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, Lee Joselowitz was formerly Head of Growth at Ritual and growth marketing advisor to DTC darling brands like Our Place, where she discovered first-hand gaps in the DTC space – both on the consumer and brand side. She decided to fill them by co-founding The Quality Edit alongside her friend and colleague from Ritual, Lauren Kleinman and their Editorial Director and co-founder, Scott Silver.
I’ve been writing for TQE since the early days, and recently realized that I didn’t know all that much about Lee’s experience pre-TQE. Luckily, I had the chance to ask her. Below, she catches me up on her past, present, and future. (Insert Lee’s South African accent when reading her responses.)
I’d love to start by learning a bit more about your background. What inspired you to create TQE?
My entire career has been in the e-commerce space; most recently I led growth at one of my favorite DTC brands, Ritual. During my time there, I became even more obsessed with the direct to consumer landscape. As a DTC veteran and avid online shopper, I felt overwhelmed with the fast growing surplus of DTC brands and products to choose from without a trustworthy voice to help discover and vet the very best. So, I decided to fill that gap and launch The Quality Edit with my co-founders. Our goal was to build a publication where discerning consumers like ourselves could not only discover the coolest brands, but also learn the story behind them, their ethos, and what makes them unique.
Can you describe the experience of launching a brand?
It’s been a whirlwind two years since our founding during the depths of the pandemic. Like so many other companies launched during that ominous chapter, the silver lining of suddenly being home with nowhere to go gave us the space to take a chance on ourselves and pour all of our energy into creating something truly out of nothing. Slowly but surely, one review at a time, we built the foundation of the site you see today. Alongside our incredible team of full time employees and a roster of amazingly talented editors around the country, we’re delivering valuable content to our readers and amazing performance for our brand partners.
And we’ve stayed true to ourselves throughout the journey – building a brand and voice that we would want to consume ourselves.
It’s also a very humbling experience that requires a lot of patience, problem solving and living outside of my comfort zone every single day. Navigating the complexities of a pending recession in an uncertain macro environment makes it even more challenging, but we’re enjoying the journey and have so much exciting innovation we can’t wait to reveal later this year!
What about the DTC space excites you?
The DTC space is growing so quickly and as it grows, the bar for success gets higher and higher. That also makes building The Quality Edit so exciting – there’s a definitive need for an authority in the space to filter down the options with that high bar in mind.
Just when you think every category has been ‘DTC’-ified, an inspiring new product comes across our desk that reminds me we’re just getting started. The next chapter of the DTC story will play out now in a very competitive environment – investors are expecting a return to profitability and consumers can sniff out BS products right away. I can’t wait to look back in a few years and see which ‘winners’ emerge from this chapter.
The ever-evolving consumer journey also excites me. Customers used to shop exclusively in retail stores, and then there was a major shift to direct-to-consumer, and now the most successful DTC brands also have retail strategies. To add to the mix, we’re starting to see marketplaces online and IRL along with one-click checkout on social media platforms and publications become a bigger part of the shopping experience. There’s still so much room for innovation on how consumers discover, vet and shop brands, and we hope to be at the forefront of that.
When you’re shopping for products personally, what do you look for in a brand?
I’m a sucker for convenience. A poor shopping experience that takes up more of my time than necessary is one of my pet peeves – another reason why direct-to-consumer speaks my love language. One of the first things I look for is: How seamless is the shopping experience? How are the customer reviews? How is the customer service? What is the return policy? Once a brand has passed that litmus test, I’ll proceed to learning more about a brand’s products and the stories and people behind them.
A well crafted brand (packaging, unboxing experience, website + social design) doesn't hurt either.
Are there any trends in the ecommerce space you’re following?
A trend we’ve been following really closely at TQE is creator driven commerce. Consumers have been turning to influencers and creators to discover and shop products for over a decade, but it’s taken longer for the end-to-end customer journey to adjust accordingly.
TQE is evolving the online shopping experience by bringing creators and editors’ long form content and education more deeply into the customer journey. We collaborate with relevant creators to help share brands’ stories, educate consumers with long form editorial, and in some instances, enable one-click checkout on the editorial itself, shortening and simplifying the online shopping experience. We’re just getting started on this but are excited to keep iterating.
I’ve also just recently entered the ‘Web3’ rabbithole and as I learn more about the space, I’m convinced there will be room for DTC brands to bring uniquely differentiated value to consumers in a democratized, decentralized way. That said, don’t hold your breath for a TQE NFT quite yet…
What dreams and goals do you have for TQE as you continue to grow?
We want to be THE go-to source for discovering and vetting the best online brands. We want to evolve and simplify the online shopping experience for our readers.
Near term, we continue to deliver incredibly high quality content to our readers every single day. We continue to invest in our content team to bring diverse and talented voices to our pages, and that high bar for great content really drives everything we do as a company.
You’ll also see us invest in a refreshed brand look-and-feel in the coming months, complete with a new website with improved functionality to make discovering and learning about new brands even more enjoyable.
We also think there’s an opportunity for The Quality Edit to be a trusted voice for modern consumers across other verticals. We dream about not just helping discerning consumers decide what to buy but also where to travel to, where to eat and where to be inspired. You can find us dipping our toes in travel recommendations with our newly launched column, Late Checkout.
Maybe you’ll see some TQE exclusive product drops one day, too.
What are each of your five most-used products right now?
- Ritual vitamins and plant-based protein in smoothies for simple healthy habits.
- Our Place Pan for easy cooking and easy cleanup – plus it looks so pretty in our kitchen.
- Eight Sleep Pod Cover for a happy marriage if you and your partner have different temperature needs while sleeping.
- Umbrella and pool towels from Business and Pleasure that make my backyard feel like a boutique hotel.
- Riley home spa bath towels – I didn’t know I could love a bath towel so much. These towels bring me joy daily.
Thanks for reading our interview with Lee! Have a founder you’d like for us to interview? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.