Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…
Before TQE, Lauren Kleinman was on the founding team and former VP of Marketing at DTC health company Ritual. There, Lauren recognized the power of having trusted sources help tell a brand’s story through quality, evergreen editorial content. When Lauren left Ritual to start her consultancy Dreamday, she realized traditional media outlets were not focusing on the direct-to-consumer brands she loved to personally purchase and review.
Together, Lauren and her co-founder Lee Joselowitz created The Quality Edit to provide a trusted place where customers could learn about and be inspired by the most buzzworthy DTC brands. And while I’ve been writing for The Quality Edit since the early days, I’ve been curious to learn more about Lauren’s experience and the concept behind the company. Luckily, I had the chance to catch up with Lauren and chat about her past, present, and future…
What was the biggest thing you learned about growing a DTC brand while at Ritual?
LK: At the end of the day, product is everything. Ritual’s CEO (a mom of three!) was laser-focused on making the product the best possible end-to-end experience, and the entire team obsessed about every detail. We listened to customers and iterated on the product quickly to make the changes they wanted to see (and even surprised and delighted them with new features they came to love).
When people look at Ritual on the surface, they might think “Wow, that’s a beautiful brand.” Aesthetics aside, it’s so much more than that. It solved a real customer need for vitamin-takers looking to simplify and streamline their experience by providing a more transparent option with better, higher-quality ingredients. The most validating stories we got were all of the ways the product actually changed people’s lives and habits around vitamin taking.
What inspired you to start The Quality Edit last year?
As frequent online shoppers, Lee and I noticed new products and brands emerging in the DTC space almost daily -- and we had no trusted source assessing these brands for things we consider to be really important, like quality, design, aesthetic, and ethos. We launched TQE to be that source so that shoppers can spend less of their time hunting for products and more time simply enjoying them.
Beyond curating and reviewing products, we try to tell a brand’s holistic story–yes, our readers want to know if the products work, but they’re also curious why the founders set out to embark on their mission, what the company supports and stands for, what their ethos around sustainability looks like, and more. Learning these details also adds a feel-good element to shopping.
When you’re shopping, what do you look for in a brand?
I live and breathe direct-to-consumer brands. I personally look for brands with a really beautiful aesthetic, a strong story to tell, coupled with an amazing product.
I think that people can tell the difference between a strong brand versus an everyday ‘bland.’ The brands that are going to have real longevity are authentic, original, and really solving for a customer pain point–they intimately and innately know their “why.” Those are the brands I’ll be loyal to in the long run, and the ones I wanted to make sure whose stories were told on The Quality Edit.
What trends are you excited about?
I’m obsessed with DTC marketplaces and how publishers are starting to own the relationships with the customer. We’re really excited about the potential for one-click checkout at The Quality Edit and making the purchasing experience as seamless as possible so you can purchase amazing brands directly within our content without ever leaving the site.
I’m also really excited about disruptive business models like Italic and Beauty Pie that are shaking up entire industries and providing incredible value to customers. One of our editors recently dove into that new business model, and it’s fascinating.
Where would you like to see The Quality Edit in the future? What’s the long term goal?
We’re looking to pioneer commerce-driven content (which is where we believe publishing is going), and serve up the highest-quality content covering the DTC ecosystem. We are growing our team and launching new features to make the shopping experience seamless to our readers. We’re also expanding to various new verticals and audience niches where we’ve seen demand from our readership.
What are your five most-used TQE featured products right now?
Thanks for reading our first founders series interview with Lauren! Have a founder you’d like for us to interview? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.