I still shudder remembering the spoonfuls of fish oil that my mother or grandmother gave me when I was a child. Fresh fish wasn’t available all year round in Moscow, like it is now, but my family members were intent on making sure I would grow up rosy-cheeked and healthy, hence the much dreaded spoonful of daily fish oil-how the times have changed.
Picture a modern woman with a background in marketing & advertisement. Add to that being a mother of three and an interest in nutrition, stemming from the fact that she wants to raise her children healthy and happy. That woman’s name is Melanie Lawson and she is the founder of Bare Biology & creator of Lion Heart Omega 3 Fish oil, an oil a teaspoon of which contains EPA & DHA in a natural triglyceride form that our bodies recognise & absorb, unlike many counterparts on the supplement market.
Every baby book you will read, if you are a mother or are getting ready to become one, will stress the importance of Omega 3 and the need for you to incorporate fish into your child’s diet from very young age. The trouble is that most fish has a strong taste/smell and babies might be reluctant to try it. For this reason we probably don’t eat enough oily fish, hence the need for a good Omega 3 supplement. The question is, how do you find one that is reliably good? In my case, I was initially won by Melanie’s enthusiasm and openness when we met. There were no gimmicks and no wonder promises, she just went over the facts with me, answered my questions and gave me a bottle of the oil to try ( white box & glass bottle, both lemony yellow, got my visual vote even before five seconds were up ). According to Melanie ‘the secret to Lion Heart oil taste is in its freshness and no rancidity with a lemony undertone and nothing else’ and that is exactly how it tastes – a mellow but unmistakable fish oil with a hint of lemon. Now I religiously take a spoonful a day or add it to a seafood pasta dish – just make sure that it isn’t boiling hot when you drizzle the oil lightly over, or you will destroy its nutritional content with heat.
One of the things that makes Lion Heart stand out, in my eyes, is that it has a five-star rating from the International Fish Oil Standards Programme, which guarantees that a particular product is free from heavy metals or environmental contaminants ( like mercury that you might have in your teeth fillings, larger fish, like tuna, salmon or cod, tends to have more of accumulated heavy metals and can possibly cause health issues ). IFOS tests every batch of the bottled product independently, which is an added guarantee that you are getting what is actually promised on the bottle – in our day and age many manufacturers tend to cut corners, in order to maximise their own profit margins, making consumers lose out by definition. In addition, Bare Biology actually provides its certificates of analysis on their website and to me it is quite reassuring to see the numbers for myself – I tend to walk away from brands, if they omit information or ignore questions posed to them. Honesty is key when engaging with your customers, as far as I am concerned !
5 ml spoon of Lion Heart contains 3,500 mg Omega 3 of which 1,995 mg EPA & 1,140 mg DHA and you can decided on the dose, depending on the support that you feel you need at the moment in time. I take one teaspoon a day. This oil can be taken by pregnant women ( unlike fish liver oils it doesn’t contain any vitamin A, with which you need to be careful when expecting ) and you can give one drop a day to your children -mine, after giving me a suspicious look, became more than willing testers and now are like baby penguins, expecting mother penguin to put it directly in their beaks.
Some of you might argue that a bottle of fish oil that lasts you a month, if you take a teaspoon a day, and costs £47.50 is expensive and I won’t argue with you, as it was my original thought as well, but having trialled this oil for a month and actually loving its taste, I will beg to differ. Another argument, if you need convincing, is that for the equivalent amount of EPA and DHA from well-know brands ( I actually saw comparison statistics ) it would cost you significantly more. A while back I tried an Omega 3,6, 7 & 9 supplement from a well-known brand and having never reacted to supplements before, within a week I actually started getting sick – initially I thought I had a stomach flu but within a day or two the coin dropped that I actually felt sick shortly after taking that oil, so to say that I approached trialling this fish oil with caution would be quite accurate.
I believe in treating our skin from inside out and Omega 3 Fish oil plays a big part in our daily health & beauty maintenance routine. Oily fish is known for helping boost our skin membrane ( i.e. having a more plumped up complexion ), improving brain function & maintaining good vision; it can help lower cortisol levels and improve your metabolic rate ( it also helps to increase our body’s response to insulin and burn fat more efficiently, when combined with a sensible diet and regular exercise ), it is beneficial for the normal functioning of the heart & blood triglyceride levels, as well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Omega 3 is also known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on our cells. The two active ingredients in Omega 3, the above mentioned DHA & EPA, assist the cell renewal process that slows down and becomes less efficient as we age ( we all need good fats in our diet, as it sustains our body, as well as our normal brain function – DHA plays a significant part in that ).
As far as Melanie’s approach is concerned , quality of her supplement starts with the fish and Lion Heart oil is made from small, wild oily fish ( wild sardine, anchovy and mackerel that live in clean waters in the deep southern Pacific Ocean. All three of those types of fish are not only naturally high in Omega 3 but are also lower in environmental toxins because they don’t eat other large contaminated fish & have a shorter life span, which gives them less time to build up pollutants in their bodies ).
Q & A with Melanie Lawson, founder of Bare Biology
GAP: Melanie, tell me a little bit about your professional background and what led you to create Bare Biology and Lion Heart?
ML: For ten years I had a career in marketing and advertising client service, working on brands including Sainsbury’s and the BBC. I followed the well-trodden path of giving it all up to have children, moving out of London and trading meeting rooms for cold and windy parks. Being a mother is truly amazing and my children are the centre of my universe, but I was lacking intellectual challenges and had completely lost my sense of self. To be really honest, I was a bit bored as well. I’ve always wanted my own business and was a “wantrepreneur” for years, dreaming up all kinds of ideas and plans.
I felt a bit depressed after having my second child and with a serious history of depression in my family, I didn’t want to go down that road. I’ve always had a keen interest in nutrition and eating for wellbeing, so I started researching and noticed that Omega 3 is repeatedly recommended for mental health. I also wanted a really powerful supplement because the successful clinical trials I read all used high doses. In addition, I wanted a guarantee of purity. Both these things were very hard to find in the UK ( note: Lion Heart is made in Norway but packaged in the UK ) and I felt I’d spotted a gap in the market. I started looking into it and it just went from there.
GAP: Why did you call your company Bare Biology and the product Lion Heart?
ML: One of the things that really stood out when I was researching the vitamin and supplement market was the lack of transparency and information provided by companies. I wanted a brand name that would reflect our openness and clarity of message. We don’t hide anything and we want it to be as easy as possible for consumers to work out if they want our product or not. So, that’s the “Bare” bit. ”Biology” is because it’s all about the internal workings of our body and doing the best we can to help people be healthy. We also have big plans to expand our offering outside of supplements, but still in wellbeing, and it’s a name that can encompass many things.
”Lion Heart”, it’s an odd one for fish oil, right? There are several reasons. I wanted to create a brand with personality, something hugely lacking in this category. To simply call it a generic name or something like “Super Strength Omega 3” seemed both boring and as a new brand, we needed to really stand out and be memorable. Omega 3 is phenomenally good for your heart and the name is intended to infer the key product benefit.
GAP: What makes Lion Heart Omega 3 oil different from others on the market?
ML: I could write several pages on this, but I’ll try to keep it brief! It has the highest concentration of EPA and DHA available (the two essential fatty acids in Omega 3 that we need), which means you only need a little to get a therapeutic, meaningful dose. It’s the only British brand that’s certified by the International Fish Oil Standards programme, which means it’s guaranteed to be pure and clean. No heavy metals or nasty contaminants. It’s in the natural triglyceride form (most supplements are Ethyl Esters), which is 70% more absorbable. It tastes really good because it’s so fresh and has been handled very carefully ( many fish oils are rancid which is why you get the dreaded fishy burps ).
GAP: Why are Omega 3s so important from the nutritional point of view for adults, as well as children?
ML: It’s probably one of the most important nutrients on the planet, recommended by health experts and authorities for hearts, brains, eyes and skin. The two key fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are called “essential” because we can’t make them, so we have to consume them. Some of the healthiest nations in the world have very high levels of Omega 3 in their blood and tissues. It’s highly anti-inflammatory properties are what helps to keep us healthy, but also these fatty acids are building blocks for our cells. Our skin, cerebral cortex, eyes and sperm are largely made of DHA for example. This is why it is imperative for children to have enough Omega 3 (they’re sadly the group that is most at risk of being deficient ), as it allows their brains and vision to develop healthily. There’s so much evidence that those with good levels of Omega 3 perform better at school, have calmer behaviour and better immune responses.
There’s so much to say about this, but I’ll leave you with a few key points:
– Omega 3, in high doses, has been proven to reduce blood pressure and blood triglycerides ( both precursors to heart disease, diabetes and strokes ).
– It has been proven to improve the reading in under-performing seven-year olds.
– It is one of the single most effective things you can do for healthy skin, from anti-ageing to serious conditions like Psoriasis.
GAP: How do you take Lion Heart and do you take any other supplements to compliment your daily nutritional intake?
ML: I take it straight off the spoon, just before my lunch. Depending on how I feel, I either have a teaspoon or a desert spoon. I religiously take probiotic capsules in the morning, Vitamin D3 during the long winter and Elderberry extract when I feel a cold coming on.
GAP: Some might argue that your fish oil is somewhat expensive, can you tell me a little about your chosen price point?
ML: This is one of my biggest challenges, trying to explain why it’s not expensive! On the face of it, compared to standard brands, it seems pricey. However, it’s the comparison of cost per gram of EPA and DHA that matters. The average cost per gram is 74p, ours is 51p. This practical example will illustrate the point best:
For normal blood pressure, 3g per day of EPA & DHA is the recommended dose (EFSA approved claim). If you took a well-known, average priced, 1,000mg capsule this is what it would mean: 2 capsules contain 214 mg of EPA & DHA, you’d need to take 28 of them! Now, that’s 28 x 1,000 mg capsules of which only 214 mg is EPA & DHA and the remaining 22,000 mg (22g!) is fish fat with no nutritional value. You would have an upset stomach. You’d be consuming 220 calories. It would cost £2.38 a day. A 5 ml spoon of Lion Heart = 3,135 mg EPA &DHA, 45 calories and costs £1.58.
GAP: Do you have any special tips on taking Lion Heart?
ML: Some of my customers swig it straight from the bottle! Take it with or around food, as it’s easier to digest. You can also add it to a salad dressing ( there’s a recipe on my website ) or add it to a green smoothie, as long as it’s cold. As you know, it does taste pretty good, but a sip of water or eating something straight after immediately removes any taste residue.
GAP: What’s next for Bare Biology & what are the challenges that you face as a founder/owner of a small business?
ML: Immediate plans are to expand the range and add international shipping to my website ( spurred by huge interest from the USA & Australia ). I’m also going to launch a capsule version of Lion Heart for those who don’t like liquid, a children’s product and some other top-secret but very exciting innovations that should shake up the supplement business!
The challenges are endless, but the main ones are cash flow, finding suppliers who will do small volumes for me without charging the earth and continuing to build brand awareness to get our name out there. Once people find us, they stick with us, but it’s a very cluttered and price-sensitive market.
GAP: What are the lessons that you have learnt since starting Bare Biology that continue to serve you well ?
ML: To accept that there are good days and bad days. Being an entrepreneur is such a roller-coaster and can be incredibly difficult to stay motivated. Excitement and disappointment jump around inside my heart like a yo-yo most days and I just have to remind myself that it’s the journey I have to travel.
To be honest and humble. I’ve never pretended to be something I’m not and I’m too honest sometimes. Some people tell me to lie and say I have employees, look bigger than I am, but I think the fact that it’s just me gains more respect.
To be as charming, friendly and collaborative as possible. It sounds obvious but it’s something I’ve learned early on in my previous career in Advertising Client Service. So many businesses go under because they’re just grumpy or unhelpful.
To just do stuff and see what happens. I’m a born perfectionist and I suffer from OCD, so I want everything to be 100% is my comfort zone. However, that doesn’t work in business – you’d never get anything done. My approach now is ‘Aim, fire, range’, do it and correct it en route.
Dream Big. I don’t want a “lifestyle” business, I want an OBE! I want my brand to become a household name. There’s no point aiming small, because small is what you’ll get.
Finally, I always remind myself of this famous quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. If I look at other businesses and think “oh, they’re doing so much better than me – I’m rubbish”, I feel awful. It’s a futile, negative and pointless exercise.
GAP: What are your secrets to combining the roles of a wife, a mother of three children and a successful entrepreneur?
ML: The way you ask that question suggests I’m pulling it off! I generally feel that I’m failing in one or all of these departments, most of the time. However, if I’m not so hard on myself, I think the secret is to give your full attention to each one at that moment in time. I accept that after school pick-up, I’m not going to get much done and my children need me. I compartmentalize my day into the three different roles, something mothers get very good at, after a while. My husband is very excited about my business, so he’s supportive and I use him as a sounding board. I also make sure I relax and do some exercise, I’m no good to anyone if I’m stressed and exhausted.
GAP: Does being a woman work for or against you, when approaching retailers and growing your business?
ML: It’s a very good question. I think it helps if I’m dealing with other women because they appreciate how hard it is to be a female entrepreneur and mother, so you get a bit more kudos. It works against me when dealing with suppliers, they’re generally middle-aged men who think I’m a housewife with a hobby project, so I’m always at the bottom of their priority list! Also, I think it goes against me with some tougher retailers or wholesalers that require a more bullish approach, but this is because I’m not very good at the hard, aggressive sales pitch. I’m generalising horribly, but I think men are much better at that.
Bare Biology Lion Heart costs £47.50 for 150 mls. Once opened it should be kept out of direct sunlight, in the fridge, for up to 3 months.
List of ingredients: Fish oil from sardine, anchovy & mackarel; Vitamin E ( tocopherol ) & natural Sicilian lemon oil.
It is available to buy from the following stockists: www.barebiology.com, Liberty of London, Nutricentre at London’s Hale Clinic and Dolphin House Clinic, Brighton.