact us and we may be able to provide an alternative or be able to honor the price and ship later if we are able to produce a unit within 48 hours.