Just before the Leapfrog light bulb moment in 2018, I’d called a scientist, Dr Nicholas Larkins, to ask about natural remedies to promote gut health and potentially stop the endless cycle of colds that skipped home from our sons’ nursery and rampaged through our home.
The Power Of Lactoferrin
Nick mentioned lactoferrin. It was the first time I’d heard the word and, being a curious journalist type, I did some research and tried it myself. It worked. Over the course of the next 6 months, the dripping noses and pesky coughs were noticeably reduced, and my cynical husband and I have come to rely on it at the faintest splutter.
Our bodies produce lactoferrin every day as a vital component of our immune system. Here was a natural active – derived from cow’s milk – that works in synch with the body. I knew lactoferrin could benefit many people, not least the other plate-spinning mums at the nursery’s door. I wanted to bring a branded lactoferrin product to the UK market that people could trust. The only stumbling block was I had no idea where to start. I had ZERO experience.
I needed to be convinced before I got started, so I pulled together a dossier of facts that scrutinised the evidence on lactoferrin. There are currently 8,900 scientific papers on lactoferrin, and I contacted some of the scientists who had written them (one of them, Dr Marian Kruzel, later joined the Leapfrog team).
I also tracked down health gurus and wellness industry leaders for advice. One contact led to another, and I was always surprised and grateful at how ready people were to give me time.
Getting Wonderful Business Advice
The super-nutritionist Amelia Freer suggested I talk to Melanie Lawson, who had launched the much-admired Bare Biology brand on the back of a passion for high-quality omega-3 supplements. Over a coffee in Victoria Station, Melanie kindly talked me through her favourite manufacturing contacts and explained the regulatory stumbling blocks ahead. “It’s a roller coaster,” she said of running one’s own business, “and once you start it’s hard to get off.”
I sat on a bench in Soho with Adam Kelliher who had founded the hugely successful Equazen omega 3 brand for children. A former journalist himself, he was frank about how tough it was going to be, but that being able to communicate well was a big advantage. “Once you push the go button, you’ve got to run with it all the way. Live, think, and breathe your brand,” he warned, adding, “and, by the way, this is going to cost you £200k.” My heart sank. I had a tenth of that budget.
Then, by chance during the interval at a play, I met the luminous and multi-talented Kate Prince of Ancient + Brave collagen supplements. She radiated energy: “You can do this,” she said confidently when I told her about the concept, “And you do not need £200k – you need a mentor. Would you like me to introduce you to Renée Elliott, the founder of Planet Organic?”