Archive for the ‘For the Record’ Category

Aloha, President Obama!

Monday, January 16th, 2017


Chicago, January 15, 2017.  We have decided to share with you a note that we, as business women, wrote to PRESIDENT OBAMA.


Dear President Obama:

I know it’s more than a bit audacious for 3 home-based, natural-deodorant-making sisters on the South Side of Chicago, to compare the modest achievements of their 8-year-old business to the historic 8-year presidency of Barack Obama, but with all due respect, here goes:

  • President Obama, like you, we are grounded in the South Side, in its people, its problems, its crime, its culture, its cadences, and its resilience.
  • Your roots are in community organizing in the neighborhoods of Chicago’s South Side. And from those humble and honest roots you worked your heart out and earned the privileges and responsibilities of the highest job in the nation – that of being our President and the Leader of the Free World.
  • The Duggan Sisters pivoted from a home-based healing center, to manufacturers of natural deodorant that has sold in every state in the Union, to every branch of the U.S. Military, and 25+ foreign nations. We did it by joining forces, living simply and collectively above the shop, pooling all of our financial resources, and working hours that ruined our social life and damn near our actual lives. We’ve advanced from selling our lifestinks deodorant in farmers markets to launching our brand in health food stores, medical clinics, spas and prestigious department stores. We’ve developed from one simple can of deodorant to 25 SKUs.
  • Perhaps most importantly,  have joined you in making a very real commitment to addressing climate change head-on and preserving as much planetary beauty and health as possible.
  • Your milestones are enormous and the future thanks you. Ours are more modest; but, we’re proud nonetheless. Because our lifestinks deodorant is sold in a refillable stainless steel decanter (not a traditional plastic stick or roll-on) we have, during the last eight years, eliminated the creation, use and disposal of 509,547 deodorant containers! That is carbon foot printing that we and our customers can be immensely proud of – a real and measurable gift to the planet.


Burr Ridge Farmers Market, Summer 2009

Burr Ridge Farmers Market, Summer 2009

It is not, sir, that we compare ourselves to you; it is that we were inspired by you. And when the chips were down, really down, we were more than once saved by you.

  • When a major chain of stores recruited us and then bullied and betrayed us, we lost, overnight, not only the bulk of our business but almost our home, as well.
  • Fortunately, you had put in place the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and so with tremendous amounts of due diligence and not a few tears we saved our home and held on to our business, as well.
  • We learned what we know about wellness from addressing and finally conquering very real and scary health issues of our own. That expertise became our business; but when our sister Annie stumbled on the stairs one bitter winter evening, on her way ironically to a charity event, she broke her leg, foot and ankle. Because she was not insured she was able to get only the most rudimentary, painful and horrible of care. All that we knew of preventive medicine and the responsible and healthy lifestyle we led mattered little after that terrible fall. What mattered is that we were not insured. The jeopardy we were living in and our sister’s suffering haunts us still.
  • But now, despite very serious pre-existing conditions, paired with our very meager entrepreneurial incomes, we’ve been insured for almost 3 years. Thank you, President Obama for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a cherished, critical, imperfect and indispensable part of our lives, and the lives of 20 million other Americans. There because OBAMACARED!
As I said, we got our start in the farmers markets, standing for hours outside, often in the worst possible weather. But shoulder-to-shoulder and tent-to-tent with farmers, cheesemakers, and nuns who baked bread, we launched our brand. We didn’t know or care if we were addressing Democrats and Republicans. We just wanted to get folks excited about taking responsibility for their own health with the switch to natural deodorant being a critical first step.
Bloomingdale's Launch, NYC, Spring 2016

Bloomingdale’s Launch, NYC, Spring 2016


Everywhere we turned people were discouraged: losing jobs, homes and confidence in themselves. And so we preached a bit too as we sold our deodorant, reminding anyone that stepped under our tent, that we were all Americans, all in this together and all going to come through this deep recession intact. We tried to infuse them with the deep and real enthusiasm we felt from your historic Presidency. We were inspired  to make and take to market the finest deodorant in the world. And we wanted them to take some of that enthusiasm home with them into their own lives and challenges. Every day we would tell whomever would listen, that we were in alignment for success because we’d entered the B.O. business at the very same time as a man bearing the initials B.O. had become President of the United States.  Our stars were in alignment! Miracles were happening! And we were a part of a great rebirth. Americans are such good people that they even chuckled and said okay, as we hooked our modest dream to one of the biggest ever American success stories – your Presidency.

Eight years later, Mr. President, more than a bit banged up, and definitely a lot more grey, we still believe in your message and your mission. You’ve withstood bitter and unfair criticism; but more importantly you have won the world’s highest accolades and maintained your grace under fire. We’ve won a few accolades, as well. Taken a Best in Show or gotten a shiny piece of press coverage. But the praise that we heard, on many occasions, that matters the most to us is this: at the end of listening patiently to our sales pitch about lymphatic wellness, chemical overload, and the importance of natural deodorant in maintaining a vigorous immune system, men and women from all over this country have smiled at us and said, and I quote, “You girls are really something. Does the President know about you girls yet? And what you’re up to? He’ll be so proud when he does!”

When life gives you lemons, make...

When life gives you lemons, make…


And that comment, Mr. President, heard repeatedly, does indeed place us historically right where we are so proud to be – among the legion of weary and worried Americans who picked themselves up and dusted themselves off and followed your lead into a new era for our nation. So today, President Obama, I say Mahalo to you, for all you have done for our nation and all you have done for our small family and business. With respect and gratitude I look forward to watching your influence in the years ahead, as a citizen of this great and beautiful nation. And I hope and pray that out of the corner of your eye you will see a little deodorant company, built by 3 sisters on the South Side of Chicago, who will never ever give up on our audacious dream of creating a world class product that we can offer to heal both people and planet. Our motto remains: From The City That Works Comes A Natural Deodorant That Actually Works. Not exactly Chicago: The City That Gave Us A President; but it works for us.


So from 3 fellow Chicagoans, and 3 fans forever, Mr. President, we say Aloha to you and your beautiful family. We’ve got some stores in Hawaii selling our products so we know that Aloha means love. And that Mr. President is what we extend to all of you. Aloha and Mahalo. Love, respect, and gratitude.


The Duggan Sisters


Mary, Annie and Clare




Enough With the Pink, Let’s Think

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

By Mary Duggan

Just when I thought the Pink Campaign couldn’t get any worse, it has. Here in Chicago, Advocate Health Care has created a 16-foot tall, 1500 pound, hot pink underwire bra sculpture and they are taking it, and their “Stories of the Girls” campaign, on the road for the month of October. Brace yourself, it may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you. If it comes to my neighborhood I will be there to take a selfie with THE BRA and then I will share it with you. I will be in the forefront making a negative hand gesture (no, not that finger) – a thumbs down actually – and posting it to my facebook page. Thumbs down Advocate. I refuse to take the bait. You are not warming my heart; but you are most certainly making my blood boil.

bra chicago

The “Get a Mammogram Every Year” squad will be there to counsel you when you go to see the bra.

Here it is October and like so many women I have my hands full (more…)


We Need Your Help to Survive

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Chicago, August 21st, 2014
Dear Loyal Lifestinks Customers,

We have searched our souls. And studied our spreadsheets. And we have made a necessary and long-anticipated correction to sustain our business. We have changed a problem with our refill bag that we have lived with for five years and can’t live with any longer. We need your understanding and support.

Here’s the problem. Our refill bag says it’s a 12-month refill. In fact, it’s an 18-month refill. We realized our miscalculation ages ago – a novice misstep as we transitioned from Farmers Markets to store shelves.  Unfortunately, repairing it required thousands of dollars we simply have not had.  But, we can’t sit on this price disparity any longer. Not if we expect to remain in business.

Plastic tablecloth. Homemade labels. Parking lot of the bank. Summer 2006. Humble beginnings. Great big dreams.

Here’s our best solution. Our lifestinks decanter holds a 9-month fill. It costs $27 or $3/month to get started. Our new refill bag is now a 9-month refill and costs $18 or $2/month to use on a go-forward basis.  We believe that to be a phenomenal price point for this important product. A simple review of the math as you stand in any store, or review any online site, will confirm what we are – a very reasonably priced product – unique in the marketplace but priced to compete.

You have embraced our revolutionary product for many reasons. For some, it is the non-staining factor, for others it is health concerns, for everyone, we hope, it simply works better than all the others. Whatever your reasons, we appreciate your support. Chemical deodorants cost dimes to make – ours cost dollars. But we believe you are fully aware of the differences and value our ability to stay the course.

We hope that you will continue to support our brand and show our retail partners that you understand our dilemma. We never set out to be a bargain basement deodorant. We set out to create the finest deodorant on the planet; and the healthiest deodorant on the planet. And the only environmentally sound refillable deodorant that protects both you and the planet. We are refillable; but without this change we are not sustainable.

The critical change that we have made also addresses another very real threat to our sustainability – product piracy. Folks early on identified what a steal our refill program has been and so they have stolen from us. Pirating is the industry-speak for the problem; not a pretty word for not a pretty practice. How so?

Bargain hunters have bypassed our decanter entirely and dumped our refill into their own receptacles. This has created untold customer service problems for us as a brand. Imagine when someone puts our ultra pure product, which cannot be exposed to light, into glass salt and pepper shakers. Yes, the product and our brand reputation are both damaged. The same goes for low-grade sugar shakers that are aluminum – not stainless steel – again, product contamination and brand degradation not to mention very real health consequences.

Please know that we have altered just this one part of our brand – our first and only price change in five years. All other price and portion structures remain the same. But in making this critical change we have guaranteed our brand’s integrity and future. So please, stop in and visit our retail partners, both brick and mortar, and online, and show them you understand. These folks are in the front line each and every day helping us to pioneer this very young brand. Knowing that they have your approval and support for the changes we have made will go a long, long way.

We trust in your understanding and we ask for your support. We have worked hard to gain your trust and we will continue to work hard to retain it.  The best we have to offer the marketplace and the planet is the ongoing production and sale of lifestinks deodorant, lifestings bug repellent, and the full line of Duggan Sister products. Our commitment remains what it has always been: Healthy People, Healthy Products, and a Healthy Planet.

Thank you.

The Duggan Sisters
Mary, Annie and Clare



From Shark Tank to The Biggest Loser

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Can these two brands make beautiful music together? Time will tell.

By Mary Duggan

Shark Tank warns you repeatedly that at any point, even following filming, you can be eliminated. And you think you have registered the concept. But what you have really registered is OMG we are going to be on Shark Tank. (more…)


FINALLY, We Can Talk About Shark Tank

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Can these two brands make beautiful music together? Time will tell.

By Mary Duggan

It’s finally over! But, talk about emotional whiplash.

Our experience with the Tank did not end following our casting call in Chicago last spring. We got the call back. We just couldn’t tell you. Secrecy is a big part of the Shark Tank experience. What happens in the tank, stays in the tank. We understood. You all thought we’d gotten eliminated. We hadn’t. We actually got the call back even sooner than expected.

Moving to Part Two was exhilarating and followed by INSANE amounts of really hard and time-consuming work. But we completed the assigned tasks and put it all in a box and mailed it to our charming Casting Producer. It weighed over 13 pounds. And again, we got the next call back sooner than we’d expected.

Before we knew it (more…)


Tickling Mr. Wonderful!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

By Mary Duggan

Okay, Facebook followers you guessed it. We took the big leap and participated in the Shark Tank casting call held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. And the word for today is EXHAUSTED! Imagine standing in the middle of all those dreams and all that excitement and all that fear and even some desperation.  And that was just the three of us!


The rain held off and the air was scented with flowering trees. Check out our beautiful city in the background.

The warnings had been stern from Shark Tank that (more…)


Ding Dongs and Flu Shots

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Sister Mary Catherine.
Vocation Day 1964.
Daughters of Charity.



Sister Mary Catherine has her own take on the flu shot debate. Never one to shy away from controversy, Sister Mary Catherine ponders the shot-no shot dilemma and asks the question most of us are just too embarrassed  (or educated) to ask:

“If flu shots are ineffective and Twinkies deliver the same toxic load, then can I skip the flu shot and just have a Twinkie instead?”





By Sister Mary Catherine


Flu shots give me the heebie jeebies. They just don’t make sense to me; and I have personally witnessed some serious and permanent reactions that would make anyone swear off them. One memory involved a very young man in a brand new wheel chair being pushed by his shell-shocked and betrayed mother. I had the doctor appointment following his. When I questioned the doctor about what I had seen, he gave me a deep sad frown and said simply – flu shot aftermath.  I wonder which part of the flu shot recipe caused his lifelong debilitating injury?

This is one recipe I don’t recommend:

“Before you vaccinate for the flu, you should understand what is in the vaccine. (more…)



Friday, April 27th, 2012

I have resented having to write about this, but it seems I must. I think you, our treasured supporters, have a right to know why our products went from selling strong in Whole Foods Markets in a three-state radius (“flowing well” in WFM terminology) to being “discontinued and ineligible for reorder” on February 15, 2011.  Withdrawn under circumstances so mysterious that countless WFM staffers have turned to US for an explanation!

I wish I could say that the WFM decision was a shock, but it wasn’t. An all out offensive against the Duggan Sisters brand (and the Duggan Sisters personally) had been going so full throttle for so many months that it had felt inevitable for quite awhile. Of course, we wish we had beaten them to the punch; but what small family business in its right mind would close 18 accounts that it had dedicated itself to building for the better part of 17 months. Actually, the “better part” cannot be said of those months. Some of the worst experiences of verbal abuse, coordinated deceit, butt covering and all around misogynistic bull crap comes closer to the truth.

A neighbor who happens to be a lawyer and social worker who had her own experience with the WFM ethos when trying to defend the rights of a developmentally disabled WFM employee captured it spot on, we think, when she looked us straight in the eye and said, “They’re just a bunch of misogynistic PR*#%S, don’t you think?” We couldn’t agree more.

We would deeply appreciate you reading our account of our grassroots endeavor’s doomed encounter with Whole Foods. Please know that the Duggan Sisters are more committed than ever to bringing you the finest, healthiest, most environmentally responsible and lymphatically sound deodorant we know how to make. Whole Foods Market “doesn’t like us.” We believe you still do and so we continue to make our products and sell through the finest ethical retailers worldwide and direct from our little cottage, as well.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Stay tuned.


Mary Duggan  

Click here to read to the whole story of the Duggan Sisters doomed encounter with Whole Foods.



Duggan Sisters Attacked by Whole Foods Thug

Friday, April 27th, 2012

By Mary Duggan

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

by William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697

As a young woman I entered into a really sick marriage. Well educated, meaningfully employed and facing a red-hot future, I walked head long and innocent into an abyss that derailed me – heart and soul – for over 14 years.  I know from abuse. Exposure now to interpersonal toxins registers with me physically: a bitter, metallic taste fills my mouth; my solar plexus swells and painfully tightens. My reaction is visceral, insistent and king-sized. I have successfully healed on many levels from that experience and I have painstakingly steered clear of abusive relationships ever since. I never imagined that business partnerships could so easily replicate the abusive model I had so struggled to overcome. Boy, was I wrong.

Our first kiosk and a supportive team leader. High hopes on DAY ONE.

In March of 2011 the Duggan Sisters loaded our lifestinks® deodorant products into our first Whole Foods Market, led an inspiring and informative training session for the staff, and filled a kiosk with our treasured products; an environmentally responsible and lymphatically sound deodorant system that represented the combined efforts of the three of us for the better part of a decade. When the kiosk finally looked as perfect as we could possibly make it, I turned to a stunned Clare and said “I have to get out of here NOW. Please, get me out of here!” On what should have been one of the happiest and most fulfilling days of my career, I was having THE REACTION and I was having it strong.

I am so powerfully attuned to abusive energy that I knew in one day what it would take our company collectively 10 months and a lot of anguish to comprehend. Many the bride knows the feelings of doom I was experiencing. They know they are making a terrible mistake; but, for a myriad of reasons, they walk down the aisle anyways. My journey this time was down the grocery aisle; but surviving and recovering from marital abuse gave me the insights and frame of reference I needed to identify the same beast in a new role. (more…)


What’s with the name already?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

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 (more…)