Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

Ecommerce Age meets: Charlie Bowes-Lyon, Co-Founder of natural deodorant brand Wild

Wild is a natural deodorant brand that has sold over £20M worth of product in just 18 months since launch. Founders and childhood friends Freddy Ward and Charlie Bowes-Lyon had previous experience with DTC businesses, including bringing Hello Fresh to IPO. 

Ecommerce Age recently spoke to Bowes-Lyon to find out more about Wild’s impressive growth to date and future plans for the brand. 

What was the inspiration for the business?

I think there are few more exciting or difficult challenges than tackling our reliance on plastic packaging across the household. We quickly focused on the bathroom due to the very low percentage of products recycled and the opportunity for sustainable packaging led innovation. If everyone is now using a reusable water bottle why are we still buying all our personal care products in single-use plastic? 

We believe the personal care market in particular has been stagnant for too long and provided the perfect space for disruption with high performing, convenient and natural alternatives to mainstream brands all delivered in sustainable and refillable packaging. Wild’s mission is to help people replace these daily personal products without compromise.

What learnings from your time with Hello Fresh did you bring to Wild?

My Co-Founder Fred worked at HelloFresh for 6 years and was one of the UK’s first employees. He was able to see the growth of the UK business from 0 to 100m in revenue and everything it takes to get a Start Up to that scale. That insight and knowledge was invaluable in helping us frame the early stages of our journey with Wild. Likewise, my own experience setting up Climate Cups, a sustainable business focussed on reusable coffee cups and water bottles really illustrated the desire that consumers have for more sustainable products. The demand for high quality products that work as well as their counterparts but don’t leave a damaging footprint was the foundation of what we then went on to build at Wild.

Was the Ecommerce/DTC/subcription model always your preferred route to market? 

Absolutely – we felt strongly that to be able to understand the customer, we needed direct feedback and their help in further developing the product. At every stage of the business development we have used the opinions (and complaints) from our customers to help improve our offering. For example, most of our scents are voted on by customers and many of our more whacky successes (think Lemon Meringue Pie) came directly as a customer suggestion. Being an Ecom business has allowed us to rapidly improve and iterate on everything we do which in turn now allows us to deliver a really great product and experience into retail.

What advice can you offer others looking to establish an online DTC business? 

Test test test! Split test everything you can, collect as much data and customer feedback as you can, and never expect things to work just because you think it should. Secondly, don’t wait to have the perfect product. Launch as soon as you can and then use the feedback you get to improve.

Having proven the business model, many startups fail during the investment/scale-up stage – have you any tips for navigating growth?

When it comes to investment, especially in the first round, it can be really tough to secure something. It took us six months and we found it especially hard because all we had was a concept (we didn’t even have a product prototype yet that we could show them, just some drawings). The good news is, that as things move on and providing you’re showing some success, it gets a bit easier. I think the key in that first 6 months was to be absolutely relentless, we spoke to every single VC and after they’d all said no we moved on to Angel investors. We didn’t know any so had to ask people for introductions and then the key was asking every potential investor we met to introduce us to two further investors. Eventually we got to where we wanted to be. 

When scaling up, the challenges change but the philosophy stays the same – be relentless in your pursuit both growth and profit, be adaptable, take risks and multiply your opportunities (multiple channels, geographies, offline & online etc.)

What are your hopes for the future of Wild?

I’d love for the Wild brand name to become synonymous with having made the bathroom a single-use plastic free zone. Hopefully one day every product you use in the bathroom will be waste-free because of a revolution we started!


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