• Business Business

Startup focuses on the basics by prioritizing toxin-free ingredients: 'The power of removal is incredible'

The co-founders plan to do additional trial runs in three different locations later this summer.

The co-founders plan to do additional trial runs in three different locations later this summer.

Photo Credit: Branch Basics

The secret to success for the fast-growing startup Branch Basics isn't just the team's popular non-toxic cleaning products that they say "kick ass" — it's the content and community they've built around a healthy home and lifestyle. 

And now they've launched an even bigger social venture — all caught on camera for social media — to prove that the non-toxic life they champion really works to reduce chemicals and microplastics in the body, with significant results even in 10 days.

For over a decade, co-founders Marilee Nelson, Allison Evans, and Kelly Love have been leading the charge around "clean living" through Branch Basics' wellness center blog, social media presence, community Slack channel, and their signature "Toss the Toxins" course to help consumers learn how to remove harmful products from their home. 

"We are most passionate about educating people. That's why we started," Evans explained. "The three of us had zero business entrepreneur background … but we were so heck bent on sharing our stories and what worked for us and educating people on … how to choose safe products to create a healthy home, that we needed products to actually be a vehicle for that message."

In a conversation with The Cool Down, Nelson, Evans, and Love take us through their new 10-day detox program and their journey to build a product line that gets people back to basics.  

☢️ What does a 10-day detox get you?

For the past 14 years, Nelson, Evans, and Love have been showing people all over the U.S. how impactful living in a non-toxic environment can be. Now they've set out to show measurable results by launching a "10-Day Detox" program — partnering with functional medicine provider and nurse practitioner Taylor Dukes to collect and analyze health data tied to toxin removal. 

"We wanted to do a boots-on-the-ground version of all of our education and our course that we have online — our Toss the Toxins course really put into action," Evans said. 

While they know it's a far cry from a more scientifically sized sample group — something they intend to scale up to, they said — they started by enlisting a family friend who had chronic joint pain to show how "toxicity can be drastically decreased in just 10 days."

The team created a toxin-free hotel room, making sure all their friend's bedding, towels, clothes, personal care products, and even food were organic and non-toxic. "We really thought about everything and supported her body with gentle detox," meaning "no intense treatments or protocols … or any expensive thing. It was literally just the power of removal," Evans said.

And her results after 10 days of living toxin-free?

Love said they checked the levels of several chemicals in her body before and after and found significant drops in substances such as glyphosate, BPA, parabens, and phthalates. Many of these chemicals have proven links to cancer and are endocrine disruptors, and Americans are often exposed to them in their daily lives. 

And the friend also reported relief to her joint pain, too. "She is pain-free," according to Love.

"As soon as you remove [these chemicals], the body's going, 'Thank you. I can now do the job that I want to do,'" Nelson said. 

While this was a small sample size without a true control, the co-founders said they plan to do additional trial runs in three different locations later this summer to expand their data, and eventually, they hope to establish at least one permanent location where they can offer recurring stays to their community members.

🥣 Origin story: "toxin soup"

The story of Branch Basics is guided by personal experience. Each of the three co-founders has had their own journey to get to clean living. 

Nelson says she avoided a kidney transplant by using food as medicine, and she later nursed her son to health after injury by removing all harmful products from his diet and environment. He had become extremely sensitive to chemicals following a brain injury from pesticide exposure. 

"I realized … all Americans are living in a home that's a low-level chemical soup — or high-level because of the products they use in their homes," Nelson said.

For Evans, she was diagnosed with PCOS (a hormone disorder that can put women at higher risk for complications during pregnancy) in high school, and she experienced chronic, mysterious pain in college. After staying with Nelson and eating only real food and using safe products, she says her cysts disappeared and that she's since gotten pregnant four times.

And for Love, "I was the 'healthy' one, and I just was fascinated by everything that we were learning from Marilee [Nelson]. ... I was like, of course this makes sense — what we put in, on, and around us every day. Of course it would impact how we feel and our current health, not just our future."

Similar to Evans, after Love lived with Nelson in a home free of harmful chemicals, her headaches went away, and so did her dry itchy eyes, muscle aches, and menstrual cramps.

The three of them realized they had to share this information. "We don't want anyone to say, why didn't someone tell me? And these things are just so simple," Love said. "We made it our mission to make it cool and normal to want to live in a healthy, non-toxic home."

Ultimately, Love told TCD, "our cleaning products are just a vehicle to help get this [information] out to the world."

🧽 First easy step: Ditching the harmful chemicals 

"One of the things that we keep telling people in the efforts of creating a healthy home," Evans said, "is get[ting] out all of your toxic cleaning products. And that seems to be this common denominator. Everybody cleans. It's an easy first step. ... And so we wanted to provide a solution to that kind of gap in the industry."

"This is a whole point of our mission," Nelson added. "The simple thing and the most important thing that we have to say is that the power of removal is incredible, and it does not cost any money to put products in a box and remove them from their house. … The turnaround is so quick, and the improvement is dramatic."

"We are really big about empowering people and not making them feel like they have to purchase something or make these huge investments," Evans added. "It's really quite simple, and we really hope that people can see it as an opportunity and get excited about how easy it really can be to make room for your body to heal."

Think about it like this: "If you step on a tack, you don't leave the tack in and go to the doctor — you remove the source. And that's what we're all about … helping people [to] simply remove these stressors and create a healthy home," Love said.

❓ Where do I put the toxic stuff?

"We always recommend people look up Earth 911 and just type in their zip code and take these products to a safe disposal site or hazardous waste site or recycling center," Love mentioned, "so that we're not just further polluting the Earth by putting all of these products down the drain."

🤝 Trust first, product second

Beyond all the information and guidance Branch Basics provides, it also sells a highly popular variety of non-toxic cleaning products, from laundry detergents to hand soap to trial kits, and it has "60,000-plus people on subscription now, which is really exciting," Evans said. 

"The key to our success, honestly, is that we don't try to push our product, because that's never what we've been about. And so I think it's about education, which builds a community, which builds trust," Evans said. 

"And then when you put a product in front of people that trust you, they're going to buy it. And then our product just kind of works. I mean, it kind of kicks ass."

The company started by catering to the chemically sensitive — like Nelson's son — and then expanded to a wider audience. "If we can have the standards of the chemically sensitive and the canary in the coal mine … the Earth is going to benefit from that. And so we have always said that our standard is going to be putting human health first and knowing that that is what's best for the environment, because we are so sensitive."

📣 Listening to customers — no, really

"We prioritize our customers, and we don't just say that," Evans said. "We will always get back to every direct message. … A lot of them are testimonials about removing stains, but a lot of them are testimonials about a child's behavior shifting or being able to keep a pregnancy after multiple miscarriages.

"And so we believe that everybody needs to be heard, even if it means that it requires more resources on our end. And this is one of those journeys that I think people really want to not be alone. They want to sense that community."

That direct line to customers is so important it's come at the expense of breaking into big-box retail. Branch Basics has remained mainly direct-to-consumer, "but I can't tell you how tempting it's been over the past decade to go big," Evans said. "But we would lose that relationship, that connection we have with our consumer and that community that we've built."

🗣️ Anna Robertson conducted this interview for The Cool Down. 

🧼 If you'd like to try using Branch Basics products, you can get 15% off the starter cleaning kit with this code: THECOOLDOWN.

The Cool Down may receive a commission on purchases made through links on this page at no cost to you. Price and availability are subject to change. Learn more about our Product Mission here.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider