I grew up on a council estate and left school at 16… everyone underestimated me but now I run a £25m beauty company | The Sun
1st November 2023

A MUM who grew up on a council estate has opened up about her journey to running a £25million beauty company.

Maxine Laceby, 57, says everyone underestimated her – especially since she'd dropped out of school at 16.

But she went on to found Absolute Collagen – which is now a thriving, multimillion-pound company.

And Maxine looks back on her efforts with a smile, saying: “If I can help one person just to step into their own skin, and not be scared, and everything that takes… that is my mission.”

The mum-of-two admitted "life was tough" growing up – she was adopted, grew up in a council estate in Bath, and left school at 16 because she hated it.

In the years that followed she stepped into a range of different jobs, until she found her favourite one of all – raising a family.

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At 25, Maxine became a full-time mum and moved to Wolverhampton, which she still calls home today.

But it wasn't until her daughters – Darcy, 26, and Margot, 23 – flew the coop that she headed to university to study fine arts.

It was while there that she discovered the benefits of collagen after taking part in a challenge to embrace her insecurities – by removing all her makeup and letting her hair turn grey.

Maxine said: “I just had these insecure moments where I used to sit on my bed and go, ‘I don’t know who I am? I’ve been a daughter, I’ve been a mother, who am I?'

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“I had to really deep dive into myself and ask, ‘What’s going on? Why am I feeding these insecurities? It’s only what I look like, who cares?’ But it was more than that.”

The mum started creating her own bone broth at home – simmering chicken feet and pigs trotters in pans at home.

After drinking the concoction, which took hours of cooking to make gelatinous stock, Maxine's hair and skin started reaping the rewards.

Then, in 2017, she launched Absolute Collagen – after her friends and family noticed she was "glowing".

It offered a small sachet of liquid containing the right amount of the best form of collagen, with Vitamin C.

The leap into starting her own business wasn't easy – she remortgaged her house, sold belongings and was forced to borrow money from friends.

But within two years the company had turned over a whopping £1m, and that number kept growing.

She puts her success down to the life she's lived, saying she's solution-focused and she “gets stuff done”.

Maxine said: “I look back and it’s about showing up as me, my authentic self, especially in a world where everybody is shown to be anything but their authentic self."

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