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Founder Feature: Marilee Nelson, Allison Evans, and Kelly Love

For the chemically sensitive, cleaning can be more than a chore – it can trigger symptoms ranging from inconvenient to life-threatening. Texans Marilee Nelson, Allison Evans, and Kelly Love, founders of Branch Basics, are intimately familiar with how toxins in the environment can wreak havoc on personal health.

Witness Marilee. She was able to avoid dialysis and a kidney transplant by educating herself on the use of food as medicine. She took that can-do attitude and applied it to healing her 10-year-old son, who’d had a catastrophic exposure to pesticides. Doctors told Marilee that her son would never fully recover, but having healed herself, she made it her mission to find a way forward for her son. For him, that meant living as toxin-free a life as possible. 

Allison, Marilee’s niece, experienced her own chemical sensitivities after moving into a newly built apartment building. Chronic pain and loss of motor skills plagued her and baffled physicians. In desperation, Allison moved to Marilee’s home and embarked upon a similar, toxin-free path, and her symptoms cleared.

Kelly watched her best friend Allison’s life change for the better, and decided to give the whole clean living thing a try. She became a convert when she realized she’d never felt better in her life.

The trio had been focused on healing their own and their lived ones’ lives, but were passionate about spreading the message. Armed with the energy of their personal revolutions, they decided to go into business together. 

“We didn't set out to sell soap. We transformed our health by removing harmful foods and products from our everyday lives and discovered there was a lack of truly safe, effective cleaners,” explained Allison. “We realized that people were completely overwhelmed with all the changes to creating a healthy home (water filter, organic mattresses, air purifiers, etc.), and cleaning was a well-received, easy first step. But there were no cleaning products that actually worked and met our safety standards.”

“So we created a toxin-free formula that works, and it's our vehicle to educate and empower everyone to take control of their health so they can experience the life-changing power of pure like we have.”

 “We went through hundreds of formula iterations, testing on stain after stain, grease and all kinds of messes, to make sure that it works, because effectiveness was paramount,” Kelly added.

Launching a mission-oriented, product-based service is laudable, but not easy.

“I don't know if anything can really prepare you for the reality of entrepreneurship!” Marilee says. “But I’ve always had the determination to figure out a way, even when doctors or society told us something was impossible.”

Which leads to the best advice Marilee has for her junior cofounders and women everywhere.

“Even though it may feel like you aren't qualified, don't believe the lie! It's totally okay to learn as you go. Women want to learn and buy from other women they can trust.”

Katelyn Murphy-McCarthy

Katelyn is a writer and editor specializing in creative nonfiction. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and loves hearing and sharing the stories of women who are making a difference.
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