Small Business Heroes

How the Enterprise Investment Scheme helped stop two entrepreneurs going bust

06 Jun 2016

A pair of students who met at university have turned an everyday problem into a successful start-up business after securing funding from investors under the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Alice and Fleurette founded Attollo Lingerie, a website catering for larger bust sized ladies, while studying at Kings College London.

They found all existing designs frumpy and garish so spent their time building up a new brand called Attollo, meaning ‘I lift up, I raise, I excite’ in Latin.

The aim of the business is to make e D+ bras substantially better, focusing on the shape and aesthetics of bras.

Attollo 7

Three years later they have secured funding from investors in return for equity, which means they can fund a factory and launch a range of designs.

This has helped them change from “wi-fi nomads” using free facilities in coffee shops, to sharing plush offices with their investors.

But it hasn’t all be plain sailing.

From bra-fitters to designers

Towards the end of university they were starting to run out of money and had to fund loan repayments.

So they got jobs as bra-fitters and lived on egg sandwiches for three years, as Fleurette explains:

“We had to live on bootstraps for a year and a half. We wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for our parents giving us monthly allowances.

“We took on bra fitting jobs as we had loan repayments but this also helped strengthen our proposition for Attollo Lingerie as it gave us industry knowledge and expertise.”

The future

Attollo 2

Attollo will be run purely online but the girls plan to run bra fitting parties, recognising that the whole process of getting measured for lingerie can be uncomfortable.

So what is the secret to their success? A lot of hard work and networking. They have managed to capture the attention of big fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan by keeping an eye on related stories.

Alice says ultimately you have to be yourself and the right investor will come along, she explains: “We initially had a Kickstarter video and we went to venture capitalist offices and chased people down.”

“We often changed our proposition to emphasise the e-commerce element, but the investors who invested saw us for what we are and weren’t as concerned about the tech side.

Attollo 1

“You need to project what you want the brand to be.”

“You have to have such an unstoppable willpower to immerse your life in it and love it even when it is at rock bottom.”

Keir Wright-Whyte

photo

Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.

  

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