We Mean Business.

lifestinks® deodorantWe knew when we stood up to the $17 Billion chemically-based deodorant industry that we were taking on a David and Goliath sized challenge. We were prepared for a fight and protected ourselves, our products and our Duggan Sisters® brand in every way possible. What we didn’t expect was to be undermined in our efforts by those who say they want green businesses, want women-owned companies, want healthy products for their family, want jobs for Americans.

Yet, some of those very folks have been spreading the most damaging misinformation about us.  Read on to hear Mary’s response to this ethical dilemma and to learn more about why WE MEAN BUSINESS.


Dear Jenn,

Guess what popped up on a Google search of bloggers talking about lifestinks® deodorant? You! Hey, I remember meeting you at one of our retail spa partners. You were getting a manicure while I was there working and I took quite a bit of time with you, explaining how our deodorant works. You identified yourself as a blogger and you promised me that if you decided to write about the Duggan Sisters you would let me know. Hey, you didn’t. No problem. I guess. I have read what you had to say and despite the compliments and links to our site you have given us a not quite fair shake. So, here’s some setting the record straight for your readers.

Actually no, we’re not.

Firstly, my sisters and I are not, as you wrote, into “hydrotherapy.” I am not even certain that I know fully what hydrotherapy is. Our actual credentials and training in Naturopathic medicine are clearly listed on our website. Our credentials are wide but our focus is narrow: the 75% of you that is water and how to keep it healthy.

God bless those who make their own.

Secondly, it turns out you’re in the mood to teach folks how to make deodorant and that’s great. My sister Annie and I applaud folks who want to make their own deodorant or soap or candles or lotions. However, we have been working with thousands of busy mommies and daddies for the past decade and we find that few of them have any desire to return to Little House on the Prairie skill sets. More often, they hound us for solutions and guidance in dealing with their children’s autism, learning disabilities, psoriasis, depression, behavioral disorders, explosive diarrhea in the 5th grade, that sort of thing.

Been there and done that.

Actually Annie and I have spent years and thousands of dollars training in all of those “Little House” skills and we spent years teaching women (free of charge) how to make their own deodorant. We did this in our capacity as lymphatic specialists at the Rose Cottage in Beverly, our home-based health initiative. We were endlessly frustrated that women rarely made the recipes we taught them; but I understood fully, they were simply too busy and exhausted to do so. Grabbing the toxic stuff at the drug store was more realistic. If they made the effort to get the natural stuff at the health food store they were totally frustrated that it never got the job done.

And so, we became deodorant makers.

In frustration, I began to make up batches of our humble little deodorant, a dozen at a time, and sell it to our clients at the end of their Manual Lymphatic Drainage session in hopes of keeping them away from both the deadly chemical products and the ineffective natural ones. Yes, we have done our share to teach individuals how to “do by self” but we found it was not impacting the health culture adequately. Further, many of those who attempted to make it on their own were not successful as they were unable to get sodium bicarbonate and were defeating the purpose entirely by using baking soda, which is laced with aluminum, though people rarely know that. Many were using improperly sourced oils that just weren’t up to snuff and so they were getting badly burned. You have to really know what you are doing when you are using essential oils in sodium bicarbonate, as it is not the easy trick of placing them in carrier oils or lotions. Extremely fine sifting is also essential to avoid burning, so I go berserk when I know people are trying to purchase only our refill bag so they can dump it into their powder sugar sifter or salt and pepper shaker, thereby exposing our powder to tin and the like. These cheats are always the first to complain that the product doesn’t work and I find that irritating.

Hey, that’s not fair.

Thirdly, I don’t think you gave your readers a fair shake in explaining up front our pricing to them, as I had taken the time to explain it to you. For parents too exhausted to make their own deodorant, lifestinks is a Godsend. However, being told completely out of context that it costs $27 is a real disservice. So, let’s share with them the information I shared with you while your manicure dried.

Go green and save green.

We are the only “green” deodorant on the market. We sell our dry powdered deodorant in a very high quality stainless steel decanter that is refillable. Our lifetime “keep it out of the landfill” decanter costs $27 and is filled with six months of deodorant. Many of our users report that the deodorant lasts more like 9 months and we couldn’t be happier. We make sure all consumers know that the less you use, the better it works. Many of our confirmed users get to a place of such healthy lymphatic function that they only need to apply every other day!

From $4.50 per month to $1.50 per month in 6 months!

But let’s work with the conservative figure of 6 months that we advertise. That makes our product $4.50 a month for 6 months. At the end of six months you turn to your one year refill bag priced at $18 and your price point then becomes $1.50 a month! I think this sort of price clarification (up front, not deep into a blog discussion) is essential in any discussion with consumers facing the severity of our current economic situation. We are among the most affordable deodorants on the market, but like many green endeavors much of the cost is front-loaded; but oh the joys of the benefits as time plays out and you just keep refilling. We encourage everyone to really study the prices when they pick up their next inch of deodorant. You might be surprised to know what you are spending to apply toxins to the axillary drain of your lymphatic system.

It isn’t easy being green, but we’ve had support.

Our green refill design is one reason why we were selected to be the keynote speakers at last year’s Green Family Festival. We are green on so many levels and have moved slowly and methodically to make certain that we are doing the absolute best we can with labeling and inks and containers and on and on and on. In December of 2009 we were identified by the State of Illinois at Chicago’s “One of a Kind Show and Sale” as their business of focus for 2010, when they realized how many green jobs we could create for the struggling citizens of Illinois. They, in conjunction with the Sustainability Institute at University of Illinois Chicago have inspired many extraordinary Chicagoans to donate their services to us to help us to launch this important green health product, this important education service, this endeavor that the citizens of Illinois can be proud to call their own, so we now have pro bono patent attorneys, corporate attorneys, industrial designers, and the like. Yes, we have been blessed.

Wait, there’s more 🙂!

Paramount to us in the designing and pricing of our product was that the entire family be able to use it.

  • As it is a dry powder formulation, there is no cross-contamination that is part of traditional roll-ons and crystals. We wanted Mommy to be able to throw one in the medicine cabinet and hopefully keep: the boys away from Axe; the girls away from Dove; and Daddy away from Mitchum – all in one fell swoop.
  • That is also why we came up with the concept of the stinkstick® deodorant booster. If someone needs what the toxic companies call Clinical Strength, then they can apply one drop of the booster oil to their armpit, before applying the dry powder, and up the odor coverage while still remaining on the family plan. The glass roll-on is very convenient and the oils within are the same high quality oils that saturate our dry formulation.
  • Don’t get me started on all the re-purposing mommies have done with their stinksticks. Let’s just say they are phenomenal all purpose healing tools for zits and bug bites and wound care, in general.

Not just for pits – mommies repurpose.

  1. It was smart Mommies who let us know how wonderfully our lifestinks deodorant is for clearing athlete’s foot and stinky shoes, long before podiatrists began calling for our foot powder formula!
  2. Flight attendants taught us how well it works as toothpaste when they run out of products while on the road.
  3. The ways in which smart mommies are using our product never fails to amaze me. The most recent repurpose I heard about was from a group of female medical doctors who said they use it to remove the intractable odor from their front- loading washing machines. They reiterated that at a price point as low as ours this sort of repurposing is so do-able.
  4. I myself love to sprinkle it in the sink following the use of my Neti pot as I know that I have just dumped lots of toxic waste into the sink and with the power of my deodorant sprinkled there I am not going to infect other members of my family who share the sink with me. The list of ways smart mommies use our products just goes on and on and on.

I am not a chemist and I do not play one on TV.

Moving along, Jenn, you unjustly presented me as chemically under-informed, because I am not a fan of the potassium alum crystal deodorant you use. As I said to you the day I met you at the spa, where we spoke while I worked and your manicure dried, I am not a chemist. I carry Advanced Certification in Lymphatic Wellness, with a focus on Breast and Prostate Health, through the Midwest College of Naturopathic Medicine – whew. Naturopathic medicine focuses on healing through herbal compounds, among other techniques, none of them chemically derived. I am not trained in chemistry and have never claimed to be. But, when world-class physicians like Dr. Mercola confirm what naturopathic physicians, and others have claimed for years; namely, that the potassium alum in crystals is dangerous and unhealthy I want to cheer. When I receive a call from Northwestern University’s Raby Clinic for Integrative Medicine asking to have a meeting with me about endorsing and selling our lifestinks deodorant, again I want to stand up and cheer. Everyone deserves accurate information about products so important in maintaining breast and prostate health and it seems that finally we are making headway after years of effort.

Let’s talk ethics.

I see that you linked your blog readers to our site, but I wonder if you truly read our story. Believe me, we did not set out to be deodorant makers; that grew organically from our larger endeavor. I think it is imperative to keep our product linked with our larger endeavor. Believing that you can preempt our recipe is not the ethical dilemma, (we know you aren’t able to and so does the US Patent Office) but separating our product from our story is to me an ethical breach. It is most certainly not anything one woman should ever do to another.

Sick and dying mommies started it all.

With the sort of work that Annie and I are trained in, we have spent lots of time with dying mommies. Why? Because by the time these women seek out natural or alternative treatments they have tapped out what the allopathic physicians are able to do, they have very short term diagnoses, they are very scared and they and their families know they are at the very end of their lives. So you do your best, and you drain their lymph and you prepare them for death  – we carry Advanced Certification in Transformational Reiki and are trained in special end stage care and procedures. Hospice workers constantly marvel at what we are able to offer in true end stage care.

They inspire our passion.

And you fall in love with these lovely dying mommies and their kids and their brothers and sisters and spouses and you spend lots and lots of time and you do lots and lots of it pro bono. And then you go to their wakes and their funerals and then for a year or so you go over and have dinner with their shattered families on a twice-weekly basis because you were the ones closest to them at the very end.  You anointed the dead body, you gathered at the bedside on Christmas Eve and sang Silent Night over the dead mommy’s body. You put on your special black suit that you wear for the funerals over and over again as the epidemic rages and your anger mounts. Anger that these intelligent, seemingly healthy, physically fit and now dead mommies were not given basic information about how to maintain healthy breasts. And so you make a decision. For Annie and I that decision became our DON’T BE A BOOB CAMPAIGN: get smart about breast and prostate health, today.

There is nothing elitist about cancer.

That campaign fuels all of the work that we do, not, as you write, the desire to make some sort of elitist product for wealthy women who hang out at spas having their nails done! We have worked 75-hour weeks for 3 years now, desperate to get our message out. We have worked outdoors in heat and rain and ankle deep in snow, clocking in 86 public shows in 2009 alone to market test our products, in addition to hand-making all of our product and building our business, spending lots and lots of time with our simple little diagram of the human breast explaining how the lymphatic system works and why the 75% of you that is water matters so much. Sometimes it led to a sale, sometimes it didn’t. The sale is not what motivates us. Getting out our message is what matters. Getting people into a really healthy and effective deodorant matters to us. Get women out of underwire bras and onto rebounders matters to us. Educating people about the importance of living food to create an alkaline and cancer unfriendly body matters to us. We can take on any “oxymoronic” language that offends you and clean that up after the mommies stop dying.

Back to your ethical dilemma and the 3 ingredients bit.

Now, regarding your dilemma about our three simple ingredients, I hope that the next time that you describe to your readers that a product has three simple ingredients you will give them the whole story. Tell the truth that your eyes bugged out when Mary Duggan took the time to explain the problem with aluminum laced baking soda to you and that you did NOT know this and that you now know it because of the years that she spent studying and refining her little product with it’s three simple ingredients and the time she took explaining all of that to you – whether or not you intended to make a purchase when your manicure had dried. Explain how many years it takes to build effective direct relationships with botanists and growers in New South Wales so that we can guarantee oil that is way beyond pure and tested. Explain how the Duggan Sisters went the extra mile spending years learning the fine tuning of working with types and strains and harvesting standards and proper shipping guidelines and the need for extracts and blends of Melaleuca oils to minimize the usual problems of burning and irritation that so often turn people off to tea tree products. Tell the whole story.

Then, explain the time and enormous expense of having a highly informative website and the finest after care program in the industry to guide people through the problems and challenges for many in transitioning to a natural deodorant. Tell the whole story about how many hours it takes to maintain those services. Tell the whole story about those three simple ingredients and the delivery system that has been described by individuals in the cosmetic industry as REVOLUTIONARY. Tell them that our product is trademarked and that we were offered a patent but declined. Share with them the full scope of the information that I took the time to share with you.

Can you teach them this?

I have absolutely no concerns Jenn that you can teach anyone how to take the three simple ingredients that you have in your kitchen to replicate OUR deodorant. Here’s why:

  • We put in a $7,000 HVAC system into our 105 year old cottage to guarantee that the air surrounding our products is the healthiest possible. How many mommies can make that investment in their deodorant making?
  • All of the water that touches our working life is filtered through the finest porcelain filtration system available worldwide and recommended by the US State Department for staffers exposed to some of the dirtiest water in the world. How many mommies have that in their kitchen?
  • This past year we took on our first deodorant technician to help us keep up with the growing demand. It took me 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 3 solid weeks before I had her adequately trained to make her first batch of lifestinks deodorant! Are you offering that level of expertise?
  • Additionally our employee has adapted to our strict guidelines by willingly changing her detergent, foregoing all makeup, changing her personal care products and even adding green smoothies (made by us and given to her at no charge) into her life to keep her aligned with our vision and quality commitment.
  • Our employee has signed NDAs up the wah-zoo-zoo, bounces daily on our rebounder, dropped 30 pounds and become a phenomenal deodorant technician and member of our lifestinks family. Here’s why?

There is a reason it’s called an artisan product.

Like the Duggan Sisters, she is an artist working in the healing arts. Yep, she’s an artisan. What is a loaf of bread Jenn but the three simple ingredients of flour, salt and yeast? In the hands of an artist it is phenomenal. In the hands of a non-artist it is something banal and tasteless. In the hands of a chemical purveyor it becomes Wonder Bread. It’s all in the artistry; and the Duggan Sisters are world-class artists in the creation of the ultimate deodorant experience for citizens worldwide who truly love their health.

Finally, here comes the good citizenship part.

As we have grown and developed this simple healthy green product, our vision has expanded to develop this from an actual cottage industry into something much larger that can actually create jobs for our fellow citizens who are suffering the realities of unemployment and foreclosure. Here Jenn is where the question of citizenship comes into this discussion. Here is what I think it trumps any and all “Little House” initiatives.

Unemployed mommies and daddies matter to us.

As we have stood in public for the past three years, interacting with thousands of our fellow Americans, they have shared their stories of financial hardships, and deadly diagnoses. And when they couldn’t afford our deodorant, they often walked away with our product at no cost, a gift from the Duggans. When I listen to people’s stories, they are concerned about deodorant but they are despairing over the need to work, the fear that they will lose their home, the agony of not being able to afford medical care for their sick children. That responsibility is what keeps me and my sisters awake at night and ever on the go to meetings with bankers and meetings with lawyers and meetings with the State and meetings with real estate brokers and meetings with retailers. If all of those meetings go where they need to go, in the end there will be jobs. Too many of my middle aged male head of household neighbors have come knocking at my back door wondering if they could be paid minimum wage to help me make deodorant for me to use my time in any other way.

Lifestinks when you don’t have a job!

Think of the jobs we can create. Three sisters, 75 hours a week for three years, in their basement, making a natural deodorant that is now on the shelves at the 5 Diamond Kohler Spas, Merz Apothecary, the Palmer House Hilton, for God’s sake, Northwestern University’s Raby Clinic for Integrative Medicine, 17 Whole Foods Markets in Illinois and numerous independent stores. Consider the fact that we never contacted Kohler or Northwestern or Whole Foods. Yep, that’s right. Our retail partners have called us because so many people had been talking to them about these crazy sisters who make a natural, refillable, effective deodorant in their basement. We have 300+ other doctor’s offices, healing centers, & health foods stores nationwide on waiting lists wanting our deodorant. People are clamoring for a safe solution to this most human of all needs.  Think what three committed and exhausted women can do! Let it take your breath away. It takes ours away. Better yet, support it. Think of all the jobs that will be created! Think of the healing there is in that. Think of all the inspiration there is in that.

Woman to woman, ethically speaking.

Finally Jenn I hope you will continue to think long and think hard before you undermine the efforts of women who have the audacity and vision to build a business in the depths of a dark recession; women who are creating jobs for the citizens of Illinois. We have completely self-financed our business, cashed in our pensions and savings, lived without salaries or spouses or health care coverage or any leisure time whatsoever to keep our message alive. We are now three sisters (yep, a third one jumped into the fray) who used to live in three homes, and drive three cars and now we share one home and one car and one big dream.

In the Duggan household our motto remains the same: ENOUGH WITH THE PINK, LET’S THINK. Isn’t a focus on early diagnosis insulting? Isn’t it time to get really smart about actual prevention with concrete, affordable and not terribly time consuming efforts that men and women can do on a daily basis to prevent disease and foster vibrant health? To that end, we have put forward our lifestinks deodorant and our full program for lymphatic recovery and wellness.

Let’s keep cyber space clean and fair.

And Jenn, while we’re at it, let’s commit to a cyber conversation that tells the real story. Story matters to the Duggans. Our site is full of stories. Please encourage people to read them. Go to our website to view video testimonials of individuals who have given our products a chance (that means actually purchased them) and are singing the praises of lifestinks deodorant.

I hope you will have the ethics and integrity to post my response to your blog so that your readers are given the fair shake that we were not. I will most certainly be posting it to my blog. And this time, please send me a notice that I am being discussed in cyberspace. It is imperative that misinformation, disinformation, and incomplete information be nipped in the bud before the cyber conversation gets so muddled that it is hard to get back to the truth. It’s a question of ethics, isn’t it? Kind of like saying, hey, I use and defend a crystal deodorant that some of the finest medical minds in the country think is dangerous; but how’s about I show you how I think I can replicate/copy/pilfer/steal a natural deodorant made by three women who actually know what they’re doing and have mortgaged their lives to bring to the marketplace. This just doesn’t make sense to me, ethically speaking, that is.

Make whole the nation.

So Jenn, let’s keep the green focus clear. Let’s keep our critical eye on the chemical purveyors of deadly products and actually support the grass roots efforts of real Americans trying their level headed best to make whole our nation with jobs and products we can all be proud of. The next time you’re at one of our retail locations, Jenn, why not pick up some lifestinks® deodorant and participate in the healing of our economy and our nation. Or better yet, order from our website. I will be looking for your order to come through.

Kind regards,

Mary Duggan
Duggan Sisters


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