20. Duke & Dexter

Started with just £9,000, this new footwear brand counts Ryan Reynolds, Jonah Hill and Eddie Redmayne among its customers

Founder: Archie Hewlett
Founded: Duke & Dexter
Website: www.dukeanddexter.com

At just 22 years of age, Archie Hewlett is the youngest entrepreneur in this year’s Startups 100 index, but the story of his premium loafer brand Duke & Dexter is also one of the most inspirational.

At the age of 18, Hewlett rejected his place at Durham University and a job in property recruitment to follow his footwear fantasy.

A fan of velvet slippers, Hewlett’s business idea was to produce high quality slip-on shoes for men without the inflated price tag or pretentious associations.

Admitting he “had absolutely no experience in fashion or starting a business”, Hewlett borrowed £9,000 from the bank of Mum and Dad and dedicated “22 hours a day” to make sure his new start-up could get its foot in the door of an incredibly competitive market.

Handmade in the UK, his brand Duke & Dexter produces a range of slip-on loafers in leather, motif, tweed and pyramid. The designs are original and materials are sourced from over 25 countries.

Since launch in 2014, Duke & Dexter has opened its first physical store in Covent Garden and counts Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Fenwick as stockists.

With 50,000 clients worldwide, you can also see Duke & Dexter shoes on famous feet including Ryan Reynolds, Jonah Hill and Justin Timberlake.

Actor Eddie Redmayne even wore a pair of the shoes when collecting his Oscar at the 2015 Academy Awards; showcasing the brand to millions worldwide.

Now shipping to 100 countries worldwide, with projected turnover of over £3m for 2017, Hewlett has his sights set on opening a store in New York in the coming months. Start-ups should look to follow in Duke & Dexter’s footsteps!

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