From Burger King to millionaire fashion boss – The unlikely rise of Great Yarmouth entrepreneur Adam Frisby
- Credit: In The Style
From leaving school with no qualifications to working in Burger King, Adam Frisby has had an unusual journey for a fashion mogul.
Now, in his early 30s, the Great Yarmouth-born entrepreneur is head of his own multi-million pound clothing and social media brand.
Working with reality TV stars and bloggers, his firm In The Style has become one of the fastest-growing clothing companies in the UK and now it has its sights set on the world.
Less than five years after taking the plunge and setting up his own business with just £1,000, his company now employs 115 people and expects to turn over £30m this year – and he urges others to follow their dreams.
Mr Frisby was born in and grew up in Great Yarmouth, attending Cliff Park High School, before a family move to Spain during his teenage years left him struggling to find his place in the world.
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Aged 16, he moved back to England alone to live with a friend in Cambridge, taking a job in Burger King to help make ends meet – a job which he believes helped build his work ethic.
He was driven by an urge to create something for himself, but was unsure what, and without GCSEs, faced an uphill struggle in many traditional jobs.
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A nomadic life followed which saw him work in banking and recruitment in Cambridge and Manchester before his brother suffered a serious accident, leading Mr Frisby to quit work to look after him in Cornwall.
He then returned to Manchester to work with a disability charity before the loss of a government contract led to redundancy.
'I could have signed on but I thought this was the time,' he said. 'I had always wanted to do something for myself but didn't know what it was.
'I felt like I knew social media and loved fashion so I thought I would build a brand around those.
'I didn't have a business model and had done no planning but I thought I would give it a go.'
In August 2013 Mr Frisby created a website and founded In The Style, buying six dresses from a wholesaler and selling them at three times the price through social media.
'I always had a vision, but I only had £1,000,' he said. 'I started with six dresses, then I bought 12 and so on.'
He turned to celebrity and social media influencers to help raise his profile and after getting in touch with The Only Way Is Essex personality Lauren Pope he managed to convince her to work on a range with him, just three months into the business.
'I was still at home, turning over a couple of grand a month but I felt like I could do this,' Mr Frisby said. 'She had a lot of businesses making offers to her at the time but she told me she liked my vision and the idea for a collaboration with her.'
The first collection was launched in March 2014 and sold well, helping to raise the profile of the fledgling brand.
But Mr Frisby then had to juggle the duties of building the brand with the practicalities of packing and sending orders, as demand grew.
Since then Geordie Shore's Charlotte Crosby and Made in Chelsea's Binky Felstead have come on board and the business has continued to grow.
Mr Frisby said he learnt about different parts of the business world as he went along and in 2017, after being approached by several investors, he took an injection of cash from private equity firm Livingbridge to take the business forward.
'I kind of distrusted taking investment at first because I was proud that I had built the business on my own but I realised that I needed investment to get to the next level,' he said. 'For me it was never about taking cash out of the business and it has allowed us to look at international growth and invest in staff and infrastructure.'
The business now employs 115 people and is targeting £30m turnover for the year.
Mr Frisby said: 'For me it is still just my little baby, I don't get the chance to take stock and look at it from the outside.
'Looking back I always believed I could do something like this but I don't think I would have expected to have been so successful.'
Mr Frisby said he believed education was important but said he wanted to send a message that people can follow their dreams.
'A lot of people come out of school and feel quite lost,' he said. 'What my story goes to show is that it is never too late to do what you want to do in life.'