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DTC vs Retail; Decision Making Frameworks & High-Value Content over Product Related Content with Branch Basics Co-Founder Kelly Love

This is Kelly Love for Female Startup Club. It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! Today we’re doing a follow up episode with Kelly Love, co-founder of Branch Basics. We first had Kelly on the show in January 2021 and it is a wild story - I highly recommend a listen to get the full back story!

In this episode we’re chatting through Kelly’s biggest lessons over the last 15-ish years when it comes to her decision making framework and social media and content.

If you love this as much as I did recording it, be sure to let us know by sharing it on Instagram or dropping into our Facebook group with 4000 other like minded female founders and small business owners.


As entrepreneurs, especially in the early stages, you’re starting to learn how to make decisions. Only with the power of hindsight can you identify what’s a good decision or a bad decision. How did you go through decision-making processes?

We knew that we would not be able to grow the business with the product that we had at that time. We got into a situation where we started manufacturing with one other person, but there were all sorts of disastrous things happening and the people we were working with. We weren’t in a place where we could defend ourselves because we didn’t own our formula and we didn’t manufacture it. In hindsight I’m so grateful it happened, because otherwise we wouldn’t have had the confidence to go out there and create this formula on our own. 

We went out on a limb, we shut down, went through a really challenging time of letting our employees go, telling our investors we were shutting down. If it hadn’t been the three of us (founder) I don’t know if we would be here today. If one of you is down, the other can help and pick you up.

Choosing to be (and stay) DTC - how do you approach that decision? Is it a discussion that you go through every time a retailer comes knocking? 

There have definitely been temptations along the way, and we’ve been approached by different retailers. We would have to re-think our product-offering. We like DTC because we can explain our product. We can show how it works. We would need to really invest in an education piece around retail. We have been really diligent about keeping our heads down and staying focused around growing our DTC-channel first. Growing that awareness - so that when we go into retail we feel ready and confident. Retail can be the single biggest risk, and also the single biggest reward. We want to make sure we are ready and it’s a totally different infrastructure requirement from our team. You shouldn’t underestimate what goes into that. We know we’re not ready for it, and that there is so much more potential and opportunity that we have with DTC and that retail will come in the future - but we’ll know when we feel ready. 

Debate and really think about how we are going to approach retail? Amazon or straight to Costco? One of the things that’s really important to us is the customer relationship, and even with Amazon you lose a lot of that, so we haven’t been quick to jump on that train. We’ve always been passionate about our mission and what we believe in, and we believe we have such a valuable mission to share. We know that the education and message that we have to share can change lives and we’ve never doubted that. So knowing that we have the ability to educate and share that information DTC is what has kept us there. And we’ve really wanted to make sure our products are ready before we go to retail, and for that to make sense on the retail shelves. Really give it the time and the thought first, so it will continue to fit our standards. To the point: we want to get our product offering really, really nailed down - before we go into retail and we take that risk. 

It’s two separate businesses almost, you require different teams and logistics and operations.

I would always recommend going with DTC. We own that customer relationship and we have the ability to grow our following in so much more of a way that retail shelves don’t offer. We view ourselves more as a lifestyle brand, and that’s creating our loyalty. There are a lot of advantages on top of the margins and the logistics that comes with DTC. And the ability to test things out more quickly, and with lower risk. We’re big believers in trying to prove the concept before we prove scale. 


Our community really filters through into our social media content. As far as TikTok and Interest and Pinterest goes. Instagram has been our platform that we’ve gotten on for years and gotten confident with now. We want to share what we do because we want to help people - and I think people can tell that it comes from a genuine and authentic place. We view it as getting on and sharing our lives, and have never had much of a strategy away from that. We’ve been trying to find the balance between being a brand and influencers. We don’t really want to just be influencers, but also have the brand have its own standing. It’s amazing to see the growth in our community when we jump on and share lifestyle content. Really beautiful buttoned up perfect feeds aren’t going to see nearly as much engagement and following as the ones who have the real-life kind of feel to them. We’re moving away from polished, people want the real stuff. 

ADVICE: Get on there and share yourself, don’t outsource it all to a team. Get on there, be real, be authentic, share the struggles, share the wins and connect with your audience. Ask them what they’re thinking about a product you’re thinking about and engage with them. We can get wrapped up in all the day-to-day business stuff. I have seen the value when I do take that time to get on. What I got burned out about is sharing the things that didn’t feel resonate or they were things I didn’t really want to say. If you impact just one person, and you speak to that person and help that person, it’s so powerful, and I think that makes it less scary. The views of our content that’s about healthy lifestyle is SO much higher than talking about our product. So I’m an absolute believer in bringing in a bigger purpose and message. Think about your own consumer behaviour on social media: what do you want to consume? Find other buckets of content that you can be talking about. 


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