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.

2019-2020 NPD Roadmap

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

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

BODY BUTTER & BATH BUTTER – available now

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

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

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

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

DEODORANT STICK – February 2020, maybe

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

“JUNK OIL” CREAM – Fall 2019

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

FRAGRANCES & FLAVORS – FALL 2019

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

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

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

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

“BUG REPELLENT SPRAY” – SPRING 2020

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

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

PRIMP & JOL

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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