July 2023

Graduate Darcy’s collagen-boosting brand takes beauty world by storm

By Killoran Wills

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A go-getting graduate from University College Birmingham is providing a critical ingredient in a multi-million pound brand taking the beauty world by storm. 

Former student Darcy Laceby used her study expertise to launch Absolute Collagen, propelling her onto the Forbes list of 30 entrepreneurs under 30 to watch. 

The kitchen table business is now a UK best-seller with celebrity endorsements, including broadcaster Emma Willis as the face of its latest campaign, a turnover of more than £20 million and a £45m valuation. Absolute Collagen also recently became a Certified B Corporation, demonstrating the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. 

At just 26, co-founder Darcy is now Chief People and Product Officer and involved in all aspects of the business. It started when her mother, Maxine Laceby, experienced positive skin and wellbeing benefits thanks to her homemade bone broths and set out to create a product that others could benefit from.  

She credits daughter Darcy, who studied a food development degree at the University’s Summer Row campus, for giving it the professional edge because Darcy was able to analyse the key component of bone broth, collagen, to understand its benefits.  

"University College Birmingham allowed me to pursue a degree in something that I am passionate about, which, in turn, allowed me to bring the beginnings of Absolute Collagen into the classroom to explore further."

Darcy Laceby Graduate and co-founder of Absolute Collagen

She learned these skills in the University’s Food Science and Innovation Suite, which helps students become multi-skilled graduates in menu and product development, food technology and nutrition. 

Darcy now leads Absolute Collagen’s product development team – the brains behind their award-winning, marine-based liquid collagen drink and a range of serums and hair products, sourcing only the best clinically approved ingredients that are proven to work.  

She works with their resident dermatologist and a trichologist to get the best results that have seen industry awards flood in from Marie Claire, Woman and Home, Pure Beauty and Glamour magazine. 

Darcy said: “We keep it simple and follow the science. Each pre-mixed 10ml sachet of our liquid collagen drink contains a mighty 8000mg of liquid collagen enriched with Vitamin C and 7.7g of protein to ensure that your body makes the most of every dose - making us the UK’s most concentrated daily collagen supplement available today. 

“University College Birmingham allowed me to pursue a degree in something that I am passionate about, which, in turn, allowed me to bring the beginnings of Absolute Collagen into the classroom to explore further.” 

Co-founders of Absolute Collagen: Graduate Darcy Laceby and mum Maxine

New products and launches are in the pipeline, backed by a £15m investment from Livingbridge. The garage workforce of eight in 2020 has burgeoned into a team of over 50 with a warehouse in Telford and an office in Birmingham and they champion young talent, a good work life balance and a carbon neutral status.  

Senior lecturer Portia Foster, who helped develop and teaches on the Aesthetics BA (Hons) degree, said: “The beauty industry is worth a staggering £27 billion and therefore Darcy’s story is an inspiration to all students, whether on a food, business or aesthetics course.” 

“The industry offers a variety of opportunities which our students are able to tap into as they learn about latest beauty products and techniques.”   

Interested in studying for a food and nutrition or aesthetics degree? Find out more about our degree courses here. 

Find out more about our Enterprise Hive, dedicated to supporting students to set up their own businesses. 

In pictures: Our food development and aesthetics facilities

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