Success of Scarborough school friends who set up global firm

From left, Scarborough fashion entrepreneurs Barry Gill, Sam Kay and David Thompson. Picture Neil Silk 144503A
From left, Scarborough fashion entrepreneurs Barry Gill, Sam Kay and David Thompson. Picture Neil Silk 144503A

Three best friends from Scarborough have gone from hanging out in the playground to being big players in the business world after setting up a global fashion firm.

Former Graham School pupils Barry Gill, 34, David Thompson, 30, and Sam Kay, 31, created Sik Silk after spotting a gap in the market for American apparel.

They started by designing and selling a selection of caps as a hobby two years ago.

Now their clothes, which include baseball shirts, T-shirts and vests, adorn celebrities and fashionistas across the world.

Barry said: “We found out you couldn’t get American apparel in England. We realised it was about to become really popular and managed to start doing it a year before it really took off.

“We released a baseball jersey and sold them to start with. The big moment came when we got our first store interest.”

In June 2013 a shop called Project 722, owned by Gaz Beadle from MTV’s Jersey Shore, got the ball rolling, with the reality star helping out with marketing by wearing the brand.

Barry said: “It started to snowball. We were approached by a number of agencies and got a presence in showrooms. We signed an agent in London to manage the south for us.”

Foot Asylum was the next to sign up and it became one of the fastest selling brands that year. Thanks to the trio’s savvy social media management, it wasn’t long before word spread and they began to receive celebrity endorsements.

Up until this stage, the boys had been selling the clothing from their own homes – with stock piled up in their spare rooms – so they rented their own small warehouse in Eastfield. It wasn’t long before they outgrew the premises and just three months later they moved to a bigger site in Scarborough Business Park, where they currently employ 13 staff.

Due to the company’s rapid success, they decided to take their brand stateside and following a trip to Las Vegas they sealed a deal with sports giant Footlocker. They received further recognition in the US when singer Tre Songz wore a Sik Silk jersey to RnB star Usher’s party.

The trio are continuing to expand the brand in America, as well as Australia and Europe, and are about to sign another lease for a main studio in Plaxton Park.

After maxing out their credit cards to fund the business and deciding to quit their day jobs as a design engineer, plumber and accountant, the boys have never looked back.

“None of us have business experience and to be honest it’s still a shock. It was definitely a risk that paid off,” said Barry.