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Meet the woman who made fish oil fashionable

Meet the woman who made fish oil fashionable

From the depths of depression Melanie Lawson, the founder of Bare Biology, set out to make fish oil fashionable and to bring happiness and wellbeing to others. Balance Me co-founder, Rebecca, met Melanie a couple of years ago at a female entrepreneurs event and they became firm friends.

Rebecca (R): What made you set up Bare Biology, tell us how you started out.

Melanie (M): People are always a little surprised and bewildered when they ask me what I do. Fish oil is quite random. After I had my second child, I developed bad post-natal depression (I also had pre-natal but didn’t register it at the time). My mother was hospitalised with it and I was scared mine would get worse. Part of the illness also makes you feel like a bad mother, so I was determined not to be ‘bad’ and get better for my children. Fish oil helped enormously in my recovery. I hadn’t realised that mothers become completely depleted of their own Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), an essential omega 3 fatty acid which forms a large part of our brain, due to feeding it to their baby in the womb and also in breast milk. Some studies show that mothers are depleted for up to 10 years.

R: How did that turn into a business?

M: My background is in advertising and I used to work on brands like Coca-Cola and Sainsbury’s but it had always been my dream to run my own business and I wanted flexibility around my three children. I didn’t want to miss a school play because my boss needed me in the office. I knew there was a huge gap in the UK market for top quality fish oil, and my passion for its health benefits gave me the impetus to have a go at creating my own brand.

R: What was your first big break?

M: My first big break came when Liberty stocked our Lion Heart liquid in their beauty hall ‘Must Haves’. We’re still in there 4 years later. This opened further doors for us at Space NK and Whole Foods, then all our other retailers followed suit. We also had some coverage in the Daily Mail a few years ago which made our online sales sky rocket!

R: What kind of benefits can be expected from Omega 3 supplements?

M: 60% of our brain matter is fat of which about 20% is DHA, which is required for healthy synapse formation, mood regulation, babies’ brain development in the womb and during breastfeeding. So if you visit a nutritional therapist or read any advice about which supplements to take, Omega 3 is always the first one on the list. Widely believed to be one of the main reasons we developed as a human race to become the intelligent beings that we are, anthropological research shows that populations based near the sea or rivers developed intelligence at a much faster rate because they ate lots of fish.

R: We know it helps improve mood and but anything else?

M: There are many other health benefits for all ages and most people in western societies have an Omega 3 deficiency, so it’s a great addition to any health regime. At the moment we have guides on our website about depression, skin, acne, pregnancy, and joints. We’re about to add a great guide on hormonal health as there’s great evidence for the benefits of Omega 3 for female health too.

R: What surprised you most about setting up your own company?

M: I was most surprised by how excited other people get and how much everyone wants to help. We’ve had so many lovely brands, fitness experts, nutritional therapists and journalists (among others) who are so supportive and have helped us along the way.

R: What does a typical day look like to you?

M: I get up at 5:45 to get my three kids out the door at 7:15. That’s a stressful hour and a half! I get back home around 8:30 and eat some eggs and drink a lot of tea. I normally start working in our home office around 9. My day involves a lot of catching up with my team, checking on production, signing off content for our website and checking on financials. I normally stop around 5 and start making the kids’ dinner so it’s ready when they get home around 6:30. Then I make dinner for me and my husband, we eat around 8:30 and then flop for a bit in front of Netflix!

R: What inspires or motivates you?

M: I’m a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Women in Enterprise at Westminster. It’s a cross party group that advises on government policy to get more women starting and growing businesses. I’m hugely motivated by being a woman in my mid forties and showing my children what we can achieve. I guess I’m inspired by a competitive streak to do better than my male counterparts and to do business in a ‘female’ way, which is gentler and more sustainable.

R: What new and exciting thing are you most looking forward to currently?

M: We’ve moved our office out of Brighton into a barn next to my house and we’re in the process of doing it up. It means we can have meetings in the garden and my team can go for a swim after a long day! We’re also launching a new Omega 3 geared towards mental health and we’ve joined up with a great mental health charity, so some of the sales proceeds will support people who are suffering. Watch this space…

R: What’s the one thing you’d love to do but haven’t yet got round to?

M: I’d love to do single serve samples of our liquid fish oil. People want to try it, understandably, to check the like the taste. We haven’t found a way to do it yet as it’s so expensive and fish oil is tricky to handle.

R: Tell us about your relationship to beauty and self-care / how do you balance your work and personal life?

M: I’ve always been into eating real food, partly because I grew up in Spain where people don’t eat much junk food (or they didn’t in the 80s). I eat well 80% of the time, mainly meat, fish and vegetables. At weekends I indulge in carbs, wine and chocolate! I drink loads of water which helps keep everything working and keeps my skin clear.

I’m fairly lazy when it comes to my skincare routine to be very honest and I’m not a beauty junkie. I take our Lion Heart Omega 3 every day which helps my mood, my hormones and my skin. I also take magnesium at night to help me sleep.

In terms of balancing work and personal life, I stop at around 5PM and focus on the children and home. I could do with carving out a bit more time for myself, to exercise or meditate, but I generally don’t! It’s super tricky balancing everything, but I do make sure weekends are as relaxing as possible with some time to exercise and unwind.

R: What do you do to relax and unwind?

M: I wander round my garden with my German Shepherd puppy in tow. I go for countryside walks. I also eat and drink with friends and family, most weekends involve a barbeque at the moment!

R: What’s your favourite way to get moving?

M: Playing tennis, definitely. We’re very fortunate to have moved to a house with a tennis court. I’m saving up for a ball machine so I can play by myself.

R: What book is on your bedside table?

M: I always have loads of books on the go and never seem to finish any of them. The last novel I read was ‘How to stop time’ by Matt Haig. I really loved it, as did my 12 year old.

R: What the last piece of clothing your bought?

M: A gorgeous A line skirt from M&S, which comes in loads of colours. Looks ace with a white shirt. I bought it in cornflower blue and beige.

R: Theatre, art gallery or cinema?

M: The last thing I saw at the theatre was Hamilton. My eldest daughter is obsessed and knows all the words off by heart. I have to say, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage. A must see.

R: Last song you downloaded?

M: An oldie…Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart! Heard it on a TV show recently and remembered what a great sing-a-long it is for the car.

R: Where are you going on holiday this summer?

M: We’re actually not going away this summer as we’ve recently moved house, so we’re a bit broke but also keen to enjoy our new home. We live in Sussex near Brighton, so we feel like we’re in a holiday spot all the time. If we need to get away, we normally go to Cornwall, Scotland, Galway or Devon. We love the UK and Irish countryside and are not massively into hot sun! I grew up in Spain as a teenager, so I do love going back there and I studied Italian at University so that’s a favourite too.

R: Let’s talk about skincare, what’s your desert island skincare product?

M: I’ve never liked eye creams, always too heavy or they make my eyes sting. I recently tried the Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream and I’m a total convert. It feels super light, doesn’t make my eyes sting at all and I’ve definitely noticed a difference to the lines.

R: And your favourite scent?

M: Weirdly, I really went off any kind of perfume when I was pregnant and haven’t been able to wear any since. Other people’s perfume can also give me headaches now! However, if I were to choose a scent it would be something fresh and citrusy.

R: Finally, to finish off, your favourite indulgence?

M: I rarely have pedicures because I just can’t justify spending time on myself in that way when I juggle kids, business and home. But, when I do have one, I just love how my toes look.

Thanks, Melanie! To find out more about Bare Biology, you can visit their website here



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Meet the woman who made fish oil fashionable
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