Doctor-Led Ingestible Brand Armra Is Betting On Colostrum As The Next Big Wellness Ingredient
“Why isn’t everybody taking this? There’s so much research. It’s been around forever, and yet it’s this undiscovered superfood,” says Dr. Sarah Rahal, MD, a pediatric neurologist with expertise in functional medicine.
She’s talking about colostrum, a substance produced by mammals 48 to 72 hours after the delivery of their offspring containing ingredients that are the building blocks of the immune system. If Rahal had her druthers, the nutrient-rich compound, often referred to as “liquid gold,” would find its way onto wellness shelves everywhere through her brand, Armra.
She’s particularly focused on colostrum’s benefits for the immune barrier. While the beauty and wellness industry over the past few years has galvanized attention on the microbiome, Rahal says it’s only one part of the immune barrier. “Just like we have skin as this physical barrier on the outside of our body to protect us, our immune barrier gives the same thing on the inside of our body,” she explains. “It lines our nose, sinuses, mouth, lungs, gut, urinary and reproductive tract. It’s like our skin on the inside. It’s the interface between everything we inhale and ingest and our bloodstream.”
When the immune barrier is compromised, substances can more easily enter the body and trigger inflammation. “Inflammation is what underpins almost every modern chronic disease,” says Rahal. “Things like autoimmune conditions and cancers, but also the everyday health issues that somebody is struggling with, bloating, constipation, fatigue, mental fog, depression, sleep difficulties, weight gain. All of these things can be linked back to the health of the immune barrier.”
Colostrum has been incorporated into Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Armra uses bovine colostrum, usually a waste product of the dairy industry as cows produce a greater amount than calves need, in its ingestible formula. The formula is designed to be safe to consume for consumers with dairy intolerance. Rahal developed a patent-pending and proprietary cold-extraction technology that removes compounds specifically for cows, and amplifies peptides and bioactives important for the human barrier, including antibodies and prebiotics chosen to feed the microbiome.
Currently, Armra offers a single product, Immune Barrier, which is a powder that can be dissolved in cold beverages. It’s available in flavorless and blood orange varieties. A 30-day supply of flavorless sachets retails for $39.99. The blood orange flavor is priced at $49.99 for a 30-day supply. A bulk tub housing a four-month supply of Immune Revival retails for $109.99, providing a 20% saving.
Rahal launched Armra in 2020 from the spare bedroom of her New York City apartment. She soon executed a rebrand based on customer feedback. “I went out thinking my customers would largely be moms and families who’d want immune protection for their kids and such. The response has been so much broader,” she says. “We have customers of all ages using this product for completely diverse reasons. We have ultra marathon champions, we have 95-year-old grandmas, we have people putting it in their infant formula. The ambition behind the rebrand was to reimagine how we could introduce this superfood to the market in a way that would be really accessible and wouldn’t exclude anybody.”
Rahal says the rebrand makes Armra look gender-neutral and modern, and gives it an editorial and innovative feel. She says,“It speaks to the revival of whole body foundational health and to the innovation behind the product because that’s what really sets us apart in the market.”
After bootstrapping Armra’s launch, Rahal raised a seed round of institutional investment in the spring of last year. She declined to share the size of the round or the participating investors. Buoyed by enormous demand for immunity support due to the pandemic, the company hit a $1 million annual run rate (ARR) in less than six months on the market, selling out three times in 2021. Its third quarter 2021 sales increased by 586% over the previous month.
At the moment, Armra’s revenues are about four to five months ahead of projections. To fuel further growth, Rahal reports the brand will complete its next fundraise by the end of the first quarter of this year. Retail distribution is in the works. Armra is presently sold in direct-to-consumer distribution through its website and Amazon, but Rahal sees the brand as a good fit for niche retailers as well as big-box stores.
“We’ve taken what mother nature has perfected, and we’ve used our technology not to manipulate it to be more modern, but we’ve leveraged technology that allows us to preserve it in its most natural form,” she says. “We wanted to marry the ancestral element of the product with that futuristic innovative element that’s going to allow us to be an evergreen brand.”