Darien mom becomes TikTok star for parenting hacks

DARIEN — Shannon Doherty knows life can be hectic trying to balance running a business and raising four small children. Add a pandemic to complicate things, and the 36-year-old Darien mom needed to come up with some hacks to get through the day.

That’s when she decided to share her ideas on TikTok.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure what it was at first,” said Doherty, who owns Darien’s Coco+Lala clothing store.

“I thought it was just something that kids used to share videos of them dancing,” she said.

Since joining in March, Doherty now has 160,000 followers, 6 million likes, and an estimated 40 million views. Earlier this month, one of Doherty’s mom hacks, a healthy sanitation station, was featured on “Good Morning America.” Doherty said she was approached by the show’s editor after she saw Doherty’s TikTok. The video has now gained more than 400,000 likes.

One mom hack Doherty shared on TikTok was “Random things in our laundry room that just make sense.” Those items included a purse for loose change, a sign that can be flipped to say “clean or dirty,” a small Keurig coffee maker, and a lonely sock bin. That TikTok got nearly 15,000 likes. Another similar video about laundry room hacks gained nearly 40,000 likes.

Doherty said she tries to combine humor with useful tips for how to juggle being a working mom.

“I try to think of creative ideas that no one else is pointing out. And we have four kids, so I’m running around and most of my ideas have gone through trial and error — they actually work,” Doherty said.

Doherty said she also tries to show she’s a real person who isn’t perfect.

“If I’m cooking, and I burn the cake, I show that,” she said.

Some of her most popular ideas include self-serve stations for her children’s meals and needs, including a breakfast station, a snack station in the fridge, and a lunch station. During the summer, she also had a poolside self-serve sunblock station.

Another popular video showed a creative way to get her small children into the grocery cart through the swinging back instead of lifting them over the side. Another activity gave Doherty a chance to take a brief nap while the children “draw mommy sleeping,” which drew more than 150,000 likes.

Doherty’s success has earned her 14 monthly sponsorships and has increased exposure for her store, which also sells its merchandise online and has locations in Darien and in Westerly, R.I.

Doherty doesn’t often show the faces of her children, Leontine “Lala,” 6, Colton “Coco,” 5, Fallon “Peaches,” 3, and Hunter, 1, on TikTok. Doherty says some people are hesitant to expose their young children to the internet, but she says social media “isn’t going anywhere.”

“It’s going to be part of their lives,” she said. “If I can harness it and teach them to use it responsibly, they can use it to their advantage and not have it eat them alive.”

When the pandemic first closed schools and businesses in March, Doherty used Coco+Lala to raise awareness with her “Spread Love Not Germs” shirt and hashtag. For every “Spread Love” shirt sold, Coco+Lala supported Share Our Strengths #NoKidHungry campaign to give 10 meals for children who needed food.

TikTok was another way Doherty said she and others were able to interact while being stuck at home during the pandemic.

“We’ve been having so much fun with it. It was a great way to be connected to people,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of moms this way. It was a fun way to stay connected and be doing something.”

Despite her sudden TikTok fame, Doherty said her children still keep her grounded.

“I say to my daughter, ‘Did you tell your friends we posted a new TikTok video?’ And she says, ‘No, mom, that’s embarrassing!’” Doherty said, laughing.

“I say, ‘Embarrassing? But I’m so cool.’” she added.

Shannon Doherty can be found on TikTok @theshannonldoherty.