Six years ago a reseller offered a suggestion, a request for products that are more attractive to their female customers. At this time we were expanding J&L Pogonotrophics into more skin care products for men. From this feedback we were told that their mostly female customer base was really liking our aesthetic, our products and our prices. Yet, they wanted to know if we made more items in scents and formulas that would appeal to them more.
At first the response was a very polite declining of the opportunity. Despite that it would be a great means to grow our business we did not want to be like all those brands that design for men to only abandon them to appeal to women. Or worse, those that make a men’s line that is merely a repackage of their women’s products. We want to to stay focused on men, and encourage more men to take pride in their appearance and see how self care through personal care is for them too. Nor did I feel I would be the right person to present such items to women. I am sure they would love the products but once they see the person behind them they would feel that it is another instance of a man telling a woman how to look, feel and smell – a real issue in the personal care & cosmetic industry.
I was convinced that my efforts don’t have to be grand, just offer a couple more scents that are softer or sweeter in the products I already make. At this time, I was already making an Argan Hair Oil, Body Oils, Lotion, Soaps, and Salt Scrubs. To offer these in “feminine” scents, something I just felt weird about, would be easy – I guess.
Never being a fan of very floral or fruity scents, I had to reach out to some of the women I know to learn what scents appealed to them most. My mother and 3 sisters were never much for body scents that were too sweet or floral, so I did not have them to reference. What I came up with were scents that I liked that were on the lighter side: Citrus Green Tea, Grapefruit Herb, Lavender. Adding a Rose Peony scent as something floral that I could work with. I got to work making a few of my existing products in these new scents. Coming up with a Body Oil, Body Wash and Salt Scrubs in these scents and a few of our Beard Care scents that were more universal.
Then the next hurdle was want to brand all these new things as? If they are not intended for Bearded Men, POGONOTROPHICS would not fit. In a pinch, we opted to use J&L Apothecary as the brand name. All of these new items were technically final release versions for testing. The next job was to get them in front of our customer to see and smell them. It was important that this reseller give feedback and final approval to whatever we were to make. Every intent was these to be exclusive to them and I even implied that they should handle the branding and we just put “Made by J&L Pogonotrophics” on the label somewhere.
We spent weeks trying to get them to respond to arrange this meeting. Phone calls when unanswered, emails received no reply and even talking to them in person they was ineffective as they simple told us to call or email to set up a time. I gave this a month or more before I had to put my attentions elsewhere to prepare for our first Midsommarfest. I knew this would be big and we needed to be ready for it.
As the time of the festival approached, I looked at all this product I made for this reseller sitting on my shelves and staring back at me like a huge waste of time and money. If this reseller did not want to work with me, then these were a loss. I decided to make space for them at the festival to unload them and recoup the expenses.
I made clear that these were not our Women’s line. They are merely lighter scent options that may appeal to a wider audience. I never cared for the concept of “men’s” and “women’s” in regards to such products. I know plenty of men that love sweet and floral scents as well as women that prefer bold and spicy scents. When it came to our Beard Oils we had lighter scents, our Junk Oil is Bergamot & Lavender… The mission with these new products was to expanded into more scents that are more likely to appeal to more women. Yet, at times it was easier to tell women that these were our women’s products.
The response to these was fantastic and very positive. The only negative was that a couple people did not like the idea of them being for women. Most did not care, but I took this as a new mission on how to identify these products as being for everybody.
The feedback led to some of the deepest thinking I have every had about what I do here. I had always saw J&L as for Bearded & Hairy Men. All these products that were initially designed to get those men to apply the same care to the rest of their body as they do to their face. If a person without a beard bought it and enjoyed it I have nothing to say other than Thank You! I needed to place that dividing line between “for beards” and “for every thing else” and not between “men” and “women”. J&L’s tagline was always Be Epic. Well, J&L Apothecary was going to continue that statement to Every Body. Be You; Be Epic!
This was a way to put into words my philosophies behind personal care and self care. As one that stills struggles with self-esteem issues, I learned that little luxuries that I do for myself do make me feel better. When I receive a compliment for how great my beard looks, I start to feel even more present and appreciated leading to me liking myself more. Where those little luxuries were an occasional thing, I wanted to make them more obtainable for more people by offer the experience and at a more reasonable price.
Six years ago, the precursor to JÖL was born. Since then we have grown into something bigger than we imagined yet more in tune with our mission. We offer more options in personal care and more options in scents. Quality, performance and the simple utilitarian nature of all that we do is all that matters to us. As JÖL, we don’t profile anything we make for anyone. It is all centered into a core philosophy that was established by Harry Gordon Selfridge many years ago; “In matters of taste, the customer is always right.” We just make it, you decide if it suits your taste. This customer-centric principle violates everything we are told on how to market a brand today. We don’t care what those people think, we only care what our customers think.