Anna Lahey’s Vida Glow is a pivotal player in the multi-billion dollar market for ‘ingestible beauty’, with one unit of Vida Glow’s natural marine collagen now sold every four seconds globally.
Launched in 2014 to bring marine collagen to market, when collagen wasn’t the buzzword that it is today, Lahey has been instrumental in not only building a brand, but a global category that is expected to grow to more than $6.5 billion by 2025.
The market is buzzing thanks to the scientifically proven effects of ingestibles like tablets, powders and food products that contain active ingredients like collagen for supporting clearer skin, stronger nails and hair loss prevention. Australia is prime for this sector, given robust Therapeutic Goods Administration guidelines and Consumer Law requirements meaning the brands are trusted globally.
The market is also growing thanks to Lahey’s own passion for the potential of collagen and the overall ingestible beauty market. Her authenticity, belief in innovation, and willingness to fail, as well as firsthand experience in seeing what marine collagen can do, have contributed extensively to Australia becoming a powerhouse for this market.
“Ingestible beauty is skincare,” she says. “Customers are increasingly moving to prevention over cures, and innovation and creating quality products is key to the nutri-cosemetics market, which is only going to further boom over the next decade. Increasingly, we’re seeing the opportunity to further address this connection between internal and external health, and target specific concerns accordingly.”
Lahey owns the world’s number one marine collagen brand, stocked globally in stores ranging from Selfridges to Bloomingdales – and locally in Australia by Sephora, David Jones, and Myer.
Vida Glow’s core product is Vida Glow Marine Collagen, which promotes optimal skin function by delivering micronutrients to the collagen matrix below the dermis. The product addresses the decrease of collagen, which begins from our mid-twenties and is reflected in signs such as wrinkles, sagging skin, finer hair or gray hair.
Lahey’s been providing education on the importance of collagen supplementation since launch, aiming to “break the stigma” around the skepticism questioning collagen’s efficacy, investing in clinical trials, and working with external skin experts to get them on board with strong clinical evidence.
She’s also personally benefited from marine collagen, having discovered its potential while holidaying overseas in 2012 and taking it every day. For years she had been dealing with extensive hair loss and had tried everything to make it stop. With marine collagen – which she discovered Japanese women had been taking for hundreds of years — she says she was finally able to reduce the hair loss she was suffering with.
Compelled by the results she was seeing personally by taking marine collagen, she moved to personally invest in understanding the scientific evidence behind it.
“Even ten years ago, the clinical data was showing that this was a legitimate solution to the problem I was facing, and similar problems others face around aging. I could see the potential to grow an entire category, rather than just a brand,” she says.
But Lahey adds that at the time they also knew it would take a lot of work building a business in this space, especially being one of the first ingestible brands on the market.
So she got to work – launching the day of her wedding to Kieran Lahey at the age of just 25 and building and dramatically growing the business to become the pivotal brand in this fast-growing market, while also contributing to the research and understanding of the ingestible beauty category. Together with her husband, they started wholesaling Vida Glow to health food stores within just two years of launch, with the company exploding globally initially after winning the love of Chinese consumers in 2017, and later again during the pandemic as beauty consumers started shifting to what they could achieve via products at home.
Core to their success is the research that goes into the products — particularly their investment in research and development and overall appetite for trial and error. That means that products they’ve put significant work into developing can end up binned if they aren’t satisfied with the results.
“We are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with ingestible beauty. That means we need to deal with failure along the way. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing hard enough,” Lahey says.
Also central to their success is how Lahey manages her team. Almost 95 per cent female and headquartered in Sydney, the team’s growing fast. As a mother of young children, including her fourth who arrive just weeks prior to speaking with Forbes, Lahey knows firsthand how hard it can be to navigate business and new motherhood.
“The people who are instrumental in the success and growth of your business need to feel supported, nourished, and heard. You need to have a great relationship with them and an open door to hear their ideas as well as their challenges. The greatest lesson I’ve learned in business is to invest in people.”
She also knows personally the value of hard work. When you have passion and belief in your product, you do what’s required no matter how exhausting it is.
“You just put in what it takes. And everything we do, I personally believe in 100 per cent. I am taking or using all the products on a daily basis, and I’m proud to be involved in every part of the product development and business operations, from concept to production and customer service.”
Coming up with, and then responding to, an excellent idea underpins it all. In searching for a solution to a challenge Lahey had been personally dealing with, she found an idea that had huge potential to be marketed globally. She is passionate about marine collagen and the overall future potential of the ingestible beauty market. As an innovator, she urges others to push boundaries on what they can achieve with a business rather than following a trend.