PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
HOW ONE MOM’S BREW OF CHICKEN FEET AND PIGS' TROTTERS LED TO £10M BUSINESS IN JUST THREE YEARS.
Wolverhampton mom of two, Maxine Laceby, had just turned 50 when she kick-started a health drive and first began simmering chicken feet and pigs' trotters into a home-made broth just three years ago.
Today her ‘secret’ recipe is at the centre of a £10 million beauty collagen business and is sold across Europe to rave reviews.
Having devoted half her life to bringing up her children after giving up a job at the age of 25, Maxine's rise to the top began in earnest when her two daughters flew the nest.
Prosper spoke to Maxine about her business, asked her advice for wannabe entrepreneurs and learnt how she has never let her dyslexia or ADHD get in the way.
“I embarked on a fine art degree at university when my daughters grew up”, Maxine said, “And part of the course led me to re-examine my lifestyle and start brewing 'broth' that I drank to boost my hair and skin.
“Within no time, I had friends knocking on my door, asking to try my secret remedy, so I began bottling it.”
Now, with the help of her daughters Darcy, 22, and Margot, 19, her company Absolute Collagen is set to turnover £10 million in just three short years.
“One project at university was all about being the person I am and so I stripped back, let my hair go grey, wore no make-up and dowdy clothes,” said Maxine, now 53, “In fact, very similar to how many thousands of women have had to live during the recent lockdown months.”
“It made me realise how desperately insecure I felt about how I looked and it made me rethink everything about myself.”
Maxine began to make broth in pans at home for hours to make a gelatinous stock which she drank. She said it produced results so noticeable her friends started asking for batches for themselves.
“People told me I “look sparkling” and asked what I was doing?”, said Maxine, “My skin was glowing, my hair was shiny. The only thing I could attribute it to was the broth.
“I looked into it and realised it was the collagen in the bone broth that was having an effect so I began making massive vats of it at home, like some kind of white witch, and I’d have friends banging on my door”, she laughed.
Realising she was on to something, Maxine researched the collagen supplement market and found that many products available contained just small amounts of collagen and that she wanted to create a product that would contain the maximum amount of marine collagen that could be absorbed into the bloodstream – but for the minimum price.
“When I was a child, we were always on the breadline," Maxine continued, “My mom earned a minimum wage her whole life. As a six-year-old, I remember walking around department stores wondering why she couldn’t afford the same products as other mums.”
“When I started people told me I was selling my product “too cheap” but I really don’t think beauty should be pocket deep. I knew I couldn’t afford a retail store or a distributor, so I’d have to do it myself from home. I spoke to competitors and they told me I was a “little fish in a big lake~ and that I’d get “eaten alive.”
In May 2017, Maxine launched her website Absolute Collagen so that people could buy her supplements from her directly and she began to market it via social media.
At the end of her first financial year, she had turned over half a million pounds. In the second year, that rose to two and a half million and now she’s on track to turn over £10 million by the end of her third financial year with Absolute Collagen now selling in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.
“We don’t outsource the distribution because that would put a barrier between us and the customer," Maxine said.
"Doing it this way means we can add in handwritten notes and little gifts like home fragrance. We also make sure we reply to every single message we receive, I think that’s really important.”
Daughters, Darcy and Margot now work with Maxine, helping her with marketing and shipping some 26,000 products a year from their home in Wolverhampton, and with a planned move to commercial premises as the country comes out of lockdown, Maxine has been selected as one of the LDC Top 50 Leaders, a Lloyds Development Capital initiative which showcases and celebrates the business leaders of UK medium-sized businesses and is supported by The Telegraph.
“I adored every moment of being a stay at home mom but I always knew I would do something, even if I didn’t know what that would be."
"So many people feel they have nowhere to go once their children have flown the nest but 50 is young nowadays. Going to university and starting a business at 50 excited me so much. And now my kids work with me too.
“I’m trying to work with the government and the Prince’s Trust to offer funding to re-train women after having children. I feel everything I take into the boardroom comes from being a mom.
“As a mom, you scan the room and pick up things intuitively, you can make sure people are happy without them having to say anything. I think moms can bring so much to the UK economy."
So what’s Maxine’s advice for entrepreneurs?
Don’t doubt yourself, especially if you’re a mom and you don’t think you have anything more to offer
Look at your abilities and what you are doing day-to-day and take it into the workplace
As mothers, we have to be very solution-focused, use this in your business
100 per cent of your morals and ethics will go into your business without a shadow of a doubt so if, for example, you have a tendency to cut corners, be very aware of this in business