in the workshop

whatever happened to fun?

if you've ever stopped by the store on a monday or after 5pm any other day of the week, you might have been annoyed that we are closed. see what had happened was.. running the business for long hours seven days a week was just no fun. it's also unsustainable, and pragmatically speaking, unrealistic. shopping as recreation is out. working seven days a week is ridiculous. nobody needs the local soap store to be open all the time. it's easier to keep our prices low when our overhead isn't eating up all our resources. besides, knowing what we know about climate change, global resources and economic trends, how can the world possibly sustain at previous levels? the easy answer is that it won't.

the thing most never think about when it comes to their local small business is trajectory. growth, growth, growth usually leads to debt, debt, debt. it's the american way. which means that 75% of all small enterprises will close leaving proprietors with a mountain of debt that usually takes decades to pay off. ask a business owner how it's going and they will invariably tell you things are "wonderful! best year ever!" and in that same vein there is no end to the falacious excuses about why the business failed. but the simple truth is that some shit works and some shit doesn't. it's also about reach and grasp. betting on the future, or more likely, betting on a future that looks like the present or past almost never works out. we've been there. and done that.

a successful center city store should translate easily, right? a store in haddonfield. a salon. a yoga studio. they were all great endeavors and some made us money but they all sucked. mostly because we did what we thought we were supposed to do. what our society tells us we should do. to grow and grow and grow. military pilots report "no joy" when an attempt to acquire a target is unsuccessful. these failed attempts were, for us, simply "no joy". imagine how sad we were while it was all occuring yet so happy to have offloaded everything before 2020 when covid came knocking. we have the thing we value most: coming to work together at duross & langel.


so here comes 2023

regardless of what happens here in america, a global recession is on the door step. to think it won't affect us is to blind oneself to the many sign posts along the path. regardless of what the fed continues to do to cool the economy, the way in which the world works continues to change and everything still costs more. a storm of things we've never experienced before continues to disrupt production, supply chains and goods in the marketplace. we all feel the squeeze. at duross & langel we are choosing to view both our long and short term future through the lens of sustainability.  the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

so who knows where we will be as a business in ten years. who really cares? "can we pay ourselves? can we pay the bills? are we having any fun along the way?" those are the important questions. everything else is just noise and ego.

of course things will change when we lock the doors on the 13th street for the last time, and while we won't know what will come until it does, nothing in life ever really stays the same anyway. our mission (if that's still a thing) is to harness the best bits of our business and to build upon them while endeavoring to have a great deal of fun along the way.


Is Center City Safe?

Safety is subjective. Our feelings of safety inform all of the decisions we make. If you watch the local news in the morning, you might begin to get the feeling that Center City has become one great big crime scene. While this has not been my experience, perhaps it all depends upon which corner you are standing, and at which particular time of day.

While I don't feel unsafe in Center City, I have become more aware about where I walk, prefering to travel busier streets or taking an Uber. I often take the trains in and out of Jefferson Station/Reading Terminal and feel very safe. I share this because it has become a conversation with customers, friends and people who live/work in the neighborhood. 

I hope you will consider coming back into town and bringing your family for the light show at Macy's and for Christmas Village at City Hall, and of course, everyone at D+L looks forward to your next visit for the last holiday at the 13th Street location. We've rearranged things to the point where you can browse and touch and smell everything easily. I must acknowledge however that the number of people you will see living on the streets, living in crisis and/or suffering severe mental illness has grown exponentially. Casualties of city, state and federal governments that claim no responsibility for the most vulnerable of our citizens. While a level of unquestioned acceptance seems to have settled upon Center City, we still encourage everyone to support local agencies that feed, house and care for the homeless.

As almost everyone knows, we move in January to 11th Street in the Washington Square West neighborhood. As shopkeepers, duross & langel is a happy, busy, low stress way of life. We are excited about the change of scene (and about street parking for our suburban shoppers) while also honoring the opportunity we've had to build our business on 13th street for the past 15 years. Immediately after the holidays we'll be getting rid of everything we don't want to move. Which is considerable. Bookcases, tables, benches, decorations, lighting, etc. (that includes many D+L items that were over-runs, one-offs and discontinued items). It's all gotta go. So please mark your calendars to stop by after Christmas, before the New Year as we begin to pack up to move out. And if you find yourself on 11th street between Locust and Spruce, we hope you'll check out our new spaces - workshop (244 S 11th)  and store (240 S 11th) and glimpse what the next seven good years at duross & langel will be. Cheers.


phthalates and cancer causing ingredients

if you are a long time D+L shopper, you might have noticed all the changes we’ve made to our line over the years. while we have high standards for all duross & langel products, you may not know that for years we have struggled to find fragrances in our industry that do not contain ingredients known as phthalates. phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body's endocrine system. phthalates are used in many mass manufactured products to make the scent last longer on the skin. so when people tell us they wished our scents were "stronger" or tell us that our scents don't "last" on the skin, it is because we don't use phthalates in our products. we believe that these substances should be banned world-wide and since 2008, when we began reformulating our products to be sulfate-free and paraben-free, we also banned phthalates in all our fragrances. we have also excluded any materials with similar health concerns, including those on the E.U.’s ban list, and materials that are known carcinogens.

historically the cosmetics industry has never been transparent about safety. a lack of disclosure from fragrance manufacturers regarding ingredients and possible health risks was the norm. almost a decade ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, adopted and began enforcing labeling requirements from the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). this set of GHS requirements requires the disclosure of potential hazards of a substance in a commercial facility, and for purposes related to shipping. while not designed for fragrance or skincare safety specifically, it was an opportunity for small manufacturers like us to demand more information about the materials in our fragrances and other ingredients that might be considered questionable.

the information we obtained about these materials, the effects they have on human health, was the catalyst for broadening our perspective as to how we operate as company. both in the workshop and in the store. given our massive exposure to the materials we use during the production phase, please know that there are four material groups we do not allow in our products

  • carcinogens – materials known to cause cancer

  • mutagens – materials that change the DNA of a cell and cause disease

  • reproductive toxins – toxins that adversely affect reproductive organs and increase risk of birth defects

  • organ toxins - toxins that can cause adverse effects or disease

as we continue to observe, identify and investigate ingredients, we will continue to safely improve what we create. we are always open to discussing any concerns you might have, and will offer sources of empirical data to help you in making the best choices for you and your family.

because sarah and i skew toward unscented and essential oil products, we offer all duross & langel products NAKED (unscented). our "essentials" line uses only pure, non-chemical, unadulterated essential oils to scent the products, and we offer a wide range of custom scented products for anyone who wishes to choose their favorite essential oils to custom scent our products.