King of Shaves backs Norwich mother’s enterprise after remarkable life turnaround
PUBLISHED: 11:29 21 June 2013
A Norfolk mother who was thrust into hardship when she was left homeless with her autistic son has now launched a business – with help from a high-flying entrepreneur.
Michelle Reece was handed money and support to set up a jewellery-making firm after catching the eye of Will King, the boss of the King of Shaves.
The 37-year-old, of Hemblington, near Norwich, sent the businessman a chance tweet on social networking site Twitter calling for help when the banks turned her down.
And Mr King, who launched his multi-million pound men’s shaving brand in Lowestoft 20 years ago, gave her the cash she needed to reach her £4,000 target, which will pay for a new studio and tools.
It comes after Mrs Reece fell on hard times after she was left struggling to pay her bills when her marriage broke down.
Profile: King of Shaves
Will King founded King of Shaves in Lowestoft with a £15,000 investment in 1993.
His venture was inspired by his own problems with shaving products, forcing him to create his own shaving oil which he developed in his kitchen.
Since then, the firm has grown into a multi-million pound operation, which is now based in Buckinghamshire and has offices in New York,
It aims to rival Gillette as the biggest men’s shaving brand on the high street.
Initially, she and her son moved back into her mother’s home, before all three were evicted when an injury to her back meant she had to stop work and could not pay the rent.
But Mrs Reece, who suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder and ME, has now turned her life around, securing a new home for her family and the money for her business.
She said her venture would have never been possible if it was not for Mr King – and her other financial backers– as her social situation stopped her from securing a bank loan.
She said: “I’ve been blown away by the support I’ve received from Will King. I was being cheeky, and asked him to check out my project, I didn’t expect a retweet, let alone a backer.
“He has become a mini mentor for me over the past few months, giving me business advice and keeping me motivated.”
Mrs Reece launched her business using the Kickstarter website – a funding scheme which allows people to appeal for money to help fund their business ideas.
She received £4,000 in total, including more than £1,150 from Mr King and his associates.
As well as using the funds to set-up her firm, the money will fund her first jewellery project inspired by the British landscape.
Mr King said it was the appeal of helping someone from East Anglia which inspired him to support Mrs Reece.
He said: “I come from Lowestoft and I try to do my best to for Norfolk and Suffolk where I can. She tweeted me because she saw I came from Lowestoft, and I like the Kickstarter projects because they bypass the banks and allow people to launch their own businesses.
“I told her that you have a way to go, but I gave her some money and support and told her to ‘keep swimming’.
“I am just hoping that the project will give her some joy and fun in life.”