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. This year we thought it was high time to celebrate them and the OOAK was the perfect place to do so. Clare was an early devotee of the Humans of New York (HONY) experience and introduced her sisters to it. HONY is so similar in spirit and tone to the grass-roots work we do that we thought lawyers be damned – let’s do our version – the HUMANS OF LIFESTINKS. Even the folks who didn’t “get it” still enjoyed it. And for us it made for the most loving and supportive work environment we have ever created in public. We wrapped ourselves in a photo essay of support and it felt marvelous.


This year we were gifted with a corner. Traffic flow is everything – if you’re lucky. Here is one door into our booth.

Clare did the lion’s share of the work – and it was indeed a task for a lioness as she contacted folks asking for permission to use photos – even as she skimmed and scanned our files of five years, and their pages as well, looking for wonderful images. Ever the idiot about the technological and logistical demands of mounting a project like this, I freaked out when it only and finally came together at the VERY last moment. Translation: as it has been every other year at the OOAK we were told it was time to leave, then prodded and reminded to leave, then damn near escorted out the door by security guards at the Mart saying, “Ladies, you know we love you  – but you have to get out of here.”


Chairs are always a big part of our footprint because it’s all about the conversation. And at OOAK it’s all about shop ’til you drop – hopefully into our booth.

But as is always the case with big endeavors, it all got done. We had gathered way more images than we had even imagined and so it  had grown into a bigger project than originally planned for – but it was all good. It was better than good. It was great.  It strengthened us and reminded us about how hard we have worked and how many wonderful early adopters we had already connected with – WORLDWIDE. And so we stood there among the professional dancers, and the mountaintop climbers; among the florists and the wedding couples; among the doctors and the artists; the letter carriers and the circus performers. We stood among the amazing and brave and diverse and creative and generous HUMANS OF LIFESTINKS. A poster replicating the bestselling holiday coffee table sensation about HONY didn’t hurt either. Clare and our wonderful designer, Lisel Larson, knocked it out of the park.


During our four day pop-up we were visited by old customers, old friends, old neighbors and of course, the curiosity seekers – you make what?!?! We hustled and bustled among the stories of health scares the year had contained and answered questions and gave our presentation and wrapped gift packs and listened. Our dog groomer came by with congratulations on Boomer and a Christmas gift for him – even though he was so new to our family that she had yet to meet him. But she knew our dear Chester, and the sadness that the year had held, so she was not about to wait on ceremony to welcome Boomer to the family. Actually Boomer was quite the marketeer this year as we also got a wonderful visit from his one-month foster parents – the lovely family that had sheltered him while he withstood the rigors of Internet rescue and adoption.


We will always treasure Stew and Deb for sheltering our dear Boomer long enough for us to find him on the Internet. We even kept the name they had selected for him.

Some much-loved long-term supporters delivered sad news about health concerns that were very real. Hugs were shared – especially by me – the one who had blogged about the dangers and expensive consequences of hugging. The one who had vowed she would hug no more; only to discover that she was the biggest open-armed get over here for your crushing perpetrator of them all. But they were called for and doled out without regrets. Call the chiropractor next week. Today is the One of a Kind. And imagine the hug festival that ensued when I heard someone ask Annie if there was a Mary among the Duggan Sisters. Yep, I turned around to see a dear childhood friend I had not seen in forty years! We look now like our mothers looked then – or worse in my case – but the memories of afternoons spent playing Barbie dolls flowed as catch up stories got very quickly shared.  What a wonderful holiday gift.


How quickly the stories and laughter flowed when a 40-year gap needed filling.

And so we have another OOAK behind us. Another year of putting one foot in front of the other and facing the demands and the challenges of running a small business. A year that has ended each year, for five years, with a party at the Merchandise Mart. Yes, a party: with lots of work to be ready; lots of laughter; lots of stories; and lots of information shared about everything and anything we have learned about getting and staying well. And afterwards – lots of fatigue for lots of days (even weeks) as we share stories among ourselves and complete the work of 2013.



And that my dears is the deadly consequence of Triclosan still being included in your aluminum free deodorant!

Because when all is said and done and labeled and wrapped and shipped and sold and customer supported – it still all comes back to these HUMANS OF LIFESTINKS. These brave and curious souls who gave three sisters in their basement on the South Side of Chicago a chance to change the world – one chemically contaminated armpit at a time.


Every year awareness grows that we developed our orange and red cedarwood line specifically to address the needs of folks contending with candida albicans. Really!

And that is why we just LOVE our customers. And that love is what makes it all worthwhile – and definitely worth celebrating with one big party a year. This year we celebrated with photos. Hopefully next year we can share their wonderful stories, as well. Lord help Clare – another idea to bring to fruition.


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About the author:

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 to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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