Head Office Communique – September 24, 2020

This should be a brief one:

B2G1 Offer is extended until Halloween. Yup, the buy 2 beard care products get a Beard Oil free is good until October 31, 2020.

New Products Coming

Early work has begun on new products. First up, natural stick deodorant. This has been on the back burner for the last couple years as we have been waiting for the right time. With our current refocus to bath & body basics for J+L Apothecary, the time is right to start development on this often requested product. We will have one or two options based on a base that will be great for even the most sensitive skin. The focus is not to offer up our “scents” as the function of the deodorant. We will take the same approach we did with J&L Pogonotrophics’ Junk Oil, and focus on maintaining freshness over layering in more scents.

Also in the works is something outside our refocus, but is often requested and suits our Primp + Jol concept. That is scented candles. Not a bath & body basic, but something that can add your favorite fragrances from our long list of scents to any room in your house. We have said in the past that we are not a “candle maker”, and that will hold true. Yes, we may make candles, but they will be considered an accessory type item. If they become our biggest seller, maybe then we will rethink this position.

We are also bringing our Clay Mask System to an end. The current inventory is being pulled to be reworked into something new. Our current inventory of Solid Cologne is also being removed as we rework this line. We will use our remaining inventory as scent samples for those remaining fragrances that we will give out free with some orders. We hope to reintroduce Solid Cologne before the holidays in a new shape, new size and some new scents. We are elevating this product to fully represent the stature of what cologne is for many folks. The listings for these items are being removed very soon.

Corrupted Product Data Issue

Recently we had an issue with corrupted product listings for a couple very specific items. We are not sure as to what caused the problem, but we were able to correct it as quickly as possible. Although we do not know the specific cause, it is likely linked to module updates to our eCommerce system. There were many updates the day prior to discovery of the corruption, and each of those modules connect to and rely upon our product catalog data. During these updates, our data backup was refreshed. This means that the data corruption occurred before the backup or was caused by the backup itself. Do rest assured, this had absolutely no impact on any customer data or personal identity information.

Gift Wrapping will Return November 1!

Head Office Communique – September 12, 2020

We are gearing up for colder weather and the Holiday Season, despite it only being the start of September. There are a few things to expect and a couple things to not expect from us this season.

WINTER & HOLIDAY PLANS

Our gift wrapping will return, and we hope to start that off in early November. Also expect some great sales with a weekly focus as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Much of what we do will depend on the current climate at the time we start making announcements. The state of affairs right now are a bit volatile and we must be mindful of the impact to everyone.

We have not decided upon a “Holiday” scent for this year. For Fall we suggest our HAVANA scent, which is coming to our new SHOWER GEL. Its notes of vanilla and brown sugar along with the earthy tones is a perfect Autumnal fragrance. Our plan in 2021 is to start having “Seasonal Scents” that will reflect the nature of a season and permits us to offer more options spread throughout the year. Producing them for only their peak season and then letting them sell out before the next season.

CONCEPT: ORDER PICK-UP by APPOINTMENT (LOCALS ONLY)

In the past we had an arrangement with a small boutique in our neighborhood that carried our products and was willing to accommodate the added traffic of our local online customers picking up their orders within their store. As time moved on, they became more focused on other categories of their business and were unable to accommodate our products, and our customers.

This was a setback for us as we had a lot of local customers that loved the ease and the savings of picking up orders over having them shipped. We have been working diligently to attempt to return this service option. We prefer to have a reliable store that maintains regular business hours that would allow more flexibility, but by picking up at our home office may have to suffice until then. As this is our actual “home” we must be mindful of the impact to our privacy as well as our neighbors. If we offer pick-ups there has to be a strict policy of when and how, with timed appointments that would be limited to certain days of the week and hours of the day. Any Pick-Ups will be literally a “CURBSIDE PICK UP” – you park on the corner, we run it out to you. We know this is not typical, but it is the best we can attempt for now.

Here is how a pick-up order process could function:

  • Your place and pay for your order online, customer receives confirmation receipt – this only indicates the order was paid for and sent to us to fulfill, not that it is ready for pick up.
  • We pick and prepare the order the next business day (Monday through Friday). Note, custom items may require an additional day to prepare.
  • Once an order is fully ready, we will contact you to confirm a pick up date and time. We will present options of 30 minute windows for you to select one.
  • There will no Pick-Ups after 12:00pm on Saturday, none on Sunday. The options will be limited to afternoons and early evenings and dependent upon what we have available.
  • When you confirm the appointment, we will ask you to provide a description of your vehicle (make, model, color). We will reply with detail instructions of where to park, how to inform us you have arrived.
  • Once you arrive, a quick text sent to us will prompt us to run your product down to you.

We are still fine tuning this plan, but so far this is how we have handled the case-by-case situations in the past. We are looking for an appointment scheduling add-in for our online store to make this simple.

Another option may be delivery for those who are VERY close to us. IF (just a thought at this point) we offer such, it will be a routed delivery system and done only once or twice per week in a limited area. Again, IF we were to do this.

PRICING SYSTEM

A new pricing system is trickling into our store. You may have noticed the $x.x9 prices. Although many feel this is a means to make a higher price seem lower, we don’t think that way. It essentially boils down to us making it easier to match us up to others as well as a means for us to identify “regular”, “sale” and “clearance” pricing. This is a common practice of retailers. As we have grown, we have seen the need arise for such details.

Initially we shied away from such a format as we were selling in person through festivals. A simple “no cents” price point allowed us to make our prices clearer when sitting on a shelf with a sign. If we return to doing such, we will just round our pricing for such situations. Until then, we can play along with everyone else. For the majority of our products, the prices dropped by a penny.

We continually will audit our prices to ensure that products remain a true value while still be competitive and profitable. As are replenishing inventory of raw goods, we are seeing steep increases in shipping costs as well as pricing of ingredients that are in high demand. This will translate to price increases for affected items. It is a situation we wish we did not have to be in.

CLEARANCE PRODUCTS

Along with this is the introduction of a CLEARANCE category for our online store. Prices will generally end in $x.69 or $x.29, making it clear they are clearance. Clearance will be a means for us to promote and highlight items we wish to move through to make room for new products. Sometimes it may simply be to lower inventory of certain selections as we may have over produced to demand. With the transitioning of our brands began this summer, it also means that older packaging and labels will be sold through to create a better presence for new packaging and labels. The products are still of quality and will perform as expected. All clearance sales are final, there will be no returns or refunds supported.

If there is ever an “OOPS” product, we will be sure to call that out so you are aware that it is not a “typical example” of the actual product we were making. The reality is, working with natural products there are times that the chemistry doesn’t work as expected. In the past, such products were given away to friends and family but we see the viability of making them available for sale to all.

Clearance items will not be discounted any further through sales or coupons unless it is specifically called out. This being new to our store, we will see how we can make it most effective and a value.


Inside the office we have been having a talk about how our competitors in the beard care market advertise and the micro messages that are inherent in the majority of Beard Oil online advertisements. We will share some of our takeaways from this conversation in an upcoming Blog post.

Head Office Communique – August 11, 2020

not top secret
Not Top Secret Communique

Greetings all. There is a lot going on behind the scenes here as we transition into a new way of doing business stimulated by our current environment. Losing out on festivals shook a lot of things up for us. On one hand, we didn’t have the supplies to even begin to make a festival worthwhile; on the other hand it gave us time to focus on our business and see what needed to change to make us better. Having time to think and plan ahead is rare for us… or me actually. Some of what is happening has been dripping out to Facebook and on the Blog. As I started to tap out a simple message on a couple new things, the brain started telling me it makes sense to turn this into a general news and information post. Then that thought rolled into what would I call a regular sharing of such news and information.

We don’t have much that sounds catchy and makes sense to work with based upon what we do and all. I decided to go pseudo-official sounding with a name for this. Don’t hold me to it, but I would like to make these “Communique” posts monthly or more frequently. Lots to share, so lets get to it:

Late Summer Sales & Offers

In a drive to bring more awareness to our top quality Beard Care line, we will be offering our first ever Buy 2 get 1 Free sale. This is exciting for us as it makes it easier for new customers to try our highly rated beard care products. Although we are still operating under the specter of COVID-19, Self-Care through Personal Care is still important. Those that grow and maintain a beard still want to look good and feel good. Once you add 2 qualifying products to your cart (any mix of 30ml Beard Oil and Butter), you will be prompted to select your FREE item. Clicking that link will take you to a page where you can select a 30ml Beard Oil of any formula or scent.

We are not leaving our J+L Apothecary. There will be a similar deal on our Clay Mask Mixes. The offer will be Buy 2 Clay Mixes and get a Mix-ins Bundle Free. This bundle will include: 60ml Argan +Jojoba Oil blend, 60ml Glycerin + Aloe Blend and a 15ml Aromatherapy Oil – individually a $24 value. Similar to the Beard Care offer, once you add your Clay Mask Powders to the cart, you will be prompted to select the 15ml Aromatherapy option for your Free Bundle.

Both of these sales will kick off at the end of August and will last through September. Keep a watch on Facebook for the announcement.

Product Changes and Updates

Our Soap Bar Clearance will continue until all current inventory is gone. We will start to introduce our Shea +Oatmeal Soap Bars in more fragrances as these clearance bars sell through. With this launch, we are minimizing colorants which we have used in the past. The concept being, we wish to focus on the functionality and less about making it colorful or “pretty”. Color will still be used so we all can easily distinguish the scents, but not an important aesthetic.

By the end of August, you will be able to start ordering our new Shower Gel in a 360ml stand-up pouch. This is the same exact formula as our Shower Wash but named differently to call out the packaging difference as we bring the Shower Wash bottle to an end. We will not clearance the Shower Wash as there is little room for discounts as well as it having a longer shelf life. We may offer a special promo deal later to help move through the inventory. The new SHOWER GEL will launch with scents that are out of stock and new scents we wish to offer. Those with SHOWER WASH subscriptions will receive SHOWER GEL in the same scent they have selected for their subscription. Once bottles become more available from suppliers, we will offer empty bottle & pump combos where you can use the SHOWER GEL as a refill if you wish.

All SHAMPOOS and CONDITIONERS will start to be packaged in the new pouches as well. This will remain named the same and our listings will be updated to reflect the size and package changes. These too can function as a refill if you wish.

Changes to Primp+Jol Club

We launched our loyalty/reward membership club a year ago. Since then, we have learned more about what you are looking for in such a program. Those that joined have expressed their appreciation of the club, but others are a little scared off by the pricing. Although the cost offsets a portion of the expenses on our end, it can seem as if we are making them pay for their free stuff upfront – making it not free at all.

Our current members will see that their discounts will apply to more items, as we are adding sale items to the list of what the 10% discount applies to. For new members we will offer 3 ways to take part, each with their own structure. The current version of Primp+Jol Club will become Primp+Jol Club Full. The annual fee will drop to 21.99, or you can now opt for the Full Quarterly membership that will be billed at $5.69 every 90 days. Both of these will include a 10% discount on all products we make, including subscriptions and sale items, 5% off the items we do not make; and will receive Free Shipping on every order.

We are also adding Primp+Jol Club Basic. This introductory tier will be FREE to anyone who joins. To join, you do need to “buy” it for $0.00. This membership tier will offer 5% discount on all items we make, 2.5% off those items we do not make. Members will still pay for shipping.

The “Welcome Gift” is being replaced with members receiving FREE SAMPLES with every order they place. Each month we will pick a new “surprise” sample that we will pack with every P+J Club order when we ship it. The Free Samples will not ship on their own nor can be ordered, it will be an automatic thing we do on our end every time you do order from us. Why this change? Honestly, the Welcome Gifts were expensive to ship. Combined with the cost of the product it was no longer a smart benefit to offer in the manner we chose. By dropping an extra item with each order allows us to be more flexible with what we present to each of you and we can make it more seasonal when it makes sense. All tiers will qualify for the FREE SAMPLES and we hope they inspire to try other products we offer. These Free Samples are a Members Only offering!

Shipping Rates

As a very small business, we do not get the huge discounts major carriers like UPS and FedEx offer to shippers. That is one of the reasons why we use USPS, along with the fact your order is far more likely to make its way into your mailbox and not under a bush or thrown over a fence. Unfortunately all possible carriers we can use are getting ever more expensive and the associated costs are increasing. And, none are perfect every time but USPS is far more reliable.

Our current shipping rates are: $4 for the smallest and lightest of orders, $6 for the majority, $8 for the heavier items. Each of these are below what we pay. In fact, the lowest we pay is $7.40 for anything under 32 ounces going to most addresses. We attempt to make up the difference by applying a percentage of our shipping costs into each product we sell.

At this moment we are stuck in a situation where we either need to raise prices of our products or raise shipping fees. If we raise the fees, there is a risk of increasing abandoned carts caused by the sticker shock of the added shipping charge. For some items, if we build in a higher percentage of its shipping costs we risk losing sales as the perception of the price to value is not justified. It is a tricky situation that involves a lot of nuances to ensure that the total order costs falls in line with the perception of the total value of what is purchased.

With the loss of in-person sales this summer due to COVID-19, we lost the padding such revenue gave us despite the costs of providing the in-person capabilities. That means the percentage of our revenue going to shipping fees in relation to total sales has greatly increased. As we shift to being more online than in person, we need to adjust our pricing and fees accordingly.

For the foreseeable future we will need to make FREE SHIPPING more of a premium service. The threshold will be move to $69.00. Then numerous items will see a price adjustment based upon its share of the shipping expenses in relation to its weight and overall unit sales.

The current marketplace is seeing substantial price increases for everything we buy. We will do our absolute best to keep our pricing fair and competitive. In the 7+ years we have been in business, our prices have been rather steady with only bumps to Beard Oil and Butters caused by the move to better ingredients. In many aspects, our prices have dipped as we have been able to become more efficient. In many ares, especially with J+L Apothecary, we are accused of having prices that are too low. We take that as a compliment despite some thinking that low price equates low quality.

Thank you!

These last few months have been a huge pain at times. We are still struggling with supply chain restrictions and the inability to produce many of our products until these restrictions are relieved. Current state, caps and bottles are non-existent with November being the nearest ETA from our suppliers. This is hurting us a lot.

But, we have you to thank for supporting us through this time. Although we can’t do our Pop-Ups, our online business has seen growth. Our regular customers are buying more and we are gaining a bunch of new ones – and we love you all for it! We are going to do our best to ensure we have our most popular products available, and looking into alternative packaging for our liquid soaps and conditioners that will also be more eco-friendly.

Without your business we may not be able to stay in business. And that is why we have to keep saying THANK YOU to all of you!

Change is Afoot

During our downtime the last few months we have been take a deep look at so much of our business. Despite the reasons why we had this time, it is very appreciative to have such time. Often we get bogged down with managing the day to day and preparing for the coming days that we don’t get a chance for true analysis of everything we do. In some situations, we were placed into a position where we were forced to think of a new way to do things. Whether it is a little as changing a package to having to rethink formulations for popular products.

When you look at any businesses’ back story you will often find that very challenging circumstances lead to great opportunity and future success. We would like to think that we are in a challenging time for our business and we wish to take the opportunity to fine tune ourselves in the hopes it leads to future success. We are taking a moment here to introduce some of our plans for change. Some of these we may have touched on previously, the rest may even seem surprising.

Packaging Changes

Seemingly everyone decided to start making hand sanitizer. Because of this, the most common sizes of bottles we use are simply not available. Even looking into other shapes and colors have come up empty. And, it’s not just bottles but caps as well. The interest to move into a more Eco-friendly packaging model has been on the whiteboard for some time now. Our solution is to package as many liquid products into pouches is in the works. These pouches can serve as the primary storing and dispensing method in your home, or they can serve as a refill to use in any bottle of your choice.

Some products may not suit this method well, and in those instances we are looking into new sizes. We already started migrating our 120ml Beard Shampoo and Beard Conditioner to 180ml bottles. Hand and body lotions will follow suit as we move through existing inventory.

To ensure consistency of our presentation, we are discounting some product options to help move the older packaging out. Once this process is complete, expect new photos of the new packaging.

New Product Formulations

Some may already be aware, to others this may be a new detail about our business and our products that you may not be aware. We have relied upon pre-manufactured bases. Early on, this was a means for us to offer products that are not easily made from scratch. Sourcing premium quality organic bases from a very reputable and internationally know maker of personal care assured us that we would be providing our shoppers a product that would perform extremely well. This also kept production costs down and permitted flexibility. These bases have be used to make all liquid soaps, foaming soaps, lotions and hair conditioners.

Our first foray into a house made version is our Beard Conditioner. With this formula, we were able to craft a very specialized conditioner that meets the needs of beard hair. It also allowed us to add in beneficial nutrients into the product at the optimum point in the making process. This experience has lead us to expanding into making our lotions and hair conditioner in house. We can still ensure premium quality and maintain flexibility, as well as offer a more dynamic formulation. We will be starting this transition with our REVITALIZING LOTION with Kelp. Soon afterwards, expect to see all our lotions made from scratch!

Bar Soaps will also experience a change. When we introduced the three formulations we currently have it was a means to find out what shoppers liked best. Every reaction was noted, along with every suggestion. The plan is to move through existing CRYSTAL and ORGANIC bar soaps and move some of those fragrances to our SHEA + OATMEAL soap. Other scents will migrate to a new glycerin soap recipe that includes better skin nourishing ingredients. We hope to introduce these changes this fall.

An Entirely New Look for J&L Pogonotrophics on the Horizon

From the day one, our Beard Care line of products has incrementally evolved into its current look. Little tweaks here and there have led us to our current label style that we use across the entire line. Realistically they really haven’t changed a great deal. Well, that is about to change. As we work into getting our products on the shelves at retailers, we feel a more refined approach would be beneficial to our namesake line of distinctive beard care products.

The initial impetus: Roughly a year ago we changed our design software for our labels. To put it simply, this new software didn’t like our current label layouts. Although we use standard file formats, they did not all translate well when opened in the new software. This has led to us rebuilding the labels as best as could while retaining the current look. Some may have noticed the colors were not exactly the same, but a bit darker. Taking some feedback and looking at the current landscape of package design, we feel it is the right time to go in an all new direction.

Select branding nuances will be retained. The color scheme for our different formulas will remain, along with our familiar fonts. Gone is the bold presence of our company logo which allows the individual products and their properties to be the focus. We even a borrowed a little from the new Apothecary labels.

These labels are still being evaluated and tested, yet the core of the direction we are headed is evident. Due to packaging needs, there will be the same style variations as you see currently. Smaller packaging will necessitate key elements be of a larger scale. Details we will strive to keep consistent is the “branding block” on the front and the placement of product information; with ingredients on the left, description and suggested application on the right. In our testing we are finding that this design style is much easier to scale to all products which leads to a much more consistent look. Tiny nuanced details will be refined before these are finalized and our rolled out to with new production runs. We feel that giving the product details center stage allows it to speak for itself.

New Product Development Shelved

We have a few items on the shelf, awaiting for the right time to launch. With the current environment it may not be wise to take on the risks associated with introducing all new products. Such items as deodorant, spray cologne, new body oil, body mist reformulation all for J&L Apothecary; and a utility soap bar for J&L Pogonotrophics are still being considered and internally developed. We are also looking into migrating our liquid soaps to an in house formulation. If we see the necessity of enough interest in these or other items, we will re-evaluate our position.

We Believe Change is Good

We never want to become stagnate. The surefire way to prevent stagnation is to be open to change. Change is scary to many, to make it easier for them we will call it progressive development. Some feel change is necessary for the sake of change – that is not us. You will not see us sweep aside so much of who we are and what we stand for just to show that we are now different. At the root, we are about simplicity when it comes to personal care. That root forms two trunks – a beard care brand that is rather masculine by nature; and our bath & body brand that caters to every body. This will not change! Products, formulations, fragrances, packaging and logos will change. Some may change more frequently than others.

You are our inspiration for change. By telling us what you like and what you don’t like gives us the information we need to either improve what we are already doing as well as to try new things. And by “you” we mean everybody. Not just those who shop with us as we listen to what others are saying in social media and other forums about personal care and grooming. Doing exactly that is what led to our two biggest inspirations – ORIGINAL BEARD BUTTER and JUNK OIL.

Be on the look out for all that we have presented here. Along with our J&L APOTHECARY rebranding, this year will be a big dose of change that will invigorate and hopefully inspire.

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 […]

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.