How Absolute Collagen grew to a £23m business

Category: News
How Absolute Collagen grew to a £23m business

Today we speak to Maxine Laceby, and discover how they launched Absolute Collagen as a start up and within a couple of years had a £1m turnover business which today provides employment for 60 people and turns over £23m.

Who are you and what is the background of your business?

I’m Maxine Laceby, the co-founder of Absolute Collagen – an award-winning company specialising in marine collagen products. In 2017, my daughter and co-founder Darcy and I launched the brand, originally offering a small sachet of liquid containing the right amount of the best form of collagen along with Vitamin C. We now create a range of products such as serums, skincare, haircare and of course, our collagen supplements, which are clinically proven to aid in skin restoration.

Diving into starting my own business wasn’t easy – I remortgaged my house, sold belongings and was forced to borrow money from friends, as I was initially told by a bank manager that I lacked the experience. Fortunately, within two years the company had turned over £1m, and that number keeps growing, with our turnover for 2023 being £21m. We have also won numerous awards for our products, including the Woman and Home beauty awards for our serum, and the Glamour Wellness Award for Best Supplement.

How did your business initially get started?

I had been out of the workforce for around 25 years to take care of my daughters, and after my husband and I divorced, I knew I wanted to do more. So, at the age of 49, I decided to enrol myself into university to study fine arts, a decision I made after my eldest daughter left for university herself. For one project I didn’t wear makeup for four months and cut my hair short. It made me feel invisible. I thought, if I was going to strip myself bare for this project, I needed to feel good on the inside, so I started making bone broth from scratch. At the time I was unaware of the benefits, but I would soon notice the effect it would have on my skin and hair.

It gave me a sense of wellbeing and a new found confidence. My eyes were sparkly, I had a spring in my step, and my skin became so dewy. I noticed jelly forming on top of the broth I was cooking and realised this hero ingredient was collagen.

In 2015 I started making big vats of bone broth to give to all of my friends. It dawned on me that if they were enjoying it, why can’t everyone? I knew I had a great initial product, so I decided to do further research and start a collagen supplement business with my eldest daughter, Darcy, who was studying food science and had access to a lab. We started working on a formula for a collagen supplement in our kitchen and found that marine collagen was far superior to the collagen in broth and in 2017 we launched Absolute Collagen.

What is the current size or scale of your business today?

We currently have around 60 full time employees, as well as some part time employees and contractors. Since starting Absolute Collagen, we’ve grown almost 165% and our latest turnover was c. £23 million.

In what ways has Amazon played a role in helping your business grow?

We’ve been selling on Amazon since 2018, and since then have seen a strong percentage of sales come through. Amazon’s Pan European Fulfilment (Pan EU program) has been integral to testing out new markets such as France and Germany by creating a lower entry barrier than if we were to set up and launch our products overseas somewhere by ourselves. This approach enables us to gain valuable insights into our overseas customers and gather evidence of demand, which can inform our future market entry strategies.

What do you envision for the future of your business?

We hope to continue growing on a steady basis, as well as expand into new markets such as the USA. Our customers have built their own community, naming themselves “absoluters”, and we’d love to continue to grow and reach new customers. If I can help one person step into their own skin, and not be scared of embracing who they truly are… that is my mission. It’s all about empowerment. I want people to just be their authentic selves and, as frightening as that is, I think coming out the other side of that is beautiful.

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