Start-Up Loans Success Stories


Solace London is an in-season entry level contemporary fashion brand, offering ranges of separates with a modern graphic elegance. The brand is stocked in major retailers including Selfridges and international online platforms such as  Shopbop and Revolve, as well as selling through their own website

The label was founded by Ryan Holliday-Stevens and Laura Taylor in May 2013 , with the help of mentoring and a Start Up Loan obtained through Fashion Angel.

“Applying for a Start Up Loan, with Delivery Partner Fashion Angel was the perfect solution to help us launch, as apart from the funding , the mentoring support with Alison helped us plan the strategy and develop a robust business plan.”

As partners, they were both able to apply for a loan, using the funding to produce their first sample collection, build their website, create a lookbook and secure studio space.

As the business expanded quickly, further funding was naturally needed, and once again Fashion Angel was able to help by introducing them to their network of growth funding partners to secure additional finance.

As Ryan says  “Don’t underestimate the value of having a good mentor on side –  be willing to learn and listen to advice and make sure you surround yourself with a good support network can help you on your business journey”

Applying for a Start Up Loan, with Delivery Partner Fashion Angel was the perfect solution to help us launch, as apart from the funding , the pre-loan mentoring support with Alison helped us plan the strategy and develop a robust business plan.
Ryan and Laura, Solace
Don’t underestimate the value of having a good mentor like Alison Lewy on side – be willing to learn and listen to advice and make sure you surround yourself with a good support network can help you on your business journey.
Ryan and Laura, Solace
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  • Tailored Athlete
  • Tailored Athlete


Tailored Athlete is a premium menswear brand, designed for those with an athletic physique. They sell both in the UK and internationally, through its own online boutique

The brand was founded by Harry Simonis, and launched in December 2016 with the help of a Start Up Loan. Harry originally went to Loughborough University to study International Business, however he soon realised university wasn’t for him, so dropped out after a few weeks and started working while formulating his ideas for a new business.

The idea for Tailored Athlete was born out of Harry’s own frustration in finding shirts and trousers that fit a muscular physique. After conducting some market research at local gyms he found he was not alone! Understanding his target customer, and what they want, has been a key factor in the success of the brand.

“Once I realised there was a gap in the market, I wanted to understand the industry and learn how to develop a product. The combination of reading Alison Lewy’s “Design Create Sell” book and attending the Fashion Angel workshops really helped me understand the process of bringing a collection to market.

After trading for just under a year, I received the Start Up Loan which meant I was able to scale the business to a higher level. The Start Up Loan application process itself was very smooth and straightforward. The mentoring that came with it enabled me to make informed decisions as my business adviser was really supportive and answered all my questions . “

The first collection just comprised of 2 styles of shirt in a variety of colours, but as the customer base grew, further investment was needed to develop new products and increase the stock to meet the demand. Having proved the demand was there, Harry secured additional finance and introduced casual tops and jeans to the collection.

Initially Harry had to bootstrap so continued to work and run the business from home, but after the first year he was able to give up his freelance income and work full time in the business. He also realised early on that he couldn’t do everything himself and targeted advertising would be the key to success. He outsourced the logistics, and invested heavily in marketing support & targeted advertising. As a result the business grew 5000% from the first year to the second year, enabling him to move to a London office and take on an additional full time employee.

 “The Start Up Loan and additional support from Fashion Angel has been critical to the success of Tailored Athlete. They helped me scale my dream business and I’ve learnt so much from them. Thank you so much!”

Harry plans to establish Tailored Athlete as the market leader for clothes that are designed to fit an athletic physique, and host pop-up stores in major cities internationally.

Watch this space!

Applying for a Start Up Loan, with Fashion Angel was a smooth process.The pre-loan mentoring sessions helped me make a decision about the loan and how best to use it for my business.
Harry Simonis, Tailored Athlete
My business adviser was really supportive and answered all my questions and the ongoing mentoring support has helped me grow the business.
Harry Simonis, Tailored Athlete
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Isabella Ugochukwu founded luxury handbag brand ISABELLA QUEEN  in August 2015. The label produces hand crafted bags using the finest Italian leathers.

Isabelle founded the label after being increasingly frustrated at not being able to find a handbag she liked. Her background in finance gave her a good grounding when she started to develop a business plan, but after investing some of her own funds and attracting support from private investors, it became clear that the high development and marketing costs needed for a luxury brand, meant additional funding would be required to start up the business.

She chose to  apply for a Start Up Loan and work with Fashion Angel as was keen not only to access the finance, but to get guidance from mentors that understood the fashion industry.

The pre loan support  given in applying for the Start Up Loan helped her put together a focused business plan with realistic sales projections. The initial loan helped fund taking stands at trade shows such as Pure London, Premiere Classe and Vendome in Paris, to help her reach high end international retailers. A further Top Up loan helped increase her marketing activities.

Since receiving the loan Isabelle took advantage of the follow on mentoring available, which has been a vital part in the development of the business. As with every business, there has been a steep learning curve – after spending a lot on exhibiting at UK trade shows, Isabelle realised that they should focus on exhibiting in Paris, as there is wider attendance from her target retail buyers.

Although only launched 18 months ago, the brand has received orders from international stockists and achieved considerable press attention from publications such as Collezioni Italy as well as a fast growing social media following. Isabelle was also shortlisted in the Vogue Talents competition for Vogue Italia, and was recently a winner of the  Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2016  and awarded ‘Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the Year’.

ISABELLA QUEEN continues to grow – the plan is to see the brand stocked in luxury department stores and boutiques right across the globe.

Isabelle’s advice for anyone starting out   “Get industry relevant mentors and make sure you do everything they tell you to do”

Working with Fashion Angel and receiving the Start Up Loan was the best thing that ever happened to ISABELLA QUEEN and without it I wouldn’t have been able to launch.
Isabelle Ugochukwu, Isabella Queen
The mentoring from industry experts was always realistic and gave guidance on everything from product development to financing, helping us make a big impact when we launched.
Isabelle Ugochukwu, Isabella Queen
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Charli Cohen founded her eponymous label of sport luxe separates in 2013.

Her background as a Kingston University design graduate, and personal trainer, gives her a unique insight when designing her performance-luxe pieces. Charli applied for a  Start Up Loan to help finance her sample collection and initial production run, as well as exhibiting at trade shows in New York

Since launching the debut collection, the label was bought by UK and international stockists, and has been well received by press and the public. Ongoing mentoring has helped secure further funding and assist her to grow the business in to a global brand.

We are so grateful to Fashion Angel as working with mentors that understand the fashion industry helped us develop a robust business plan and guide me through the loan application process. It’s been so useful to be able to access their expertise as the business grows.
Charli Cohen
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Rachel James founded her eponymous label of British made menswear in January 2015, with business partner Tom Ings.

After graduating from the University of Westminster, and loving the excitement of turning her ideas into reality, Rachel realised there was a gap in the menswear market for luxury streetwear. She believed she could offer something different and desirable, so decided to launch her own label.

They started the business on a part time basis at first, while fleshing out the business strategy, but then the label was spotted by the British Fashion Council and they were invited to show their collection at London Collections Men (LCM). This gave them the impetus to push forward and launch the business full time.

As partners, both Tom and Rachel applied for a Start Up Loan to help finance the brands second collection and to exhibit at trade shows  in London and Paris, as well as to help with general working capital for overheads.

They are now on their third collection, with each one getting stronger and garnering increasing good feedback from journalists, stylists, buyers and customers.  Their fan base is continually growing and they are now supplying independent stockists as well as selling via their own e-commerce store. They have also hosted two successful pop ups, which have helped to increase sales and brand awareness. More are planned, as well as collaborations with creative partners.

Rachel’s advice to budding fashion start-ups  “Don’t rush in to it straight away.  The business is going to eat up so much more money than you think!  People won’t think any less of you if you can’t afford to do it full time at the start. Spend time looking into the right support and funding available and have a clear business strategy in place. Take advantage of the specialist business mentoring offered by Fashion Angel.

You’ll also need lot’s of energy, and be prepared to be flexible and change plans if something isn’t working.”

Fashion Angel have been a great support and a real help getting us where we want to be & encouraging us with strong ideas as we go forward.
Rachel James
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The London Sock Company is a fashion brand, offering ranges of luxury and stylish socks for the modern gent.

The label was founded by friends Ryan Palmer and David Pickard in January 2014, with the help of a Start Up Loan & mentoring, obtained through Fashion Angel.

The brand has experienced rapid growth and is stocked in major retailers including Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, as well as selling through their own londonsockcompany website.

Since launching, they have expanded their product ranges and offer a popular subscription service. The brand also captured the attention of model David Gandy, leading to a collaboration to produce special edition gift boxes.

As partners, they were both able to apply for a loan, using the funding to get their business off the ground and support the running costs until they were generating enough revenue to start taking salaries from the business to live on.

Because the business expanded quickly, further funding was needed and they to date have raised around £1m in seed investment from private angels and VC’s. As David points out ‘However successful your start up is in the early days, it’s virtually impossible to grow as quickly as we have without lots of funding and support. In our case, we’re competing with big (but slow) retailers who have very deep pockets. Yes we’re nimble and quick, but that can only get you so far.’

One of the biggest challenges David and Ryan’s faced was the steep learning curve of digital marketing which neither of them had experience of before they started. However they had no choice other than to learn quickly! The other challenge with any product based business is getting the right supply chain in place and managing the cash flow.

‘Applying for a Start Up Loan, with Delivery Partner Fashion Angel was really useful. We already had a very comprehensive business plan, but it forced us to go through the detail again and make sure we were considering all the key aspects’.

“Fashion Angels support and mentoring made the start up loans process incredibly quick and easy for us. That initial successful loan application gave us the funds to go and create our business.”
Ryan Palmer & David Pickard
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