That's brobiz: Who better to go into business with than your best mate
Bromance is booming – especially in the workplace. Laura Topham meets five dynamic duos who have turned bright ideas into thriving businesses
THE NOUVEAU FARMERS
‘We bought a cow from my family farm and from that first batch of beef demand just snowballed’: James Mansfield, left, and James Flower with Molly the dog
THE BOYS James Mansfield, 28, and James Flower, 26, met at agricultural college in Cirencester and want to ‘put farming back in vogue with younger generations’. With Flower’s agricultural background (his father owns a farm) and Mansfield’s food knowledge (he worked as a waiter at the Ivy), they recognised the sometimes inferior quality of supermarket meat and were determined to provide better for their customers.
THE BIZ Delivering ethically reared, top-quality, organic meat direct from Somerset farms to people’s doorsteps. ‘We bought a cow from my family farm, and from that first batch of beef demand just snowballed,’ says Flower. Their company, Field & Flower, now sells bespoke monthly boxes of free-range beef, pork, lamb, chicken and game to customers across Britain, all delivered to the door.
MADE-IT MOMENT Catering for Virgin’s VIP lounge at the V festival last year – their steak baguettes were loved by the likes of Richard Branson, Drew Barrymore, Dizzee Rascal, Pixie Lott and Holly Willoughby.
RANDOM FACT What Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal cook on telly one week, customers order the next. ‘At the moment people want pigs’ cheeks and trotters – the thrifty cuts are really back in fashion.’
Tel: 0845 689 9007, fieldandflower.co.uk
Paul Arad, left, and James Burke
THE BOYS Childhood friends James Burke, 30, and Paul Arad, 31, were studying at Manchester University when James decorated his acrylic art project with ornamental price tags and promptly sold every piece – though none was intended for sale. The business potential was unmissable and Paul jumped on board with his sales skills.
THE BIZ Designing and creating unique, custom-made art installations. Acrylicize boasts huge corporate clients such as British Airways, the BBC, Heathrow Terminal 5, JFK Airport and stadia including Arsenal’s Emirates and Twickenham. ‘We tell the story of the space or company with art,’ says James. ‘We started out using photographic images on acrylic canvases but now use all kinds of materials, from ribbon and copper piping to reclaimed stereo speakers.’
MADE-IT MOMENT Winning the contract to design the art for Wembley Stadium just months after starting out. ‘We’re big football fans, so when it was being built we stood outside and said, “Imagine if we could do this,”’ says Paul. ‘We dared to dream, put everything we had into the business pitch and now our art covers the walls of Wembley, celebrating its glorious past. Since then we’ve believed anything is possible.’
RANDOM FACT George Michael owns the first artwork they produced – the one-of-a-kind piece, with music images mounted on transparent acrylic, was bought by his partner at a charity auction.
Tel: 020 7739 2279, acrylicize.com
‘The biggest thrill for us is seeing our apprentices excel after never having worked before’: Guy Watts, left, and James Gubb with some of the Streetscape gardeners
THE BOYS Frustration at a lack of opportunities for young people drove socially minded schoolfriends James Gubb, 27, and Guy Watts, 28, to start a business. Oxford graduate James was working for think tank Civitas when Guy, a gardener at one of Europe’s most prestigious plant nurseries, spotted a way to combine their skills.
THE BIZ Their social enterprise and landscaping company Streetscape provides apprenticeships for long-term unemployed 18- to 25-year-olds – as well as creating fabulous gardens for customers. ‘Fundamentally we’re about changing the lives of young people through work,’ says James. ‘But if you don’t provide a quality service to clients you won’t provide a quality apprenticeship.’ And happy customers’ recommendations have left them booked up for months ahead.
MADE-IT MOMENT Winning gold at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2011. ‘But the biggest thrill for us is seeing our apprentices excel after never having worked before,’ says James.
RANDOM FACT The idea was born when Guy rowed across the Indian Ocean with a friend – the first pair to do so; 102 days of rowing provided plenty of thinking time…
Tel: 07887 766300, streetscape.org.uk
THE FRO-YO KINGS
'After realising that frozen yoghurt
hadn't hit the UK yet, we resigned from our jobs and invested': Martyn
Pollock, left, and Donald Murray
THE BOYS Throwing paper aeroplanes around the lecture room at Glasgow University, best friends Donald Murray, 29, and Martyn Pollock, 30, knew they weren’t cut out for corporate careers. So when they won jobs with London’s leading law firms their main aim never wavered: to find a way to work for themselves.
THE BIZ The light-bulb moment came while holidaying in New York in 2008, as they tucked into a
pot of frozen yoghurt and realised the product had not yet hit London. ‘Within a year we’d resigned from our jobs and invested our 80,000 savings in opening a store in Camden – despite having no food retail experience whatsoever,’ says Donald. The gamble paid off: they now have seven
Frae outlets in London.
MADE-IT MOMENTS Customers queuing out of the door for the city’s best ‘fro-yo’ every weekend within months of opening; being made official partner of London Fashion Weekend, and winning favour with celebs such as Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Stella McCartney and Laura Bailey.
RANDOM FACT ‘Frae’ means ‘from’ in the old Scottish language. ‘It reflects that our product is fresh from the farm, whereas most frozen yoghurt is made using rehydrated powder mix,’ says Donald.
Tel: 020 7704 6538, frae.co.uk
THE PARTY MAKERS
'It's rewarding seeing people having fun,' says Charlie, who runs some of Prince Harry's favourite nightspots with his friend Duncan: Charlie Gilkes, left, and Duncan Stirling
THE BOYS Charlie Gilkes, 28, and Duncan Stirling, 31, were initially rivals promoting different club nights in London’s Chelsea, but when a venue double-booked their parties they were forced to work together. ‘Pairing up was a brilliant accident, as we realised how much we could achieve as a two-man team,’ says Old Etonian Charlie.
THE BIZ After growing frustrated at promoting other people’s ideas, the pair took the plunge and established their own venues, starting in 2006 with nightclub Kitts on Sloane Square. Some of London’s hottest venues followed – a bar called Barts, 1980s-themed nightclub Maggie’s, and a pizzeria and karaoke joint called Bunga Bunga, named after Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous sex parties. Their venues are known for being fun, unique and popular with the royals (Charlie and Prince Harry are old friends).
MADE-IT MOMENT Bunga Bunga serving more than 2,500 customers a week. ‘Watching our venues become popular has been amazing,’ says Charlie. ‘It’s really rewarding seeing people have fun.’
RANDOM FACT While the rich and famous flock to Barts, many of its decorations came from car-boot sales. ‘We fitted it out at the height of the recession on a shoestring budget,’ says Duncan. ‘Ebay was a godsend.’
maggies-club.com; barts-london.com; bungabunga-london.com