On the up · 4 September 2018

Bare Biology founder used her mental illness battle to spark a business venture

Melanie Lawson, founder of Bare Biology

Melanie Lawson was spurred on to start her own business after a battle with post natal depression, after realising there was a gap in the market for high quality Omega 3 fish oil supplements.

Business Advice caught up with Lawson to find out what her biggest business achievements have been.

Where did the concept come from?

I noticed a gap in the market for high quality fish oils, ones that are strong enough to make a difference to our health and pure enough to taste good and not fill us up with pollutants from the sea. I was using fish oils for my postnatal depression and latterly for my children’s brain development.

How did you fund your business?

It was self funded from savings. We had around £40,000 saved up and figured we could blow it on a few holidays or a new car, or could try and do something amazing and start a business.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?

Securing my supply chain. Hardly anyone wanted to work with me as my volumes were too small. Minimum order quantities (MOQs – took me ages to work out what that meant!) were always too high. 

Finding a good designer for our packaging and one that didn’t cost the earth.

My first recruits – it’s very difficult going from being a one-woman-band in control of everything and trusting other people do do the job.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

I think it’s still getting stocked in Liberty, even though that was my first big achievement. My business was only four months old when they decided to put me on their shelves and it as a huge vote of confidence and credibility booster.

What marketing strategies have you used? 

We use social media a lot, particularly Instagram. We’ve done a lot of influencer collaborations. We use PR a lot, getting out product out there and getting people using it. We’ve had great press coverage, usually because the journalist has tried our fish oil and felt a lot better.

In five years’ time, I’ll be…

Very old! I’ll still be running Bare Biology but with an expanded product range and some exciting technology. We’ll still be quite small, but efficient and highly effective. 

Who are your business heroes and why?

I have to say Steve Jobs even though that’s boring, but he was an absolute genius.

Jo Malone is an amazing female entrepreneur, she started a new trend in perfume and then went on to fight cancer and launch another business. 

Julie Deane (Cambridge Satchel Company) who is a mum, like me, and who came through huge adversity. I also love Tim Ferriss, and he’s my go-to read for advice and inspiration.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just get on with it. You can’t launch with perfection, it’s impossible. Just get started and you’ll learn as you go. Businesses have to change, grow and adapt all the time so have an open mind-set and just believe in yourself. If I can do it, anyone can.

What’s your favourite way to spend downtime?

Walking in the countryside and breathing fresh, silent air.

Last series you binge watched?

Manhunt on Netflix. It’s a story about how the FBI found the Unabomber by analysing language and speech. Really fascinating and very well acted.

What three things can’t you live without?

Builders tea, eggs and my notebook.

What app do you use the most?

Instagram. I find it very helpful for finding new and interesting brands.

What song is always on your playlist?

Faithless, Insomnia. Great one to get you going if you’re in a slump.

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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

Work and Wellbeing