Kate Prince is the Founder of Ancient + Brave: a range of pure, potent and sustainable supplements designed to help you think, feel and look your best. Formulated alongside Head of Nutrition Jo Woodhurst, their collagen ranges revitalise and rebuild from the inside out.
Ancient + Brave pairs ancient knowledge with modern innovation: could you tell us a little more about what this means, and where this passion stems from?
Kate: at Ancient + Brave, we believe that the wisdom of past generations can help us in our everyday lives. We draw on traditional wisdom, the blueprint for health set out from our ancestors and combine it with modern science to create products that are both effective and innovative. Our passion lies in truly helping our community to feel well and live well, at the same time as caring for the health of our planet. Our health is intricately tied to the health of our environment and how we all support each other – we must nurture both at the same time, and this need fuels the brand.
Why did you decide to focus specifically on collagen?
Kate: I saw the challenges in the market surrounding sustainability, packaging and quality of the products and knew I wanted to develop and source the best products available that provided this alternative. We now have a whole range of collagen – we created our own vegan ‘collagyn‘ and it took a long time to source our new pure marine collagen from wild caught fish, as well as some beautiful blends like our popular Cacao + Collagen or Coffee + Collagen, with added botanicals, nutraceuticals and nootropics.
This is just the beginning though, we have an exciting pipeline of new products coming over the next year which builds on these and continues to address the health needs of our Ancient + Brave community and I cannot wait to talk more about them very soon!
Could you explain the difference between botanicals, nutraceuticals and nootropics?
Jo: It’s fair to say that there are a lot of nutritional buzzwords out there, which can be confusing!
Nutraceutical is simply a term bringing together the words ‘nutrient’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ and is an umbrella term used to describe the enormous amount of products which are essentially derived from food but also have very specific beneficial effects on our health (e.g. Vitamin E).
Nootropics on the other hand are a specific type of nutraceutical, with the intent to boost your cognitive ability, focus, memory and mental performance. Some nootropics you’ll know already – caffeine for example. We also love MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) at Ancient + Brave, which can be used for a daily boost and is great for those who practise fasting. Some nootropics are synthetic, whilst others are more natural so it’s worth exploring the origin of these ingredients. An interesting mechanism in which they are reported to work is by increasing energy and blood flow to the brain, providing important nutrients and oxygen flow, as well as protecting the brain from ageing.
Botanicals are plant derived compounds known for their medicinal and healing properties – I love botanicals as it’s mother nature’s wisdom working at it’s best; compounds which provide the plant with protection, but also ones our body’s recognise and can use for its own benefit. Botanicals are often seen as more preventative than reactive – you’d use them day-to-day, however some botanicals, elderberry for example, are great to take intuitively at the first sign of a sniffle. Some botanicals can also be nootropics, such as cacao or turmeric which are seen as brain protective in this sense. As you can see there’s an overlap with all of these terms. Botanicals can be nootropics which can also be nutraceuticals!
Where do you source your ethical suppliers?
Kate: We do not stop! We leave no stone unturned in our mission and work hard to ensure that all of our suppliers meet our high ethical and sustainability standards. I absolutely love developing new products and sourcing organic, innovative ingredients. We work with suppliers all over the world to bring together the best ingredients we can find. It’s obviously crucial that our products are potent and efficacious so we are really rigorous in our testing and developing phase, it takes such a long time! We source organic ingredients wherever possible and always choose natural sources. Our iodine comes from Hebridean seaweed which is sustainably wild-harvested around the remote islands of the Scottish Outer Hebrides and our vitamin D3 is sourced from natural algae.
Jo: Sourcing our ingredients is a huge process. We are obsessed with finding the highest quality ingredients which must be efficacious, well tolerated and absorbed. On top of this, as a B Corp, it’s vital that our ingredients are kind to the planet and organic where possible. That’s a long, often complicated, ask for suppliers and as such we go to a range of different, trusted growers and suppliers for our range of different ingredients so we can check off all our needs directly.
What are your favourite products from the range right now?
Kate: I start everyday with the same ritual of Cacao + Collagen with added True Collagen. I don’t wear a lot of makeup but do really look after my skin and this truly nourishes my skin.
Jo: I honestly love all of them and use them all intuitively, depending on what I feel my body needs each day. The ones I use most regularly are the True Collagen, True MCT oil and Cacao + Collagen. My morning coffee always has a scoop of collagen in it, even when I went on holiday I took my sachets with me. It’s so easy to add as it doesn’t change the smell or taste but as it’s also a small dose of protein, and contributes towards my protein intake at breakfast. When I need a brain boost, I pop some MCT oil in my coffee too and whizz it in the blender to make a super creamy drink.
Some days I choose to break-my-fast a bit later in the day so the MCT is great to keep me going and I’ve also found it’s a good way to sustain my energy when I workout. The Cacao + Collagen is such a balancing drink, I often have this in the afternoon or evening and find the ashwagandha really grounding, plus it’s so delicious it feels like such an indulgence!
In terms of the health benefits, is there a difference between the cattle, fish and vegan derived supplement ranges?
Jo: This is a great question and yes, there are some differences. For this it’s important to understand the different ‘types’ of collagen, not just the source. The type of collagen depends on the different locations in the body it’s found. To date, 28 types of collagen have been identified, however in the human body around 90% of collagen are types I, II and III. Often with most Bovine Collagen, you find both collagen types I and III, however our True Collagen product is only Type I – just like our Marine product.
Importantly, Type I collagen is the most abundant and strongest type of collagen found in the human body, meaning it works the most effectively throughout healing and rebuilding tissues. As you find type 1 in both of our collagen products, the health benefits are incredibly similar. Another slight difference in terms of health lies in the slightly smaller particle size of marine based collagen, which means this source of collagen is potentially absorbed more efficiently. This may be an important factor if you have any digestive issues or have experienced any digestive discomfort with other collagen sources.
The other differences really remain in dietary preference or if you have any allergies or intolerances. Bovine collagen is free from the top 14 major allergens making it a preferred product for those especially with shellfish or fish allergies, whereas marine collagen is a great choice for those on a pescatarian or halal diet. As plants do not create their own collagen, there isn’t a natural vegan source of pure collagen per se – however by supplementing with collagen-specific amino acids and Vitamin C for the synthesis of collagen, we can use this as a ‘vegan’ substitute.
The long amino acid chains that help to form the large collagen molecule are mainly created from just 5 key amino acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, arginine and alanine. Therefore, instead of using a direct animal source of collagen peptides, good quality vegan ranges contain generous amounts of all 5 of these amino acids – from vegan or fermented sources. Vitamin C is a key cofactor for the enzymes which build new collagen molecules, therefore products which feature this as an additional extra will further support the body in the natural production of collagen.
The Botanical Business
What have been the pros and cons of your B Corp certification journey?
Kate: The B Corp certification process was a rigorous one, it takes a long time, but it has been incredibly valuable for our business. We have been able to connect with other B Corps and learn from their experiences, and the certification has helped us connect with customers who are looking to support businesses that are committed to social and environmental responsibility. It’s honestly a privilege to be part of the movement and witness the change of the business landscape.
How has this affected your company growth trajectory?
Kate: Being a B Corp has definitely helped us stand out in a crowded market and attract customers who share our values. We believe that our commitment to social and environmental responsibility will only become more important as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact their purchasing decisions can have.
What has been your biggest lesson, fear, or failure?
Kate: My biggest lesson has been to trust my instincts and stay true to my vision, just stay in my lane. Don’t be distracted by competition.
Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?
Kate: I’m lucky to have the support of a number of brilliant women as advisors, as well as a growing team of over 20 women working for Ancient + Brave now. I’m hugely grateful to be surrounded by such passion and purpose. I’m very fortunate to have Renee Elliot, founder of Planet Organic, as a mentor. She’s wonderfully wise, and I love one of her sayings which is ‘don’t overestimate what you can do in a day, but don’t underestimate what you can do in a year’.
If you did not have your own company, what would you be doing?
Kate: I actually previously worked as a media lawyer, working on many TV programs – from reality to documentaries!
If time and money were no object – what would be on your to do and to see list?
Kate: I still have a lot more to do with Ancient + Brave, but in the future I have two dreams. Firstly to support female entrepreneurs in their journey – I want to return what I’ve learnt about business to the next generation. Secondly I have a dream of owning and converting a Sprinter Van and travelling through Europe, I have extensive Pinterest boards dedicated to the details of it!