What’s with the name already?

By Mary Duggan

The Duggan Sisters have had a ball with the name of our deodorant. For folks who don’t get it, perhaps a bit of history behind the naming of our lifestinks® deodorant would help. Here’s the first layer of the story. In 2007 we pooled all of our available resources to have a sophisticated website built to support the work of our home based healing center – The Rose Cottage in Beverly. We were amongst a handful of people trained in a very unusual system of Manual Lymphatic Drainage and we had lots of other healing techniques in our bag of goodies – from Raindrop Therapy and Far Infrared Sauna to Transformational Reiki and Forrest Yoga. Business was pretty good, but ever the worrier, Mary, was looking at a flagging economy and wondering how long we would survive the looming cash crunch; a website had gone from being a possibility to an essential. So, we gave a reputable designer our last resources and spent ten months working with him on all the site maps and video and text that underpin a website. The task was daunting and ultimately futile. The night before our “big launch” a casual email arrived from our designer with the simple message that he had “lost” our website – please call!

I know, I know, who in the world has ever heard of a lost website! Well, the Duggan Sisters have and for ten months we had to fight the good fight to retrieve our substantial financial investment – we got most but not all of it back. What we were unable to regain was the lost time; meanwhile the economy was going from bad to worse and our fears were mounting. In desperation we called our local parish, hoping to participate in a holiday fair that was just days away. We wanted to rent a table where we could stand and explain our work to the members of our community. No longer afforded the worldwide exposure of a website, we decided quickly to reach out to the multitude of needy folks within a five mile radius. The event organizers were open to our work and sympathetic to our plight but made it clear that the fair was for artists – artists with art to sell. But we are artists, I insisted. We are working in the healing arts and we make the world’s finest deodorant. We were in and in honor of the good name we had made for ourselves treating some of the sickest of the sick mommies in our area we were in with a discount and a really great location. Still, we could never have imagined that within days, in the gymnasium of St. Barnabas Parish, we would be launching our lifestinks® deodorant business.

We made deodorant around the clock for days; yet we sold out by noon on the first day of the fair. The Monday following the fair our phone rang off the proverbial hook with inquiries and orders for our ROSE COTTAGE IN BEVERLY LOVELY LAVENDER DEODORANT. We looked at each other and said, “It looks like we’ve hit a nerve and it looks like we’re deodorant makers.” Thus began the Duggan Sisters’ deodorant making information spreading campaign to change the way Americans think about health, perspiration, body odor, breasts, and the personal care products that make all the difference. Armed with a simple photocopy explaining the lymphatic function of the human breast we launched our “Don’t Be a Boob Campaign: get smart today about breast and prostate health.”


Oh, and the name, well the Rose Cottage soon gave way to the larger Duggan Sisters brand and our deodorant became lifestinks®. Never given to cynicism, our full motto remains, life stinks – but we make deodorant. Maybe you have to have held lots of dying mommies in your arms to get it. Maybe you have to try to explain death to their surviving children to get it. Maybe you have to hear staggering stories about misdiagnosis and misinformation and years of suffering to get it. Maybe you have to give your last dime to a web designer who loses your work and who explains himself with a snooty “whatever” to get it. Maybe you have to have faced a lifetime of bitter defeats, unjust outcomes and inconsolable loss to get it. Or maybe, as we think, the idea for the name was a gift from on high. Maybe you just have to stand in festivals and farmers markets and street fairs and social halls for the better part of a year, in every conceivable type of weather and turnout to really get it. You have to listen to the devastating stories of your fellow citizens hurting in ways that are unimaginable as jobs and health insurance and homes and marriages and hope itself are lost to an economic downturn that has nearly destroyed our nation. And maybe you have to convince them to believe again, to try again, to think differently, to call out the liars, to hold manufacturers and physicians and drug companies to a new standard of integrity. Maybe you have to ask them to trust you and the integrity of what you are trying to do. At least that’s what we did.

In all honesty we have had our moments of doubt, fears that we would look cynical when we are anything but. So, we had our label designer work with us on some new concepts, catchy new names and different labels and snazzy colors and across the boards we encountered a resounding NO, YOU CAN’T DO THAT! A resounding no from simple folk and marketing professionals alike that wandered into our tent, our booth, our stall, our folding table in the corner of yet another stinky gymnasium. No, no, no when we would propose other “happier” nomenclature. No, no, no – you are a product of these very times. You are on the mark and on the money with presenting a grass roots alternative to the corporate greed and lies that have nearly destroyed our country. Of course life stinks, life is unfair, life is organic and earthy and stinky in many of its finest moments of birth and death and rebirth. So make deodorant.

And so we did and so we do. We have enjoyed disarming unsuspecting folks in the most unlikely of places with our little campaign of truth telling and honest to goodness safe and effective natural deodorant in a can that you can refill. Many or even most times the bit of a giggle or more typically the deep and healing belly laugh that accompanies the reading of our product’s name is followed by a shared story of anguish and loss and resilience that motivates us to continue on our most difficult days. It helps us to push through ever-present exhaustion, financial terrors and David and Goliath fears to keep making our little deodorant.

So if you find someone curling their nose or looking askance at our in-your-face name be sure to remind them that some of the most dangerous products on the market are named for peaceful birds or whispered confidences and have no references on their labels to neurological devastation or lymphatic death. Let’s not be boobs. Of course it’s a terrifying mess that we’ve made of our world and our health. Let’s change it. Telling the truth is a great place to start. Life stinks; but the Duggan Sisters make deodorant.


Want to learn more? For more information on our Don’t Be a Boob campaign, click on the image below:


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One Response to “What’s with the name already?”

  1. Barbara says:

    Hey Duggan Sisters!

    Love your blog, your products and, of course, all of you!

    We are going to be doing a show in Rochester, NY this month and will be staying with a very dear friend who is a breast cancer survivor. I’ll be bringing some of your wonderful products to her. I know she will LOVE them!

    Will be in touch later this summer re our August “Art Girls”

    Unstinkingly yours,
    Barb (& Jean)
    the Weeners

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