Walking ON AIR: Adventures in Radio

April 11th, 2014

by Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Let’s start with the complaining. When the request came in for an on-air interview from WGN Radio at midnight I immediately went to that place of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I haven’t been awake and coherent at midnight for years. But the girls, as they are so often called upon to do, did an intervention with me. Translation: they explained RedEye Remix to me and gave me some background on hostess Amy Guth: social media professional, novelist, journalist, funny person, pop culture mover and shaker. I stopped them there. I reminded them that I am technically in adrenal distress (per an actual physician) and should always be in bed when the streetlights go on and then I relented and said, let’s go for it. Thank God for that or I would have missed out on some really big fun. Hence this post and my message for the day. We have to make sure that little girls know how fun work really is – at least some of the time – when you get really lucky and the warm and funny and smart people reach out to you.

WGN_IMG_7479 green smoothie jammies

Fresh flowers, birthday cards, and pedicures – all left over from Annie’s birthday just days before. The green smoothie was fresh.

A bit of Saturday evening napping, followed by the Duggan Sister make everything possible elixir of life – a Green Smoothie with whey powder stirred in – and we were good to go for some Late Night Fun! That and the selection of our most pajama-like outfits, more commonly referred to as our IKEA ensemble, for obvious blue and yellow reasons. Fortified and almost in-bed-cozy, we were off to the city lights. And that’s when the iconic city at night, skulking in the bowels of the metropolis, fun of it all began.

WGN_IMG_7485 lower Michigan

Yes, I felt like Bat Girl as we pulled into below-the-city parking and got beeped in by security because “The Duggan Sisters Are Here For An Interview With Amy Guth.” It sounded very important at the time. The clock struck midnight as we pulled into a spot next to the loading ramp and listened in as Amy told her listeners that her guest for the evening was The Duggan Sisters …really, it was super exciting. Again, we don’t get out much – but it really was exciting. And we were ON.

WGN_IMG_7491 arriving security ladies

These gals were still pretty excited, what with the gift bag, and all. They hadn’t figure out yet that it was just deodorant.

Step One: engage the security staff. Act like you are somebody, and they will think  you are SOMEBODY. Until they hear the part about being deodorant makers. Though they did seem perfectly delighted to be going home that night with a snazzy sample kit from the Duggan Sisters. Gosh, I wish I’d had a minute to talk lymphatics with them and guide them about proper application. Oh, well.

WGN_IMG_7493 security gets bag

This lovely guard shared a joke with us. But we aren’t allowed to share it for at least six months. I assured him he did not have to wait six months to share his deodorant gift pack with his wife. He seemed pleased and got us our escort into the Tower.

We were getting pretty stoked as we approached the hallowed halls of the Chicago Tribune. Talk about a landmark building in my life – from Mike Royko’s column at the dinner table when I was a kid growing up in a very political family to my post-menopausal phase, where Mary Schmich is my mid-life journalistic Facebook “friend.”  For goodness sake, this is where Kevin Pang has romanced me with foodie talk for years. This is plain and simply unreal!

WGN_IMG_7517 outside wide angle

All of that seven degrees of Kevin Bacon drama was kicking in big time. Once we got out of the garage, that is, which is pretty much just dank and damp, unless you allow yourself to feel like Bat Girl. Which I did. KAZAM! And of course all the bundled stacks of Sunday papers waiting to be delivered and devoured. Mine amongst them somewhere.

WGN_IMG_7505 Katie Gibson in booth

Amy Guth’s adorable Producer, Katherine Gibson, swept us up and into the Green Room, where we waited for a few minutes and that’s when the whole thing triggered just the biggest Frazier flashback ever. It was getting very, very real as we peaked through the window into the Allstate Showcase Studio. We were actually going on live radio. Which I had only really conceptualized as wonderful and convenient because I wouldn’t have to hold my stomach in; but which was now appearing so much cooler on a so much bigger level. And then POW! and WOW! we were actually in studio and ON AIR.

WGN_IMG_7503 on air amy at mic

If you are not a Chicagoan, or have never visited Chicago – okay, first shame on you – you need to know that this studio is ground level, full surround windows, North Michigan Avenue amazing. Just outside the window is the sculpture of Hall of Fame Broadcaster, Jack Brickhouse. This is quintessential Chicago. I spent decades of my life working dismal jobs all over the city and would walk AM and PM past this window on my way to the train, oftentimes stopping to check out the celebrity being interviewed, while I licked Garrett’s Popcorn residue from my fingertips. And now here I was in that very studio with my own sisters, being warmly welcomed on LIVE RADIO by the just as pretty in real life Amy Guth, as she pointed to our great big chairs and directed us to cozy up tight to the giant microphones while she narrated on LIVE RADIO that the sisters were in the house, describing our IKEA corporate jammies to the listening audience. You know those moments, don’t you, when you wish your parents were still alive as they would be so proud of you. Yep, that kind of moment.

WGN_IMG_7496 on air light

50 free-wheeling, fun, easy-listening minutes followed. We don’t have a publicist; but we have garnered just enough press attention to know that it isn’t always fun and being interviewed is frequently not easy at all. At times it can be really stressful. Almost as stressful as reading the piece days or weeks later and marveling at the twists and turns your words and thoughts took on their journey to the page. But, enough of that for now. This time it was fun.

WGN_IMG_7509 on air annie mary amy


Only a few minutes had passed before Katie (oh yeah, we’re tight now and done with the Ms. Katherine Gibson thing) was whipping out a bakery box stuffed to elastic-waist-band-overflowing with gluten-free cupcakes in honor of Annie’s birthday. Clare and I were in on this bit of subversive activity; but even we were surprised when, I swear, I thought Annie was going to cry ON AIR. Annie has had quite the birthday this year. Next year we might even have to dial it back just a bit. Unless, that is, Howard Stern calls.

WGN_IMG_7512 cupcakes

Best. Cupcakes. Ever. I know we are all getting a little bit tired of that stylistic device; but really they were. And we will certainly be getting ourselves to Sweet Ali’s for some more.

But don’t be thinking it was all cupcakes and situation comedy flashbacks. Amy Guth is a consummate professional and she guided us skillfully through just the Best. Interview. Ever. There it is again, and I promise I am trying. But, seriously we got so much said and so much shared that I wish every single encounter we have with the media could be so in-depth and comprehensive. It was rewarding to not have to carefully manage sound bites, especially with cupcake crumbs falling out of our mouths. Though I do want it said, I did not eat any cupcake while ON AIR. I can’t say the same for my sisters. And that is why when Sunday morning breakfast rolled around about 3 PM that afternoon, I was entitled to an extra cupcake – but I didn’t get one – but again, I am making a real effort here to curtail the complaining. Just. This. Once.

WGN_IMG_7523 selfie with amy guth

This epic selfie with our new bff Amy Guth shows our IKEA outfits to real advantage, don’t you think?

I know this is a blog and I should have kept it shorter; but really, how often do I get to say that the Duggan Sisters were ON AIR and that it was so much fun? It’s a well-kept secret, I’m afraid, that some of the most amazing women actually are doing the most wonderful things with their working life. They are smart and funny and generous with their time and helping others along and making a great big difference in the world – thank you for that Amy and Katie. I want to start getting that secret told to young girls coming up. Oh yeah, you are going to work your tails off in this world. And you are going to meet lots of real jerks and have your hearts broken and your dreams derailed and at times, even your soul crushed. But there will be days when it will be just the best. Even if the day is actually the night and your doctor would prefer you were in bed because your adrenal glands are shot.

Don’t miss out on the fun!  Click to hear the show on this nifty Redeye Remix podcast.


Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

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About the author:

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

All wrapped up in love.

March 26th, 2014

Mary Duggan

By Mary Duggan

If I had known six years ago how rough and tumble the deodorant business was going to be, I would probably not have jumped into the fray. Good thing I didn’t know. I stand here now bruised and banged up and sucker-punched in ways I could never have imagined. Business can be a tough experience. If you make the brave choice to launch a brand, you need to expect to get lied to and lied about. You will most certainly work too much, lose all sense of  balance, damage your health, gain incredible amounts of weight and discover that all sorts of people you thought were on your side in life plain and simply aren’t. If you aren’t careful you might even get to a place where you wonder if your dream is worth all the worry and disappointments. That’s when you need to get all wrapped up in love.


Chicago’s One of a Kind Show and Sale, Merchandise Mart, December, 2013, the wall of love prototype. HUMANS OF LIFESTINKS. Few got the New York reference. But it worked.

At least that’s what we did when we decided Read the rest of this entry »

RETURN TO EXPO: Part five – Head home to eat dirt.

March 24th, 2014

Just joining us? Be sure to read Part one of our #EXPOWEST adventure.

By Mary Duggan

It’s almost time to talk about the French food. It’s our favorite end of show blow-out food ALWAYS, no matter what the city, and made wonderfully simple and delicious by the folks at Bistro Bleu. Technically, it was only the end of Day Two, but that is typically the roughest day of all.

rest_IMG_1597_bistro bleu

I know. This is hardly Parisian fashion. We call these our IKEA outfits. So we won’t get confused with Michigan fans.

rest_IMG_7179_bistro bleu

And it’s probably time to say no to the dairy-rich delights of creme brulee. For us g-f types, it messes us up pretty much the same way. But Lord have mercy.


And ooh la la, we have worked so hard. Don’t tell anyone it’s Lent. For us Irish Catholic types, this is what’s known as a dispensation, or to non-Catholics, heavenly chocolate mousse.

And it’s almost time to savor our final and few moments Read the rest of this entry »

RETURN TO EXPO: Part four – Shoji makes my day.

March 21st, 2014

Just joining us? Be sure to read Part one of our #EXPOWEST adventure.

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Truth be told, this was my sixth nosebleed in about a month. The stress of the show, no doubt, and the insanely dry winter air in Chicago, were major contributors. The drought-like conditions in California had offered no respite. But still I had never had a nosebleed in my life when they started up a few weeks earlier and they scared the bejeebers out of me. What horrible harbinger of forthcoming illness were they? A physician friend had guided me through the necessary steps to take; but I had dreaded having one at EXPO. And now here I was having a nosebleed – and a real gusher – in the final moments of the second day. My sisters sat me down, got me the necessary supplies and headed back to sell, sell, sell – as the booth was still hopping – even though our floor had technically been closed for close to an hour.

It was not just the nosebleed that was so embarrassing. It was that – per doctors orders – I had to jam a tampon up my nose to get the bleeding to stop. Okay? Read the rest of this entry »

RETURN TO EXPO: Part three – Aloha means love.

March 20th, 2014

Just joining us? Be sure to read Part one of our #EXPOWEST adventure.

By Mary Duggan

EXPOWEST is one enormous ongoing conversation. And so we pack throat spray and lozenges and make sure there is comfortable seating for long chats. Really, you are throwing a party – only the food comes from fellow vendors, instead of a caterer or your own kitchen. We were blessed to be kitty-corner from the FEEL GOOD gluten-free egg roll company. The line never let up, the smell was insanely wonderful, and it was the closest we came to lunch breaks for 3 days.

others_IMG_7140_gf asian

For my first conversation, I  was delighted to be able to open our chat with “Aloha!” And even more delighted when this enthusiastic group from Honolulu opened 4  accounts with the Duggan Sisters. Folks had been walking into their stores in Hawaii and requesting lifestinks deodorant and they had listened!!! Can you imagine a more perfect beginning to EXPO? And I swear, I have NEVER asked my cousins who live in Hawaii to go into any stores and request our products. I do often ask if they would consider adopting me.


Remember, Aloha means I love you! And Aloha lifestinks means I love you lifestinks deodorant. Or something like that.

In rapid-fire succession Annie was deep into a conversation with 2 phenomenal women from Norway who want lifestinks in their high-end natural beauty stores – all 114 of them! Holy mole! Or holy fjord!

customers_IMG_7135_Norway_Scent & Parfymelle

Is it true, Kathrine from Parfymelle, that Norwegian men are statistically the most helpful around the house of any men on the planet? I’m curious and I read this in the Chicago Tribune.

On and on the day unfolded, with new friends joining the lifestinks family from around the globe.

customers_IMG_1572_state college pa

Mary and Michelle from State College Pennsylvania quickly found common ground for discussion. Every health food store is looking for really effective natural deodorant and Michelle said a resounding yes to lifestinks in her store. Thx, Michelle!

Make new friends. Keep the old. One is silver, the other gold. Okay, cornball and very grade school. But oh so true. Nothing is sweeter than friends from Chicago dropping by to say Hi!


Bob Billow stumbled upon us in our early days at a Farmers’ Market in Wilmette. He remains a loyal supporter and trusted advisor.


No one ever means more to you than the first store that says YES and then rocks your product for years to come. Nobody compares to Abdul and Rita Qaiyum, owners of Merz Apothecary.

Annie and I are so proud of Clare’s linguistic abilities – yep, she speaks five languages – and they come in handy in today’s global economy. The number of languages spoken in the aisles of EXPO was stunning and exciting. I wonder if international attendees had some sort of radar when it came to Clare, because she connected with so many of them.


The story behind Jose Hernandez’ stores in Mexico is beautiful. I hope he says yes to the sisters soon.  I can’t wait to share his wonderful story – the true foundation of every business worth owning.

The Duggan Sisters get EXTREMELY emotional when discussions are held about launching our products in stores in Australia – because that is where our people came from – after Ireland, that is. Our mother prided herself on the lifelong epistolary connections she maintained to all her family there. And our Australian cousins are among our absolute favorites. So you can imagine how delighted we were to have the charming Ben Zwarts FROM AUSTRALIA in our booth.


Whatever you can do Ben, really. I mean my mother in heaven is watching. But no worries, really. Whatever you can do to bring us into your extraordinary chain will be greatly appreciated.

And the wonderful conversations, domestic and international went on and on. Apologies right now to the many of the wonderful smiling faces that will have to  appear in upcoming blogs. There are just too many to share here.

customers_IMG_1600_x & jennifer_canadian dist

Jennifer Menna, President of a multi-generational distribution company out of Aurora, Ontario, Canada, was a natural to connect with the sisters.

customers_IMG_1591_NZ Marily & Gary

Hey, Marilyn and Gary, distributors all the way from New Zealand, Clare’s favorite Green Smoothie is made with celery and kiwis. I’m just sayin – we could be a “natural” fit for you!

You get the picture. EXPO is a gathering of individuals worldwide who are trying to make real inroads on the planet. They work tirelessly day in and day out, in small towns and large, carrying forth a message that there are healthy and effective alternatives to pharmaceuticals and Monsanto in every type of product. It is really a tremendous honor to stand among them and make our small contribution. And when we consider all the voices at EXPOWEST struggling to be heard we are doubly-touched to capture even a few minutes of the attendees’ hectic schedules.

Our fellow exhibitors never fail to delight us with their stories, as well. We rarely have a moment to step away from our own booth – but it is important to at least try. When we do we are thrilled to stumble upon the makers of products we enjoy all the time in our own home. For quite a few weeks now there has been an empty bag of corn chips in the corner of our kitchen counter. A stickler for tidy I got after Clare about it and was told in no uncertain terms to not throw it away. She needed to carry it into our local grocery store to show the buyer there. It was such a remarkable corn chip she felt they should be carrying it. And who does she meet on her way to the Ladies’ Room? The second generation of that very company. It was wonderful to be able to relay to him how much we love his product and hear his family’s amazing story. One of the many gifts of EXPO.


Until you have tasted Xochitil White Corn Chips you won’t know what you are missing. These non-GMO, organic chips are so thin and crisp and delicious that if you eat just a few you too will be praising Chicomecoatl, the Goddess of Corn. Congrats, John Salinas on a great story and a great product.

We had never met Dr. Bob Martin, a radio personality with a large and dedicated following, who thrilled us with a wonderful shout-out about our products on his show one day. It was a big kick as a small family business to hear our name on the radio. And we got to thank Dr. Bob and his family, in person, when they stopped by the booth to say Hi!

customers_IMG_7124_dr. bob martin

It’s gratifying to see organizations you have enjoyed for years hit big milestones. One of the very first g-f crackers I ever tasted was given to me as a joke. But the taste was no joke and I have remained a loyal fan. Congratulations to all the good folks at Mary’s Gone Crackers for hitting the ten-year marker.

gf sorry ayres_IMG_7146

How could I not act silly in the Mary’s Gone Crackers booth?

We collapsed at the end of our second day at California’s Z Pizza where we devoured the most wonderful gluten-free pizza and delighted in the amazing and cordial staff at this simple family fast food joint. We were really looking for a softer landing. A sport where we could dissolve into a bottle of wine along with our pizza. But the kindness and helpfulness of the staff made it a perfect spot to wind-down. It always comes down to the people – doesn’t it? I hope this chain makes its way to Chicago SOON.

rest_IMG_1050_z pizza

If you spot this in your area, STOP IN. The g-f breadsticks alone make it worthwhile. Best. Breadsticks. Ever.

But over dinner, almost too tired to even talk to each other, I had to relate to my sisters nonetheless the beautiful experience I’d had at the very end of the day. It began with me having a nosebleed – at EXPO. Sheesh.
Click to continue to Part four of our RETURN TO EXPO.


Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.
Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

About the author:

Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

**Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love hearing from you.**

RETURN TO EXPO: Part two – Ten minutes = nine cookies.

March 19th, 2014

Just joining us? Be sure to read Part one of our #EXPOWEST adventure.

By Mary Duggan

I know when you think of us being in Anaheim, it looks something like this.

scenes_IMG_7081 palms in sky

And it does for us too; for about 5 minutes each day. Mostly we are in a convention center so toxic that it’s hard to believe it will soon be filled with 65,000 people looking for the latest and greatest in natural everything. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder, or booth-to-booth, as it were, with thousands of exhibitors who are exhausted, stressed to the nines, and frequently in need of lifestinks deodorant. It takes lots of hours and lots of back strain to set up a booth. Folks who knock together minimalist presentations in about an hour and then go out to enjoy the marvels of California are rare. And, we don’t like them – at all.

This year we challenged ourselves by designing a nifty 7-part sample box. In five days. Which means all the parts arrived in Anaheim and we created our 500 sample kits there. So while Clare and Annie spent close to 2 hours hanging the signs that arrived bent, wrinkled, too long and without grommets for hanging, I made sample kits. Our designer had worked like crazy with Clare to bring our Humans of Lifestinks concept – the very one we had premiered at the One of a Kind Show – to professional fruition. And we changed the name, just a bit, so our lawyer wouldn’t have a stroke. So after two hours of struggle, instead of the expected 20 minutes, up went the Stories of Lifestinks photo quilt, and I have to admit it looked like a Tibetan Tanka to me. Which, I guess, is a good thing.

zz_IMG_7084 sample making

I had to stop being a crabby sample maker when Debbie Ratcliff from Tassos in Oakbrook Terrace, IL stopped by because she is a lot nicer person than me and I did not want her to figure that out. Here I am having a ball making sample kits. 500 of them.

The walls went up and the brand new floor went down. And then came up again; because we had done it wrong. So back down again it went – correctly this time – and then hallelujah our pallet appeared via fork-lift and we could breathe. Everything we needed to create our 10×10 home away from home had arrived in one piece. All would be well. And just in time, as it was now lights out at the Convention Center. See all of you again bright and early tomorrow. And it was off to the hotel for the sisters to unload the avalanche of stuff loaded into the van.

Clare had worked miracles and found us a brand new hotel in the family-owned Ayres chain  - offering introductory Spring Fling prices – and just 10 minutes from the Convention Center. Designed by a famous Feng Shui master, it is take-your-breath-away gorgeous from the minute you step into the sensory soothing ice blue lobby with the extraordinary waterfall featured in the health and wealth corner and the crystal everything and the water-balancing fireplace and the prosperity-generating gold fish imagery.

fountain valley ayres lobby

Except the Feng Shui was not quite powerful enough to balance the extreme understaffing. It was really late and we were really tired and we were dealing with boatloads of plunder to unload from our rented van. So arriving was a spiritually appropriate end-point to our Ash Wednesday mortifications until our overloaded cart went rogue and barreled  head-on into one of the round for gentle-entry but precariously balanced glass-topped tables which went down really fast shattering glass EVERYWHERE. The Duggan Sisters had landed. Within hours we would also cause the electricity to blow in 80% of our room, making the free WiFi not such a big deal; and a few other minor kerfluffles, as well. Brand new hotels have kinks. Even when they have been professionally Feng Shui-ed. And we were just the right South Side of Chicago girls there to prove it – for 5 “smashing” days.

Annie assures me that she was very courteous when she explained to the Manager the following morning that it is hard to enjoy the free breakfast when absolutely nothing is labelled as safe for gluten sensitive folks. The manager had never heard the words gluten-free before (!); and so we nibbled cautiously at eggs that we hoped were actually eggs and high-tailed it to the Convention Center. Imagine our delight when we returned to our room oh-so-late that night. Granted it was still 80% unlit; but, there in the shadows of the desk was an assortment of pink-boxed gluten-free treats that would have impressed any gf warrior. Talk about enchantment. A note of apology, and assurances of the Ayres Hotel getting up-to-speed on gluten-free issues, sat atop boxes of blueberry muffins, cinnamon buns, banana bread, white bread and chocolate chip cookies. We GOOGLED Curves California, immediately!

gf sorry ayres_IMG_7148

Please do not forward this blog to Dr. Bill Davis. We know, we know, healthy gluten-free does not mean gluten-free treats. It means fish and vegetables, for breakfast, even on your birthday. Okay?

I don’t mean to harp on gluten-free and what it means to us as a family but OMG gluten-free is THE biggest trend, bar none, in the world of natural products. Mega numbers of booths were dedicated to businesses making the most delicious g-f foods. And when we took a quick lunch break from setting up the booth a quick Web search brought us to a take-out joint, California-style, called XA. Again, gluten-free enchantment was in the air. Because there was a mix-up in our order and a time delay ensued that was stressful due to our schedule for the day, we were sent home with NINE gluten free cookies, as an apology for the less than maybe 10-minute delay. Do the math: that’s like a cookie a minute! Time well-spent?

rest_IMG_7072 xa cookies

I have to say just a few more words about the fast food served at XA. First of all, only in California would you find a menu labelled to assist you in your efforts at “clean eating.” That’s right, you could choose from the Paleo section, the Vegan section, the – you get the picture. The servers were darling and the chef-owner came out from the kitchen as we left to wish us a wonderful EXPO. Of course, we returned for a second visit. Sunshine just seems to makes people nicer.

rest_IMG_7073 xa

Fast-food, really.

And I have to share something else trending strong in California. I am not sure this photo does the experience justice, but really every single man who came in to have lunch while we were there was wearing a shirt that was either pink or lavender, and either checked or striped. It was lovely. It was fast-food dining California-style. Chicago was so cold this winter that I always kept my coat on inside restaurants, and sometimes my hat and scarf. But that is a different blog post. A really horrible one.

rest_IMG_7071 xa shirts

So, we took our pale selves back to work and pushed on through for hours until we got our booth just the way we wanted it. Good flow. Clear points of entry and exit. Three separate work stations. Seats for us and for exhausted attendees. Tables skirted in felt made from recycled water bottles. Table scapes built on boxes made from recycled paper and cardboard. All the tricks of the trade that almost six years of shows had taught us. The less-than-perfect signs were jerry-rigged and hung, hundreds of samples were stowed under the tables in quick release black laundry hampers from IKEA – a solution more elegant than the description might allow. And on the table our tried and true Don’t Be A Boob diagrams, alongside new informational materials about Triclosan in deodorants and BPA causing Man Boobs. We were ready to rock the show.




A light bite was followed by a good night’s sleep. By early morning, we were ready to slide on the badges visibly dangling above and begin Day One. It’s EXPOWEST 2014 and the sisters are in the house.

Follow along with the fun. Continue reading:  THE DUGGAN SISTERS’ RETURN TO EXPO: Part Three - Aloha means love.

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.
Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

About the author:

Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

**Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love hearing from you.**

RETURN to EXPO: Part one – Fake donuts have real calories.

March 18th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Here is what thousands and thousands of dollars gets you.

boot_IMG_7075 before

Booth 5619, Wednesday 5PM. That’s right. You even bring your own floor.

An empty 10′ x 10′ space that’s your biggest and best chance to get your story told. To make your mark and hold your own. To capture the imagination and dollars of shopkeepers and distributors and media from all over the world. You and the other 3,000 exhibitors at the Natural Products EXPO, that is. The Duggan Sisters got notified AT THE VERY LAST MOMENT that this very special corner space in the Health and Beauty section was available; but there were only 5 days to prepare and meet the absolute final shipping date.

And so we worked day and night for those 5 days and shipped 670 pounds of our best efforts to Anaheim.


Friends of many years loaded and wrapped our pallet in the parking lot of UPS. Who needs a dock and fork lift? We do. But, great friends saved the day.

Add in the other items we direct-shipped and we’re looking at some 800 pounds of really big dreams. 800 pounds of an amazing designer who has had our back since Day One and worked late nights to make our vision a reality. 800 pounds of suppliers and printers and label makers and shipping companies and our amazing technician, Janet – all of whom went into overdrive to make it possible for us to do in a few days what sane business owners do in a few months. And fueling this great big yes? A big-hearted angel investor who stepped in at the very last minute with the necessary capital to go for it.

Scramble to find a hotel room still available, book flights, and reach out to very dear friends in the area who said Welcome to LA with a healing whirlpool warmed and waiting for some very weary sisters. California, make way for the Duggan sisters.

scenes_IMG_7195 donovans

Don’t be taken in by this photo. I still want you to feel sorry for us and how hard we had to work to get to this hot tub. Okay?

On the way from the airport we retraced our steps from last year and stopped in at the Larchmont Bungalow. The always gracious Lorena was there with the most delicious gluten free breakfast options and a cheering report on the big career moves she has made this year. You meet the loveliest people selling deodorant; people who make LA feel like home the minute you land, shell-shocked from the cold and desperate to see anything green or in bloom.

rest_IMG_1037 larchmont

Look for this sweet smiling face on the big screen – SOON! No, not me, Lorena.

Of course, if you followed our adventure at EXPO last year, you will not be surprised to know that my dear friend Maripat Donovan greeted me with a hug and a comment, “Well, you certainly won’t get hit by a bus in that outfit!” This year we were put up in a different part of the complex – the beach cabana actually – and it was still House of Hilarity all the way. Check out the sign hanging over my bed.

scenes_IMG_7066 donovans

But there was no time to hang-out in LA. We were bound for Anaheim, so it was a quick check-in with Team Maripat, the Chihuahua squad, the giant tortoise, Mary the cat, Eddie the newest rescue dog, and then it was into the minivan. We have a booth to build. But not before Annie snuck into the kitchen of Maripat’s food truck enterprise and blended our Green Smoothie stash for the next few days. Can you imagine the TSA inspectors going through our luggage and finding the 3 gallon jugs stuffed with freshly cut greens and fruit awaiting Maripat’s blender? No liquids. No problem.

scenes_IMG_1038 smoothies

10 grams of organic whey powder stirred into each sister’s smoothie. Breakfast of Champions!

But then again, woman does not live by Green Smoothies alone. You better believe when we saw the sign for FONUTS we made a rapid-fire pull over. We’d seen this gluten free “bakery” on TV and were dying to try this LA-based gluten free donut that is steamed and baked not fried. Gluten free and vegan to boot.

rest_IMG_7052 fonuts

rest_IMG_7055 fonuts

Actually they proved to be not so donut-like after all. More like really good g-f cakes. But the calories, I imagine, were pretty much the same. I guess we should find the local Curves!


Trust me, I was feeling pretty LA with my FONUTS detour. Until I got back in the van, where Annie was behind the wheel and grinning ear-to-ear, holding our spot in the No Parking Zone. “Guess who just pulled up next to me? In a convertible Mercedes? Steven Tyler from Arrowsmith!” And here I thought FONUTS  was so LA!

Follow along with the fun. Click to continue to THE DUGGAN SISTERS’ RETURN TO EXPO: Part Two –  10 Minutes = 9 Cookies 

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.
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About the author:

Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

**Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love hearing from you.**

Stuck In My Ways

March 1st, 2014

Mary Duggan

By Mary Duggan

It’s time to travel and so I am trying to tamp down my anxiety levels. I wish I was a carefree traveler. I wish I could look forward to leaving town. I wish I didn’t worry so much about the airlines and the clothes and the supplements and the dietary changes and the itsy bitsy personal care products. I wish I wasn’t one to get my undies in such a big bundle. But I am. And I have decided to be proud of it. Read the rest of this entry »


February 13th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary DugganOkay, nobody got the joke. Well, almost nobody. But we are still glad we mimicked the HUMANS OF NEW YORK photo and story phenomenon in designing our One of a Kind Show and Sale® booth at the Merchandise Mart this past December. In our case, copying was indeed the highest form of flattery. Like Brandon Stanton – the creator, photographer, and story collector behind the Humans of New York  international Facebook phenomenon – we treasure and wanted to celebrate  the photos and stories our amazing lifestinks customers have shared with us over the years.

Who in the world writes to their deodorant maker? Our folks do and their generous and amazing stories energize and delight us. Read the rest of this entry »

We Broke The Rape Rule: After Words

February 5th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

I assault you. It is violent and criminal. But you remain silent. You do this to protect your family and possibly yourself. But you only really protect me – the rapist. This is the rape rule.

Breaking the rules with a blog post last week was difficult for us as a family. But we were shown nothing but kindness and respect in return. It proved to be an exhausting but healing experience. Our post hardly went viral; but it had strong legs and our message was carried all over the world. Many responded publicly on the blog. We managed extensive comments on four separate Facebook pages. Followers of our Twitter account graciously and widely retweeted. Clare pushed and promoted and pushed some more.  Readers wrote e-mails; some from as far away as Italy and France and New Zealand while one came from our next door neighbor. Others had memories and feelings and thoughts still so painful after many years that they chose to share them privately via Inbox.

It is behind us now. What will never be fully behind us is the rape. Because it altered our family in ways from which it never recovered.

Rape takes place within familiar systems: the military, collegiate athletics, churches, schools – we all know the tragic and harrowing stories. We know how the systems failed to protect the children, the soldiers, the athletes –  how they mainly protected the rapists. But the overarching system that has taken the biggest hit of all is the family system. It is hard for families to recover from rape. Perhaps the finest book on rape and the family is the masterpiece novel by Joyce Carol Oates entitled “We Were the Mulvaneys.” It broke my heart to read it years ago, because I know the story too well. Because we were the Duggans.

Whether you have been raped by a priest, a coach, a commanding officer, your boyfriend, or a stranger, your first and often only recourse lies with your family. Tragically so many women who are raped come from family situations that are too broken to know how to respond, too dysfunctional to be able to respond or too overwhelmed to do anything that is effective. Ours was a truly decent family – full of children with lots of amazing attributes and abilities but lacking finally a father. After some thirty years of marriage and eleven children he left – forever – and nothing was ever the same. Nothing was ever fully okay again. How could anyone expect it to be when at the helm was one extraordinary, heartbroken, exhausted, fierce, proud, overworked and overwhelmed woman? A woman with an ingrained sense of shame so enormous that it often overshadowed many of her better instincts about justice and fairness and love.

Shame is not always wrong. It is often appropriate. Rapists should be ashamed of themselves but never are. Victims are always ashamed of themselves and should never be. These roles need to be reversed. The various systems within which we live need to address this topsy-turvy morality rigorously. And it needs to be addressed within the most elemental and essential system of them all – the family.

There is no place for shame or blame for rape victims; for healing to begin they must be heard and trusted completely. The very occasional and aberrant pathological liar crying wolf can not be allowed to diminish the stories of the real victims. Vigilante family members only further traumatize the rape victim – as do outdated police and court procedures. Rape victims must have guarantees that their wishes will be honored. They have to be afforded time and a place to heal. And they have to own their stories forever.

Recovery for so many rape victims means the story just goes away. Families are called upon to never speak of it again. It is just too painful, too ugly, too awful. I can understand this. We, as sisters, rarely speak of Annie’s rape. And then only because we have to. But I want to make sure that before the veil of silence is drawn a just ending has been guaranteed. That desire is what triggered our intense desire for Julian Fellowes to write a just resolution to a rape story line playing out in a manor house in Edwardian England. The rape at Downton Abbey was a rape at work; a workplace that is also the home of a family. And so two systems intersect: home and work; family and employer. Which will prevail? Will either prevail?

My sister Annie is proof that happy endings can and do occur. It was not her fault; but the system failed her miserably. And so we focus now on her present. We love the parts of her that survivorship has created. She knows how to take charge when the situation merits. She is vigilant about protecting children. She has courageously stood up to another rapist when a child’s life was in the balance. She has eyes in the back of her head and impeccable instincts about creeps and losers and predators. She is nobody’s fool and a ferocious advocate for anyone  being taken advantage of or being misrepresented or worse. At the absolute darkest moment in my life she defended me and paid the most unimaginable price for doing so.

Annie laughs when we call her “Officer Ann” because she knows it comes from us loving her keen and watchful eye on the boogie men in our midst. I think it is because her rage has been allowed and her story honored that she is able to be so incredibly loving, so hysterically funny, so bold and so brave and so kind. Despite it all, she has managed to write a wonderful story for her life. She is writing it still and joyfully so.

Annie and Mary. Bad ass in the Badlands, June, 1993.

Annie and Mary. Bad ass in the Badlands, June, 1993.


About the author:

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

Stay in touch! Sign up to receive alerts when Mary posts a new lifescribe blog.

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.


**Please leave your comments and thoughts below. We love hearing from you.**