International Women's Day 2021 –

The Success Series: Anne Doherty-Lyons

In this third instalment, we meet Anne Doherty-Lyons, whose latest business, Wild Hearts Gang, was driven out of a conversation with her husband and his daughter.

Our clients are exceptional. The Success Series is designed to shine a light on the people breaking boundaries, taking a leap of faith, creating something new and offering a hand up to the next generation. Through a series of interviews, we understand what it takes to make that leap of faith to start up, share the joy of reaching goals, and understand how to get back up if you stumble.

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With one business forced on hold and the other taking care of itself, Anne Doherty-Lyons, founder of Wild Hearts Gang, describes her early lockdown experience:

“I was baking myself into a frenzy; I needed to do something!”

Not one to sit still for long, Anne’s eclectic career history includes fashion modelling, Head of Client Services for a well-known construction firm, setting up a customer care business and an events company. Anne’s latest business, Wild Hearts Gang, was driven out of a conversation with her husband and his daughter.

Anne Doherty-Lyons

At 11 years old, Anne’s step-daughter Charlotte was showing signs that her first period would arrive soon, and Anne wanted to ensure it was a good experience. “I’d been buying loads of little gifts throughout lockdown for people – letterbox brownies and the like – so I thought there must be something I could get – a few little nice things together, but there was nothing.” Undeterred, Anne built her own little box of essentials and treats for Charlotte, but then thought… “This could be a really good business”, and the idea was born.

Anne Doherty-Lyons with her daughters and product line

From the outset, Anne was determined that she was creating a brand, not a product, and that above all it felt cool and accessible for the tween/teen market with a really fun vibe. “I didn’t want it to scream period; no droplets of blood and absolutely no mention of ‘Aunt Flo’”; Anne physically shudders at the thought. It was also important that body positive messages were delivered so that girls could understand what was happening, and how they might feel.

“I want to empower girls to be proud of their whole body from top to toe."

The leaflets are straightforward and informative, packed with positive messages.

The Wild Hearts Gang product line

Already the brand has branched out into wider products, including a new teen body and skin care range designed to encourage teens to establish a healthy routine. “All they need now is to cleanse and moisturise, but it needs to be more than wiping a wet flannel around your face.” Wild Hearts Gang developed their own formula, which is vegan, made in the UK and suitable for sensitive skin. There is also a doggie range to help owners support their pets as they go through their first season, inspired by her own miniature poodle sisters.

Anne wears her serial entrepreneur hat well; “Why have one when I can have three?” she shrugs. But it might never have turned out this way. It was when Anne had a health scare and had to take time away from work that she began to look at what she really wanted in life. “I always wanted to work for myself, so I did a fast track diploma while I was off work.” 

Although Anne did return to work after treatment, a short while later her mum passed away.

“I thought, life’s too short to sit at a desk not loving what you’re doing; that’s when I decided to jump.”

She had a year’s worth of savings and thought she’d give it a go, “and then it just spiralled. It’s true that when you come out of the rat race, you have time to be more creative.”

And it’s a mix of creativity and a desire to be a strong role model for her children that has spurred her onto new heights. “I found out I was pregnant with my first child at six months when I was 16, and people thought because I’d grown up on a council estate that I would just become a statistic, but I wanted to set an example; I wanted to show my daughter that nothing can stop me.”

Anne has always been goal-orientated and uses affirmations to reach her goals; her first car was a Micra and she was determined the next one would be a Mini. When she worked in construction, as one of two women in the business, she grew her customer experience team from two to sixty. She’s also taken a hugely hands-on role to the new business, getting involved at all stages from branding, copywriting, photography, labelling. She’s received countless test pots as she reviews the prototypes, and not being able to visit the factory has been the only real frustration lockdown has caused. And it’s been a family affair: Charlotte, as the target consumer, gives feedback on the designs and products, while her daughter – a web designer in her own right – has designed the website, and her son, who is studying financial and business management, was roped into managing the stockists and building the spreadsheets while he was home from university.

Celebrity endorsement videos on Instagram and other social media combined with a big press push have really helped the brand reach a wider audience, but it’s all about the end consumer for Anne.

"Seeing the pictures and videos of little girls opening their boxes is gorgeous.”

Wild Hearts Gang is also working with their local Action for Children, providing charity boxes for girls who need this most.

Illustration of a young women in casual wear labelled 'girl style'

Anne has been inspired by the number of people who have started their own business during lockdown and offers the advice, “Don’t live with ‘what ifs’. What’s the worst that could happen?” However, she acknowledges that she had savings behind her when she started, and she counsels, “Have some savings, or someone backing you, or just start it as a side hustle. Once you’re making money from it, you can think about giving up security.”

A final ambition for Anne?  “I’d love to have a massive warehouse and our own factory.” We can’t wait to see what Anne and the Wild Hearts Gang do next.

More from the Success Series

Cath King

Cath King

In our first instalment we catch up with Cath King, owner and Director of Truro Business Hub, to discuss her journey from a global military training brand to transforming one of Truro’s most treasured properties.

Jan Lever

Jan Lever MBE

In our second instalment we meet with Jan Lever, founder of Jigsaw PHSE, to discuss how she took “an idea that just wouldn’t go away”, and turned it into a business which provides services to more than 5,000 schools across 38 countries.

Author -

Phillip Rainford

Phillip Rainford

Private Banker

Phillip has over 10 years’ experience from his time at RBS Private Banking, working with a number of entrepreneurs and HNWI in relationship management roles across the North West. Day to day as a Private Banker Phil manages a portfolio of high net worth clients with an emphasis on Wealth & Investment Management. Phillip is currently studying for his Level 4 Investment Advice Diploma with one more exam to complete. At home he enjoys spending time with his daughter and can otherwise be found with friends on the golf course or enjoying a glass of wine.