Archive for the ‘LifeStinks® goes to market’ Category

It’s Not Just Business; And I Do Take It Personally.

Friday, May 16th, 2014

by Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

My reaction was so swift and painful that it surprised even me – the queen of overreacting. The one with the damaged brain that registers hurt quickly and deeply, despite every effort to get a grip – please.

We’d been thrilled for weeks about being featured in Crain’s Chicago Business, the famed Chicago business publication. We thought we’d done pretty well with the interview. We were all over the topic: Sibling Entrepreneurs. We’d taken the time to discuss our shared experiences before our date with the reporter; and when we did our standard post-mortem, we were okay-ish with the way in which we’d represented ourselves, our family and our business. There’s always this or that you wish you’d expressed differently.

It’s never easy being interviewed. The reporter has an editorial directive – an intent for their piece – and it can be frustrating to try to get your true story out there in the face of the journalist’s assignment. Plus we’re wildly inexperienced, having had very few opportunities to speak to the press during our six-year business history. Coupled with not having a publicist, it can be kind of scary. But generally the decency and enthusiasm and professionalism of the reporter makes the fears go away – and that was most certainly the case with Monica Ginsburg from Crain’s Chicago Business. (more…)

Walking ON AIR: Adventures in Radio

Friday, 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.

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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.

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Yes, I felt like Bat Girl (more…)

All wrapped up in love.

Wednesday, 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.

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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 (more…)

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

Monday, 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.

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

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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.

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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 (more…)

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

Friday, 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? (more…)

RETURN TO EXPO: Part three – Aloha means love.

Thursday, 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.

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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.

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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! (more…)

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

Wednesday, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.**

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

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Here is what thousands and thousands of dollars gets you.

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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. (more…)

HUMANS OF LIFESTINKS

Thursday, 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. (more…)

Birthdays Are Such A Good Idea

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

By Mary Duggan

Let’s just say the girls went garbage picking for my birthday. And it worked out beautifully.

In the weeks preceding the Big 60 there was much gnashing of teeth and sighing coming from my sisters about the plans for my 60th birthday celebration. Now the girls are big on doing it up really big when it comes to the milestone birthdays. When I turned 40 it was a Wild Women Road Trip to the Badlands. And they topped that one with a whopper when they took me to Paris for the Big 50. Like I said they are crazy generous and enthusiastic sister-friends and both times they pulled out all the stops with itineraries so jammed packed with fun that it defied belief. So what were they to do with 60 to celebrate and no cash available?

I tried desperately to let them off the hook. I adore organizing and had noticed that Container Store was running a sale on some specialty shelf liners that I had coveted for years. No really. I had always wanted them. I love to clean and organize and my kitchen needs them desperately. I actually suggested a gift of shelf paper. Really, I did. Of course I came quickly to my senses and then withdrew that particular suggestion. But I was determined to help with the party plans and pull the weight off their shoulders by taking all expectations down – way down.

I came up with the idea of really enjoying yet another stay-cation. I mean we live in Chicago, not some sleepy little hamlet. And we never make the time to just plain enjoy Chicago. So I proposed a bloom where you are planted – don’t forget to enjoy your own garden kind of shindig. Better still, I said, let’s build it around the Printers Row Lit Fest, which is always held on my birthday and which I never go to because I am always having some kind of big birthday fun with my sisters. Once I proposed a theme that we could all get behind, all that was left to do was peruse the daily Tribune build-up to the big event and circle the authors and events on the enormous 2-day calendar that interested me.

Author April Peveteaux's autographs Mary's birthday book.

Author April Peveteaux autographs Mary’s birthday book.

Just a smidge more fun than shelf paper? Not in the hands of my sisters it’s not. And not when the party girl is a word nerd from way back. Every day I read articles about who was coming to town and I sifted and sorted through the options. Gluten-free food bloggers competed with celebrity chefs. There were local authors like Amy Sue Nathan and old friends like Billy Lombardo. Even Sting was on board with his Narrative Project. Then one day I came upon author Porter Gale who intrigued me with her “Your Network is Your Net Worth” take on entrepreneurs and marketing and other business-y matters. And despite apprehensions that it would trigger work thought, I added her to the list and even did the nifty little exercise she suggested. I shared the exercise with my sisters. (more…)