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How a jobless mum-of-two launched her own Sh1.4 billion beauty business

Achieving Woman - By Mirror
Maxine Laceby hadn't worked for 25 years but that changed as soon as she made a big decision (Image: Victoria Macken)

A busy mum has explained how she created a multi-million-pound beauty business from the kitchen table.

Maxine Laceby didn't have a job for 25 years before getting down to work creating the supplements.

She now owns the Sh1.4 billion (£10 million) beauty business but says she doesn't feel any different to when she was jobless.

The parent now runs the hugely Absolute Collagen after getting started while thinking about ideas as she puts the family's dinner on.

Maxine, from Wolverhampton, has revealed the secrets to her incredible success.

"I cooked, cleaned, provided, mum taxi-ed, supported, you name it," she said.

"I was 50 and I could do whatever I wanted. I’d divorced my husband ten years earlier and was finally on my own.

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"I’ve always had a bit of a creative streak, so I enrolled in a Fine Art Degree. One of the first projects was exploring bare beauty so I had to strip myself free from make-up and hair products.

"It was then that I had an epiphany.

The self-made mum says she just had to take the risks (Image: Maxine Laceby)

"That was the first time I stepped into my own skin and I was surprised at how insecure and vulnerable I felt. I’d given so much to my family over the years, I’d lost myself in the process.

"I’d lost all my self-confidence. And my diet was terrible. I’d snack all the time or skip meals and eat a packet of biscuits at the end of the day. I needed to nurture myself and that’s when I had started boiling up the broth.

"It was a big health craze in America at the time – I’d read about people cooking up animal bones to improve their wellbeing. I’d get the chicken carcass or whatever roast we’d had that weekend and boil it up with 3 litres of water and let it simmer for six hours."

She added: "I remortgaged my house and took out Sh2.2 million (£16,000) so I could self-fund turning my broth into a beauty supplement, as no bank would lend me the money.

"It was a risk I was prepared to take – if it all failed, we’d just have to move. I had a product that worked, I just needed to work out how to mass produce it, package it and sell it.

"You can find anything on google. I read clinical trials, research papers, looked at what competitors were doing – all from my kitchen table.

"After some thorough research and speaking to a helpful scientist at Birmingham University and the Food Standards Agency, I decided to use a Type 1 marine collagen (it was more effective than the collagen from the bone broth) and create a ready-mixed, liquid formula I could sell in sachets.

"After getting the formula right, I had to source ingredients, find someone to blend them, then organise microbiology testing and sachet packaging… it was endless. And I wanted to sell it directly - I wasn’t having a retailer take a 60% cut!"

Darcy and Margot make sure mum Maxine has all the help she needs (Image: Maxine Laceby)

After becoming a stay-at-home mum to two children Darcy and Margot, she knew she had to push herself further.

But it wasn't all plain sailing for her.

"I had problems along the way. I had to throw away the first batch because I hadn’t sorted out the marketing properly so it didn’t sell," she added.

"I had to remortgage again and release more money for another batch and then find a digital marketing agency so I could reach the customers through social media.

"Over the first nine months, I remortgaged to raise a total of Sh35 million (£249,000) of my own money. There was a five-month period where all I was doing was shelling out money.

"But I had faith and I think we went from turning over Sh428, 000 ( £3k) one month, to Sh1 million (£7k), to Sh1.2 million (£9k)…Sh1.7 million (£12k)…Sh2.5 million (£18k). In the first year, we turned over just short of half a million.

"I’m making a lot of money, but I don’t feel any different. You won’t catch me dripping in diamonds or getting into my limo! My life is beautifully uneventful."

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