GBEA & GS1 UK: Growing your business by building a Direct to Consumer (D2C) strategy

Since the pandemic, we have seen rapid growth in the Direct to Consumer (D2C) market, with many businesses changing their business models due to consumer behaviour changes, disruption to their industry due to economic changes etc. 

Businesses are seeing huge growth in ROI since introducing their direct to consumer strategy, and many are now starting out with a solely D2C strategy. The idea of selling directly to consumers, and skipping out the third party can save brands money, they have complete control over their brand, and they can have direct access to consumer data to help benefit the brand. 

The latest roundtable held by GS1 UK and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards hosted a group of founders and experts from different industries, to discuss their experiences with D2C, and how you too can build your D2C strategy, to help skyrocket your business. 

Discussing how D2C has advanced over the last few years, and why it is so beneficial, Natalie Baker, founder of Fable Yoga said, “I think D2C should be the priority because it’s where you have the most control. When working with retailers and department stores you don’t have that level of control. Margin also benefits as it’s hard to grow a really profitable business through wholesale” 

Sarah Welsh, Co-Founder of Hanx, agreed, explaining how Hanx has always looked to do more D2C work due to the benefits brands see on margin and control. However she also stressed the importance that there still is on being on shelves, “It’s a customer acquisition channel, but also awareness is huge. For us, it’s vital because we’re a medical device, and people may not know us. They need to trust us and being on shelves next to the big dogs, helps make us seem more legit” 

Expanding on that point, the group went on to discuss how you can drive consumers back to your website when selling through retail stores or online marketplaces. Marina Wegorek, founder of ProYouth Nutrition, explained how when selling her products on Amazon she ensured that her packaging was designed to direct people to her website, where they would hopefully purchase in the future. “We encourage reviews, explaining how as a small business it means a lot to us, we also encourage feedback and provide our website for people to know where to visit”

 Antoine Melon, Co-Founder of HOMETAINMENT, discussed how as a brand offering services rather than products, he found that D2C strategies initially helped build his business, “for a consumer-centric organisation like HOMETAINMENT, D2C is like a shop window, it is our consumer-facing product which allows us to receive reviews and continuously improve our offering in line with consumer expectations. It is then possible to leverage this brand to approach B2B partners and firm up agreements which now allow us to reach a wider target audience.” A brand building ecosystem including Digital Marketing, PR and SEO capabilities is a key element in creating a successful brand reaching your target audience, through the channels your consumers are most receptive to, such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok etc.

Marketing is a key element in creating a successful brand, as it’s the most effective way of introducing the world to your brand, and an easy way to reach your target audience, through the channels they are most receptive to, such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok etc. Tracey Munro, founder of Skinniv, explained how she has used social media marketing to target her audience. “They say people look at your product 5 times before they actually purchase, so we find retargeting most effective when it comes to marketing”. She added that marketing won’t see ROI overnight, “From about month three it (online advertising) started working really well, where we started seeing ROI. I did a lot of split testing in months one and two to see what was working best” 

Going on to discuss how social media marketing to build your D2C strategy, Natalie Quail, founder of Smile Time, explained how TikTok can help boost your brand profile. “TikTok is very much a place for brand discovery, in terms of not just organic, but also TikTok paid ads. TikTok now has shoppable ads, so they’re really trying to improve their retargeting.”

To conclude, the conversation found that ultimately, like most things, there are pros and cons to D2C, but mostly all pros! 

Using D2C strategies allows businesses to take full control of the representation of their brand, from marketing, packaging and all of the in-betweens. The advancements in social media and how you can target your audience are vast, allowing brands to expand reach in a way that they may no longer need to use wholesale methods – however, being seen on shop shelves is still very much helpful. 

Sarah Atkins, CMO and Director of Membership at GS1 UK said, “The session was a great opportunity for inspirational brands to learn from each other. At a time when businesses are seeing a slowing down of their sales post COVID and the playbook for core marketing channels has been rewritten, practical advice on how to build your brand through D2C strategy, from a community of like-minded founders is invaluable.”

GS1 UK are currently offering members of our community members 20% off of your first year of membership. Use code GBEA20 at checkout and find out more here.

GBEA & GS1 UK: Growing your business by building a Direct to Consumer (D2C) strategy



We’re delighted to have you join this Great British Entrepreneur Awards and GS1 UK roundtable discussing how entrepreneurs are facing disruption and innovation pitfalls. We’ll be focusing on: Growing your business by building a Direct to Consumer (D2C) strategy.

Our community is all about bringing great minds together to support, connect and share.

It is our intention that from this session you will:

  • Create new and interesting connections
  • Share and consume trends and opportunities
  • Support or receive the support of industry peers and experts
  • Be included within a write up to appear on Fresh Business Thinking post event (all quotes and comments will be sent to you for sign off ahead of any sharing)

The session will run for 45 minutes. After initial introductions Sarah Atkins of GS1 UK will open up the discussion.

We will grant all attendees camera and microphone access/visibility.

This is intended to be an informal and relaxed conversation between some of Great Britain’s most exciting entrepreneurs. There is no pressure and no expectation, if restrictions allowed we’d like to be doing this over a breakfast but we hope that for now, the comfort of your own home will do. We can’t wait to see you!


Taking place on Wednesday 20th April at 8.30am, the session will run for 45 minutes. Please have your camera and microphone on.

This is the link to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89263813751


Antoine Melon, HOMEtainment
Antoine Melon is the Co-Founder and Director of HOMEtainment. The first platform where you can book premium Private Chefs, Drinks, Music, Arts & Crafts and Children’s experiences that our hand picked expert HOMEtainers will bring to life in the comfort of your HOME & OFFICE.

Francesca James – Great British Entrepreneur Awards
Francesca is the co-founder of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, acknowledging the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain. With a community of outstanding entrepreneurs who’ve gone on to become household names, the Awards pride themselves on celebrating the entrepreneurs story and not the balance sheet.

Jessica Parrish, Shedid & Parrish
Shedid & Parrish is the salon brand for curly & textured hair.   All of the range is 100% natural, vegan, cruelty free and scent free and uses recycled aluminium with direct to bottle printing to minimise waste.  In our first year we were awarded best New Haircare Brand and Best Shampoo & Conditioner for all types, highlighting the quality of the range. We have also partnered with HABIA the hair & beauty industry authority in order to help improve hair equality within the UK salon arena.  We are all about hair inclusivity and positivity, embracing & celebrating the way our hair grows naturally from our head.

Kate Morgan, Nourish
Kate is the Sales and Marketing Specialist at Nourished, handmade bites & snacks, using only the freshest of organic ingredients in order to keep your body functions at its peak.

Lauren O’Donnell, Oatsu
Lauren O’Donnell is the Founder of Oatsu, a ready-to-eat, plant-based breakfast delivery service. We help busy people save time in the morning with our plant-based, gut-friendly, ready-to-eat overnight oat breakfasts.

Marina Wegorek, Pro Nutrition
As a mother of two and founder of ProYouth Nutrition, Marina saw the opportunity last year when her daughter joined a competitive swimming club. During her daughter’s first competitive swimming competition, Marina was shocked to see canteens offering sweets, chocolate and energy drinks.

Natalie Baker, Fable Yoga
Fable Yoga has quickly made a fast name for itself in the health and wellness world with a line of aesthetically pleasing, high performance yoga mats and props. Fable believes that making great yoga gear doesn’t need to come at a cost to the Earth. They’ve made it their mission to create the grippiest yoga mats around with distraction free designs to fully support you in your yoga practice, while giving back to people and planet in the process.

Natalie Quail, Smile Time
SmileTime was founded in 2019 by ex-international tax lawyer Natalie Quail with a close-knit UK based team who collectively have over 30 years experience in the UK dental industry. Natalie and her team recognised a gap for a holistic one stop shop for all things smile care which offered affordable, sensitivity free, results driven products, that fit as easily into our self care routine, as our skin care routine.

Nicola Cher Geismar, Free Your Spine
Nicola Cher Geismar is the founder and creator of Free Your Spine, a movement method developed to empower and support people towards better back and hip health, with a keen focus on uplifting our emotional wellbeing. Free Your Spine was born out of injury and Nicola’s absolute passion for movement to lighten and brighten our physical and emotional wellbeing, having personally experienced over the years depressive episodes alongside great physical dis-ease and distress.

It is the very movement tools that Nicola shares via the Free Your Spine method that helped her shift these energies and support Nicola in breaking free and through these challenging times. Nicola  has led movement experiences for SXSW in Austin, Texas, Nike team in NYC as well as Soho House, ELLE Magazine and Diageo. Free Your Spine is trailblazing the next generation of healthy backs at work and in life.

Sarah Atkins, GS1 UK
Sarah’s role is to provide leadership in marketing, membership experience and SME strategy to enhance the GS1 UK brand, attract, retain and grow new members, and deliver service excellence throughout the customer journey.

Sarah has gained a wealth of experience delivering marketing led business change programmes at several diverse organisations, ranging from property consultancies in the UK to world leaders in luxury outlet retailing. She has expertise in driving customer loyalty through brand and customer engagement and has led many businesses through customer focused transformation.

Sarah Sklavenitis, Messiah and Eve
It was an expensive hand soap habit and a love and loathing of fragranced hand and body products that led Sarah Sklavenitis to create MESSIAH and EVE. A new generation body dedicated brand, upping the game on body care with a skincare ingredient approach and a dedication to fine fragrance that really lasted on the skin. Sarah is a former consultant Change Manager, delivering people and technology programmes to employees all over the globe.

Sarah Welsh, Hanx
Dr Sarah Welsh is the co-founder of sexual & intimate wellness brand HANX, and a gynaecology doctor. Sarah is passionate about breaking the stigmas and taboos around sexual wellness, and regularly contributes medically-informed commentary for the likes of Forbes, Men’s Health, Stylist and Refinery 29.

Sonya Bachra-Byrne, AVIE
Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of AVIE Stuido, a contemporary, luxury slow fashion label dedicated to creating elevated, stylish, investment pieces for desk to dinner versatility.

Stuart Macdonald, ManiLife
Stu Macdonald 30 years old. Founded ManiLife just over 6 years ago out of a rugby club kitchen with lots and lots of friends. We adopt the same principles that have become commonplace in craft categories like coffee and chocolate (direct, single estate sourcing, small batch production, flavour through roasting rather than added ingredients). By this we create tastier products that get more people into peanut butter!

Tracey Munro, Skinniv
Tracey Munro is the founder of Skinni V plant based nutrition and supplements. They launched Skinni V a month before the pandemic hit. Tracey has been in different businesses for over 28 Years.