We love Wild for making a gorgeous forever product, paired with a personalised subscription model that keeps your deodorant stocked and sustainable. Eco-friendly business owner Charlie Bowes-Lyon shares the inside details on what 2020 has looked like for Wild. Sharing Wild’s secret to brand success, a baking soda shortage and learning how to positively smash fundraising goals.
Can you please introduce yourselves and what you do (we’re big fans)?
I’m a Co-Founder and CMO at Wild. I look after all our marketing efforts and also am responsible for tech within the company. My main mission is fast paced growth through a well optimised website, utilising a variety of marketing channels and keeping our customer acquisition costs down.
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How and why did the eco-friendly concept of Wild come about in the first place? Why was there a gap in the market?
Both at HelloFresh, where Fred my Co-Founder had been working, and in a small company I had previously set up called Climate Cups, we had seen a huge trend towards sustainability and natural products. We felt that the bathroom was the number one place that needed disrupting when it came to sustainable products. If you think of your deodorants, shampoos, shower gels, soaps, toothpastes etc. there’s a tonne of plastic waste that comes from the bathroom and the vast majority of it doesn’t get recycled. Deodorant, as an everyday product, seemed an obvious place to start especially given there was nothing truly sustainable that worked REALLY well yet on the market in terms of natural deodorant.
What makes Wild stand out from the crowd?
Wild is the full package, there are plenty of eco-friendly businesses that do one thing well but Wild tries to do everything well. In a nutshell that means we are 100% effective i.e. we really work as a natural deodorant, something which many natural deos have previously struggled with. We’re convenient – delivered through your door, on subscription if you want it (one-off if you don’t), you can order when you want, how you want and cancel at any time. It’s all 100% natural and you will actually have heard of the ingredients we use in our deodorants instead of random chemicals. As an eco-friendly business we’re fully sustainable, our refills are made from bamboo pulp and are fully compostable or recyclable. Our cases are reusable and also super stylish so that, for the first time, deodorant can be something that people want to show off and that looks really cool.
How did you get the eco-friendly business started?
We bootstrapped the business, took an off the shelf deodorant, and proved to potential investors that there was a genuinely good idea here. In the meantime, we spent twelve months developing our sustainable packaging and our deodorant with over 25 iterations of deodorant before we were happy. We’re still improving all the time.
Any major curveballs along the way? Any make or break moments? What was the hardest part?
Yes, many! Most notably we launched in April in the middle of lockdown. Our operations went crazy, suppliers disappeared never to be seen again and we were constantly scrambling to create enough product to keep up with the demand. Beyond that, the hardest part was creating a product we were truly proud of. Twelve months to do this was much longer than we thought it would take. We also didn’t realise how hard it was to create a top-performing natural deodorant – things went wrong all the time in the beginning but we got there eventually and are really proud of what we’ve created.
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What have been your biggest learnings from the startup so far?
Biggest learnings have probably been around brand and investment. When we first got investment it took us 6 months to raise £500,000 and convince people it was worth the risk. The second time round it took us 1 month to raise £2 million and we actually had about £5 million in commitments, many of which we turned down. I think we got a lot better at working out how to go about fundraising properly! With brand, we’ve always tried to do it in-house and it’s been a huge learning curve in terms of working out how to effectively communicate what you stand for whilst also looking beautiful to customers.
What makes you tick professionally/get out of bed in the morning….?
There’s no single thing here, the whole process is incredibly exciting, it can also be very intense and there are major ups and downs almost on a daily basis. It’s never boring but if I had to pick one thing, as a marketeer, seeing our growth trajectory soar over the last 7 months since launch as been a constant excitement for me.
What do you think will be the biggest shifts in the industry?
I think the shift has already begun. People want sustainable options but they don’t want these options to be less convenient or not work as well. They want top of the range, high performance products that don’t harm their bodies or the planet. I think in 3-5 years time, the bathroom and all household products will look very different as companies start to deliver on this. We also believe that startups like Wild are best placed to innovate quickly to deliver on this change.
How has Covid-19 affected your business?
As mentioned above, operations were particularly difficult initially as everything was pretty crazy. At one stage we had to ask the CEO of Lush if they had any spare baking soda they could give us – we definitely went to extreme lengths to do what we needed to do. On the flip side, customer acquisition costs for April and May were cheaper than usual over platforms such as Facebook so it was great for us from a marketing perspective. Ongoing I think there will be many challenges and we’ll need to stay agile to make sure we can react to the market and help customers feel like they’re getting what they want, even if they can’t go to the shops to get it.
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When it came to building the brand and its community, what was the secret sauce?
There’s no real secret sauce to this – it’s all the usual stuff, engaging with your audience, standing for something that they can align with, constantly posting interesting and thought provoking stuff but above all, what really matters is that you have a great product!
What does “sustainability” mean to you and how does it impact you as a brand?
Sustainability to me means cutting out or offsetting waste of all kind, whether that’s plastic waste or carbon emissions. Nobody is perfect, and most of us, including me, are far from fully sustainable so we are not here to preach to anyone. What we can do is offer people a better choice of a product that’s better than the one they normally use and on top of that is also sustainable. In addition, as an eco-friendly business, we can offset our carbon emissions which is why we work closely with our charity partner OnAMission to plant trees and help with reforestation efforts. In doing so, we’ve ensured that we’re actually a carbon positive company which means our overall net output is positive for the earth. If every company did this then we’d live in a very different world! In a nutshell, sustainability IS the brand for us.
If I could tell you one thing? (what advice would you tell your younger self!)
Good question – I’d probably say keep doing what you’re doing and don’t worry too much about not having everything worked out. Take the risks as even if they don’t work out how you expect, you’ll normally always gain from them down the line.
Ready to give your morning routine a sustainable upgrade? Check out Wild today to get your hands on the best natural deodorant around town. Feeling inspired by this story? Check out more of our brand and business stories on the blog.