Is Your Personal Brand On the Right Side of the DTC Tidal Wave?

Learning to Surf

Kala Philo
4 min readAug 20, 2020


Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

Direct to Consumer is fast becoming Direct To People.

Maybe you knew that.

Have you considered the implications of it for your positioning? Well, think fast, my friend.

Along with remote working, a drop-ship lifestyle, and Zoom meetings, DTC is one of those trends that was gathering momentum in the global economy. Enter the COVID-19 convulsion. Like an underwater earthquake that causes a massive tidal wave, COVID-19 is causing massive acceleration in these trends.

Case in point:

This excellent article Sweatpants Forever by Irina Aleksander in the New York Times covers the implosion of the traditional fashion industry. Paced like good screenplay, it’s a great read.

The article is full of lessons of waste, chaos, and implosion of an industry bubble that lost sight of the end consumer. In fact, you could say the industry became downright abusive of the end consumer.

And guess who is emerging from that crucible with more business than they can handle? The smaller, leaner DTC brands — with athleisure and casual wear categories leading the pack.

Use the NYT article as a starting place to contemplate the steady and contentious transfer of power that DTC represents.

On a wider level, we’re talking about DTP — direct to people movements. The ones that are a threat to any system built on middlemen, cronyism, cliques and closed doors.

This phenomena is playing out way beyond the borders of the fashion and retail space. People can, and do, organize rapidly using messaging and social media, without regard for physical or even cultural borders.

We saw this with the global school strikes, where millions of children organized and participated in walk-outs. They did not ask for a permission slip or hall pass. This is huge.

Witness also the spontaneous worldwide #BLM protests ignited by the public execution of George Floyd.

Here is the funny thing about us humans: It is very very hard to kill our instinct for free agency.

Just when the keepers of the Matrix think we are all fat and happy, we see an opening, grab that superhero cape, and make a run for it.

The wily old guard Smiths will not go quietly, of course.

Consider the current controversy over voting by mail, which I believe is just to distract people from agitating for the obvious next step — the ability to vote directly for candidates online.

We have the technology to dispense with primaries and the electoral college altogether, but you won’t see politicians on either side bring that one up. Much better to keep everyone focused on saving (or dismantling) the poor Post Office.

What does this mean for you, as a midlife entrepreneur or marketer with a brain in your head and fire in the belly?

It means that we are coming into our prime years at one of the most exciting and challenging times in human history.

It means that if you have even a spark of leadership calling within you, its time to pour on the jet fuel. It is time to create, hard.

We can now find, engage, influence, organize — and market — directly to people based on their shared values, not just demographics or dated stereotypes.

@David Allison has done some compelling research and curates a juicy database related to this shift to values based outreach. His book We Are All the Same Age Now is a must read if you want to market to an online audience. Which is just about anyone marketing anything these days.

I thought of this as I listened to a podcast interview with Kate Bradley Chernis, Founder of #LatelyAI, the first AI powered social media distribution platform.

She raised $3M total in a time when women-led startups receive about 2.8% of venture funding (2019). This stat is yet another symptom that predicts a similar rupture in “traditional” venture capital space as we have in the fashion industry, actually.

The cracks are showing, as women and people of color with great ideas create ways to bypass traditional funding if those sources can’t or won’t open up and keep up.

Kate mentioned that some potential investors pushed back on LatelyAI’s belief that their target market includes not only large companies, but also small ones, too.

(Like mine! Disclosure: I am over the moon and stars happy to say I’m a shiny new client of LatelyAI. #fangirl. They are not paying me to say that or to post this. Darn. )

Kate sees the side of the internet that some don’t yet: The world online where you and I and millions of other individuals / small teams are building our business, and where millions more will join us before the dust settles on COVID-19.

Unlike smug investment groups made up of mostly white men, Kate knows that people don’t stay in their boxes just because billionaires and industries with dated insider-only business models want them to.

I’m guessing that she believes that her target market is based on shared values, not size of revenue.

And that’s what I’m suggesting you think about this weekend. Read the NYT article, take it as a template, and sit back and think,

“Where else is this happening? Going to happen? What does this mean for not just my business, but my reason for being, at this powerful time in my life?”

And then go get yourself on the right side of that tidal wave and connect with your tribe, including me! For more inspo to lead and prosper in this wobbly world, I invite you to join me over at



Kala Philo

Hi! I’m a tech marketing writer, strategist and co-founder. I also write about personal growth via immersive travel. More info at