in the workshop

Stepping Into The Unknown

The other day I was chatting with a man about vaccinations and what comes next. This is, I imagine, the same conversation people have been having all over the world since last year's lockdowns began. March 2020 to March 2021 feels like a loop that we've experienced alone. Together. A mass disruption event beyond what almost anyone would have imagined. While not a year I will look back upon with undiluted pleasure, many amazing things have come my way in twenty-twenty, and there are lessons I hope to carry forward into the years ahead.

When we moved to 13th street fifteen years ago, I was in the midst of chasing a dream about making awesome products. I wanted people to know about us for sure. Visibility meant opportunity. For me success was about the quality and efficacy of the skincare we made. If we got that right, money would follow. Then my ego began listening to all the people who were compelled to should all over my plan. You should open a larger store. You should open two. You should make sample sizes for hotels. You should wholesale. You should become a lifestyle brand. I appreciate that the noise and excitement people were compelled to share came from a beautiful place, but rarely does the larger conversation become about what makes us happy. Is money the key to happiness? What constitutes success? Who are we trying to please? And each time we step into the unknown, what is it we hope to find?

For Sarah and myself, this last year has peeled away all the preconceived notions about what we should or should not do. We followed our gut early on in the pandemic and pivoted into a position that will propel us into the next fifteen years. Breaking free of the main street model, twenty-twenty has proven to us that having a thriving, self sustaining business does not mean slavishly chasing after every dollar, open morning until night 365. The last decade and a half was about building our brand. All of the past stress, pressure, debts, successes and failures are now balanced by a sense of calm. The next fifteen years will be built by trusting in the process we have already created. Finding success in our own sense of happiness while continuing to work on the brand we love.

There will be many among us looking to go back to the old normal. Expectations that somehow the world will go on as before. But I imagine there will be many who will be longing for something richer. Deeper. A fresh perspective on how we live into the next decade of our lives. There is more room for amazing and wonderful things to occur when we are offered a fresh perspective.

Sarah, Alli and I look forward to welcoming you into our reimagined shop on May 5th, 2021. Belly up to the scent stations to sniff out your favorites and discover our newest scent blend creations. Sample the skincare, scan the shelves for new and favorite products, or peruse the colorful soap list on an ipad. We are also very excited to chat about how you can make your own custom skincare creations right online. Sure, the doorbell will need to be rung, masks worn and a limited number of people coming in at a time, but we have recreated the experience to be more personal. One on one. And while some might find the new situation a little bit disappointing, the old model of shopping (at least at duross & langel) is a thing of the past. The former shop hours are in the dustbin. In the process of navigating the last year or so, we have surrendered to the process. Our goal is to be better over more. Quality over quantity might mean a bit less coin, but at the end of our lives who is going to say "I wish I had worked more hours?"


Life is fickle.

If twenty-twenty has taught us nothing else, we all might consider that while we like to imagine a measure of control over our lives, in reality we have very little. The most we can manage is our reaction to the people and situations we face. How we show up in the world says everything about us. The way we act and react speaks volume on a person's character. Our ability to listen, to forgive, to move beyond the petty annoyances shows our humanity in its clearest form. I sometime wonder when the world began to equate kindness with weakness? In reality nothing could be further from the truth.

The background noise of American life is one determinate of how we show up.  Growing up the background noise of my life was Broadway and Motown. For many of my generation it is now the sound of a television with a twenty-four hour news cycle that demands fresh drama at every turn. A voracious verbal beast that will always find or create bedlam where none exists. 24 hour news channels have fundamentally changed the world in which we live, and the way we speak and act to one another. Raised voices, talking over one another and a sense of urgency about almost every story. Pandemic or politics, the surety that "I am right and you are wrong" has been the theme of this year. Will twenty-twenty-one be any different? Sure hope so.

We hope we have succeeded in touching your life in a positive way this year. While aspects of our attempts to order our world may have frustrated some, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And it looks as though our walkup, pickup system won't be changing any time soon. A conscious choice that has served us well. While it limits the ability to generate pre-pandemic income, it continues to allow us to look after ourselves and our business in an intentional way. Splitting the difference is often the kindest way forward. Rather than pretend to normalize what is surely not normal, we choose to move in a new direction. A direction that will steer our course for many years to come.

After 15 years, we've learned a thing or two. Adapt or die is surely one of the more important lessons. Change is a fundamental part of life. Nothing can stay the same. Balancing the old and the new is a challenging and exciting proposition, one that drives us daily and brings us joy. Managing our expectations allows us to continue to thrive and grow, even in challenging times. Often people ask how we are doing. We are fine. We are pivoting our business so that it may thrive for another 15 or 20 years. Here are some facts you might not know. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year. By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail. After 10 years, the survival rate drops to approximately 35 percent. It only continues to drop from there. We've been around for some time because we know how best to proceed with our enterprise. While various local businesses approach operations with a variety of models, we focus less on what others are doing and pay attention to what works best for us. To date it has been working very well.

Sarah and I want to thank you for your kindness, compassion and support in this year of massive change. As we look forward to the coming year, and many years beyond, our goals are still the same: To live a well balanced life of work and play, to continue to create awesome bath, spa and skincare, and to find a permanent home in a building we can call our own.

Whatever twenty-twenty-one has in store, we will be here.

F*cking Covid

3 minute read

For the last few months we've made every effort to populate our site with great 24 hour deals beginning every Sunday night at 8PM. The response has been incredible, often selling out within a few hours. This is gratifying on several levels, not the least of which is our ability to connect with our customers virtually. Monday Deals specially created to target every taste at every price point.

Unlike most retailers who mark up the price of products and then slash when they have stock they can't move, our natural hand made products are always in small batch production. There are no leftovers. No marked up items to fool you into thinking is a markdown sale. In year's past we would offer a one day 20% OFF Sale before the holidays as a thank you. At this time, 2020 - The Pandemic Edition doesn't allow us that luxury.  To maintain our business we now ship most of our sales. The $7. flat fee is less than 40% of our shipping cost per box. Free shipping on order over $50 is roughly 20% off the entire sale. We don't mind any of it though. We do our part to keep our business and the economy going. We will though have to skip offering store wide sales for the immediate future.

This pandemic continues to blow. Hard. The hospitals are filling up again and while we all have varying views on what constitutes being safe, we are, each of us, trying to find an equilibrium. Calmly carrying on to make the best of what life is currently handing us. While some are opting for travel, most of us are staying put. But that means layoffs at the airlines, aircraft and parts manufacturers, hotels, restaurants, retailers, etc. The dominos are only beginning to fall because the stimulus money being used by Main Street American is drying up. This is not a political statement. It is a stark reality. Let's face it, American retail has been slowly dying for a very long time now. The internet is the mall of the future. The pandemic only serves to shine a light on this fact, and to hasten the inevitable changes. Is more stimulus money going to be the answer? No one really know for sure. Only guesses, (mostly by talking hairdos that almost never come up with viable solutions). So Sarah and I continue to wake up each day and happily come to work. To continue to find new ways in which to engage our customers. To build our business outside these four wall. To grow. To survive. To thrive. To be self-sustaining. To be grateful.

Last night the streets of Philadelphia were filled with revelers. Folks who were celebrating democracy in action. Regardless of personal political views, we live in an amazing country that allows many different types of people and personalities an opportunity to run the show. Whatever side you fall upon, let's celebrate that. For it is our diversity and the promise of opportunity to all that defines the American experience.

By now most of you have stopped reading, but if you're still here.. thank you. While we would love to shout about what you might buy from us, perhaps this year we could encourage you to make a greater positive impact in the local community. Spend a little less on swag this holiday and donate to those in need. The local food pantries, elder care centers and churches that are doing real work for those most at risk. This year duross & langel will be donating a percentage of our holiday sales to Mama Tee Community Fridge Fundraiser to feed folks who are food insecure. We encourage you to see the good works these folks are doing. If you can help, please reach out to them. If you are in need (as we all may be from time to time), don't hesitate to reach out for assistance. We are all in this life together.