Clearly Natural, Part 2

Early this month we posted an article about our approach to natural products by letting the their natural state stand out. As we move throw introducing the new clear packaging we are surprising ourselves with how the items appear. It’s not a bad thing, just different and at times comical.


Our new SHOWER GEL is presenting the most interesting reactions. When working scent and essential oils into soap and other base components there is a scenario called the “vanilla effect”. Named for the common culprit, many oils can cause a product to become yellowed or even brownish in hue and often cloudy. To incorporate all our added ingredients to the organic base liquid takes a gentle touch to properly blend all components well. It is soap after all and the lightest agitation will cause bubbles. You cannot whip or shake the mixture or else you end up with voluminous suds that will take weeks to condense and settle before you can even package it.


These two characteristics has led to some interesting results. No matter how gentle we are, when filling the pouches, a head still forms on the soap. Normally this will take a couple weeks to go down and has absolutely zero effect on the performance of the product if it returns through movement. Combined with the vanilla affect of some of the oils, it causes the SHOWER GEL and PET SHAMPOO to look like freshly poured beers when we fill each pouch. The color differences between scent options provides the appearance of a light IPA to a farmhouse red ale.

SHOWER GEL and PET SHAMPOO showing off their true colors

Now there is no cause to be alarmed, and it should not need to be mentioned that this are not to be consumed internally. The bottom line is that we strive to keep our formulations and ingredients as simple as possible and plant based. We use very little emulsifier in our soaps as they can have a negative impact to the lather. The desired viscosity of our liquid soaps adds to the “head” forming and taking longer to flatten. And as it being soap, it will easily reform when agitated. That means, when it ships to your door it has likely been jostled and shaken quite a bit. No need to let it settle before using it, you will still get the same luxurious lather with every use. In fact, these liquid soaps have the most amazing lather you will likely find in any body wash!

Clearly, we make a great product. It may not be the prettiest (unless you love the visual aesthetics of beer), but the experience it provides is pure beauty.

Clearly Natural

Natural isn’t always colorful and “pretty”. But, it is still beautiful.

By introducing many of our natural products in clear packaging we are showing off our products contents as a priority. With many of our items not having added colors and relying upon natural oils and other ingredients it presents them in their off white or yellow hues. They are rarely clear, often opaque or cloudy in appearance. To some that may seem wrong, that we should hide these less “attractive” traits by using colorants or hide them in their packaging. We don’t agree.

There is beauty in these less colorful products. That is the beauty of their natural state, untouched by bleaching agents and artificial colors. We see that lack of unnecessary ingredients to make them appear more vibrant; offer no tangible positives in performance. Tiny imperfections caused by using very simple production methods proof of our brand’s commitment to natural. While our contemporaries use flair to distract your eyes, we let our products be seen for exactly what they are made of.

We do use color here and there to help differentiate formulas and scents. And where it makes sense, such colorants will remain in use. As we migrate to our new Stand-Up Pouches for all our liquid soaps and conditioners, along with the clear bottles and jars we have been using, we wish to let the simplicity of their formulations shine through. While you may see dingy and dull colors, yellows and grey hues; you are seeing proof that we make natural products free of all that is not necessary to bring you a quality product that performs as needed.

There are others who make products that remain clear, or pure white; even may have a pastel color. In most of these instances extra steps are taken to remove the color from the natural ingredient, or they use fruit based colorants and compounds like titanium dioxide to make their product more “pure” in appearance. Our view is that the product in itself can show off how natural it is without the need to appeal to a sense of perceived purity through added colorants.

Don’t expect us to be embarrassed by any of this, as it is a reason for us to be proud. And we feel that the folks who buy our products will relish our decision to not hide the natural beauty of our products. This is just one more way we buck trends and carve our own path.

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.