We are so excited to start a Q&A series today on the blog with the founders of Branch Basics– a toxin-free, completely clean cleaning brand that we love. Today we have Allison on the blog, next month we will have Kelly, and then the following month we will have Marilee. These three ladies all have incredible stories of how detoxing their homes + living a holistic lifestyle have truly impacted and changed their lives. We are so thankful that they teamed up together to develop Branch Basics– a now staple in our homes. We are so inspired by their passion in clean living, their faith in the Lord, and their vulnerability in sharing their stories with us. Also, great news! Branch Basics is offering a promo code for LSK readers. Use code LSK20 for 20% off at branchbasics.com. Enjoy Allison’s Q&A below!
Tell us a little bit about how Branch Basics got started + your relationship with Marilee & Kelly!
Marilee is my aunt and Kelly is my best friend (and both are my daughter’s godmothers!). Kelly and I lived together in college, where she witnessed my mysterious onset of debilitating pain and neurological symptoms that stumped the country’s best doctors. After two years of drugs, diagnostic tests and medical treatments, I was still suffering. At that point, I had ears to hear my Aunt Marilee, an environmental and dietary consultant. She explained how our bodies are made to heal, but that removing toxins from what we eat, breathe and put on our skin is crucial to that God-given process. Kelly’s and my interest was piqued when, within a few months, my symptoms drastically decreased. We were approaching graduation and felt called to spend the summer with Marilee in the Texas Hill Country to soak up her knowledge before starting our careers. Little did we know!! Within a few months of eating only real food and living in a home completely free of harmful chemicals, I was a walking testament of the “power of pure” – off all medication and virtually symptom-free. The transformation was nothing short of a miracle (Kelly also felt the effects…no more cramps, itchy eyes, etc.), and as a result, we shared a burning passion to help others experience the same. Within a year, Branch Basics (based on the verse John 15:5) was born.
Share a little bit about your experience with PCOS and how a clean lifestyle really helped your struggles with that condition.
I was a senior in high school when I sought the help of a world-renowned fertility specialist because I hadn’t had a period since my first one in 6th grade. My sonogram – later shown in a medical textbook – revealed thousands of cysts on each ovary, and I was diagnosed with one of the worst cases of PCOS my doctor had ever seen. The only answer was to be on birth control until I was ready to conceive, and that I’d never be able to conceive without the most advanced fertility treatments.
Fast forward five years, I had adopted my newfound “clean” lifestyle for over a year when my fiance encouraged me to get a sonogram. Although I still wasn’t having a period, he had seen my health transform and was convinced my ovaries had followed suit. Having had the doctor’s dismal report ingrained in my head since high school, I wasn’t as optimistic. But upon receiving the scan, the doctor (who had been too booked to see me that day) rushed into the room holding my sonogram next to the original in disbelief. I had reversed my PCOS, having only a few small cysts on each ovary. He wanted to know what I had done and what medicine I had been taking. When I explained that I had gotten off birth control and ditched toxic home/body products, processed food, refined sugars, and bad oils, he was shocked and asked me to speak to PCOS support groups at his clinic. (Interestingly enough, his NP who had prescribed the birth control in high school, is very passionate about natural healing and reached out to me after reading my fertility journey to find out ways their fertility clinic can implement some of my lifestyle tips to address PCOS. How great is God!?)
If you are comfortable with sharing, give us a little bit of insight into your personal story with becoming pregnant and how a toxin-free lifestyle impacted that journey.
Having proof of the power of this new lifestyle, I knew my body was headed in the right direction and that my period would come back. Often the reproductive system is the last to repair, as it exists to usher in new life and is not vital to our survival. It’s no wonder, as the body should be in good health before conceiving a baby!
We began working with Dr. Dittman, author of Brighton Baby: A Revolutionary Organic Approach to Having an Extraordinary Child). He coaches couples on how to conceive, birth and raise children naturally, and has helped hundreds of couples reverse the trends that our existing diet and lifestyle have led to: an exponential rise in autism, ADD/ADHD, birth defects and infertility. Will and I were ecstatic when just six months of taking supplements and implementing some dietary additions, I had my second natural period, 12 years after my first. Because our choices in the perinatal period directly affect the fetal brain development and overall health of our future children, Will and I continued working with Dr. Dittman to completely normalize my cycle and further strengthen our health. When our vitamin and mineral levels were optimized , we were ready and conceived our daughter (surprisingly!) easily, just as Dr. Dittman had predicted.
Through the journey that you outlined above + the journey of starting your own business with your two-co founders, how did your strong faith play a role in it all + how was it impacted by everything?
Simply put, this story wouldn’t exist without my faith. Depending on the season of my healing journey (the dark days following the bright ones were hardest), my faith carried me, pushed me on, kept me from spiraling, picked me up when I did, and gave me hope for healing. I would call Marilee when I was feeling overwhelmed, bursting in tears when I heard her voice. She’d launch into speaking Truth over me, reminding me that “by His wounds we have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24), that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Neh. 8:10), and that despite what the world and my body is telling me, I am able to rise above and take the Spiritual viewpoint on my situation. Had it not been for my faith, I would have given in, seen the doctor’s prognosis as ultimate truth, taken the path of least resistance…and I can’t help but think it would have involved continued pain, increased medication and infertility heartache.
What makes you most excited about the future of Branch Basics?
More than ever before, people need the information and story of hope that we are sharing. We never set out to sell soap, but to use our products as a vehicle to educate people on the transforming power of a clean diet and lifestyle. I am beyond-words excited for the day that Branch Basics is a household name, because that means so many people will have been empowered to make changes and choices that will positively affect their health.
As a mom, what new wellness challenges have you faced + what are your top 5 clean mom/baby products that you swear by?
Gosh I’d say my biggest challenge is finding the right baby + business balance. It seems there’s always something to be doing and different directions I can be pulled. But the saying “too busy not to pray” is so true. While time spent in the Word and seeking His peace and direction is time away from work and family, it never fails to center my compass and put everything into perspective.
As for clean mom/baby products, I may be taking this in a different direction, but these are really the few products I use for Sloane and me: Branch Basics, of course. It’s used all day every day on all things cleaning and laundry. Next, an organic mattress is one of the best investments you can make. Conventional ones are a main source of exposure to toxic chemicals, especially for developing infants who spend so much time sleeping. Naturalmat is our personal favorite. AustinAir makes the best air purifier on the market, and Sloane and I each have one in our rooms. We also each take a vial of Quinton daily, a seawater mineral supplement that contains all the minerals that the body requires to function optimally. (I can’t recommend it enough for those struggling with fertility issues.) We also each take Restore, the best product for gut health I’ve found.
What originally made you passionate about clean products and clean living?
I got well when I started using them! No one could have convinced me that ridding my diet and environment of toxins would eradicate thousands of ovarian cysts, open up my endocrine pathways and enable me to easily conceive a perfectly healthy baby. I now fully grasp that the things we choose to put in our mouths, rub on our skin and use in our homes can serve to nurture our bodies, enabling us to heal, or rob us and prevent us from moving forward.
Besides Branch Basics of course, what other clean brands do you love? They can be home, beauty, or anything else!
I truly use my own product more than any other out there, simply because it does so many things, from removing stains and to removing my eye makeup! However, some of my other everyday clean brands are Primally Pure and KEYS skin care, W3LL People makeup, Premier Research Labs food-based supplements, and PACT lounge/workout wear.
Can you share a little encouragement for people who might be feeling overwhelmed about purging old, toxic products + replacing everything with clean alternatives?
It may seem hard to throw out our “perfectly good” products, especially if they’re costly and not near empty. However, what’s harder is keeping them around, knowing they contain ingredients that are working against our health. It’s a mindshift, really, and it helps to think of throwing out toxic products as freeing versus restricting. Because, the truth is, this one step is the most important in creating a healthy home, which can save money that might later be spent on doctor visits, medication and missed workdays. The ultimate preventative healthcare! 🙂 It’s important to not get overwhelmed, but to determine your priorities, and begin making changes as you are able.
We are so thankful for your openness about your personal story and are beyond inspired by it!! What do you hope people take away from reading about your experiences?x
I am so honored to be able to share my journey with your readers. My hope is for people to realize that we have more control over our health than we likely realize, and for that to be empowering, not overwhelming. Our bodies are strong and beautiful and have the God-given ability to heal. Every effort you make toward creating a healthy home will be a step towards strengthening your immune system and enhancing your (and your family’s) health.