One year ago my best mate Jason and I decided to create FRAHM. It’s very strange saying that. So much has happened. ONE YEAR!
I was feeling recovered from my nervous breakdown. My previous venture Vulpine was high stakes, high investment, ultra high stress. It was a rocket ship that exploded and the wreckage was thrown far and wide.
I never wanted to go through that again. I’d learnt so much. I couldn’t bear wasting that knowledge. I love jackets more than anything. So jackets it was.
I’ve known Jase since we were kids in Nottinghamshire. We’ve always wanted to work together. So similar, so different. Both massive jacket obsessives. So we did. With rules:
- Only jackets.
- Jackets that are as technical and tough as stylish. They have to keep their promise. No cornerscut.
- In other words. we make what we want to wear and don’t feel we can get.
- Only in limited numbers, and we pre-sell them.
- If they run out, that’s it.
- Thus, no discounting.
- No investment. Just us creating a small business to support ourselves.
- Only online.
- Work with a mental health charity.
- Be a kinder, more honestly marketed men’s brand. Life is great, but often it’s not.
This image of Willem Defoe by Johan Bergmark was the first visual inspiration for FRAHM.
The first three jackets are designed. Fabrics are chosen. Test jackets are being attacked with chainsaws and rain storms. I’m learning how to build websites. Head down, lots to do. Enjoying the process of building.
More building. Setbacks. Successes. Blah blah.
At the end of the month I launch a website to a small audience. The site is meant to show what’s to come. I thought I might as well build blogs and an idea of what to expect, while we waited for jackets to arrive.
To my amazement words gets around fast, and we immediately start pre-selling Utility Field Jackets, or “Jacket 1” is it was know. No information, no name, no photos. I am shocked.
I admit to having a bit of a man cry. All these pre-orders of an unknown, unseen jacket worth £395, off the back of my work on Vulpine. My morale and confidence had been so low, and it suddenly changed. I felt recovered. This was what I needed. Wow. Thank you for your faith - ultra early adopters!
We are now officially “In Aid Of” Mind the UK’s leading mental health charity. We give £10 from every jacket sold too them, and promote more honest men’s lifestyles.
As a consequence, and since, I often find myself having chats via Twitter direct message or on the phone with men I’ve never met, who are relieved to talk to another man who’s had anything really crap happen to them. I find it shocking that there aren’t more outlets for men, but I’m REALLY glad to help and to talk.
Always good to help a fellow human being. It’s not all glamorous photoshoots…
We shoot photos of my friend Chris in (shhh) 28c heat, for a cool weather jacket. Sorry to break the facade.
Chris is a hardy fella. He doesn’t mind. He can also jump really high without any effort. I’m still in the gym trying to replicate this… Springy calves?
Our first podcast goes out there. Brutally honest about my journey through and out of Vulpine. My mental health collapse and then recovery. Raw, but hopefully still interesting and not tooo serious, it set the tone for FRAHM. No BS. It’s all there for you to see and hear. Real people (not always men) with real, imperfect, sometimes painful, sometimes inspirational stories. Like all of us. Right?
Another building month, head down in the office, with Matt Stephen’s podcast a highlight. Listens are now in the tens of thousands. Funny, touching, shocking and anarchic. Do listen again.
The Harrington Racer Jacket pre-orders launch and, especially as I was best know for Harringtons (bit of an obsession!), they build quickly.
To my eternal embarrassment, I have to step in and model the only sample, as a friend can’t make it. I hate being in front of the camera. Eventually my shoulders drop enough to get some decent photos and I can run back into the shadows.
On the same shoot in my bit of Somerset, Chris again manages to grow a full beard on 36 hours notice. Honestly, that’s his super power (apart from the jumping thing).
Jackets arrive!! Finally. The Utility Field Jackets go out and I ferry parcels to and from home to the post office all day in my mum in law’s tiny Vauxhall.
It may look glamour. But it’s mostly slog. Fun slog, because then…
The customer reviews come in! 5/5 over and over again! Rave reviews from the likes of proper explorer hero Benedict Allen. This makes it all worth it.
Still, we average 5 stars from verified customer reviews. No deletions or edits. Amazing. But we worked damned hard for them.
After 7 weeks of live stock the Utility Field jacket is sold out. Pre-orders re-open for September this year, and they start coming in immediately.
Meanwhile, Jason is trudging through admin after the rush (soz mate) and I’m polishing off designs and production for 2019… New jackets, more colours.
And we launch ‘Long’ sizes for very tall men. This came about from feedback. We were being told we needed to make longer jackets for a group of men who felt excluded, or unable to buy something they really wanted. So, with an amazing relationship with an incredible factory, we just did it.
Launch of jacket 3, the Waterproof City Coat. Waterproofs take a lot of R&D to get right. So many waterproofs just aren’t desirable. They’re noisy and nasty. Not this. What a beautiful thing, yet, as always tough. Unusual, unique, we’d say.
Most of the Harringtons arrive and head out to their pre-paid owners. Again, we kick off with a 5/5 review. Early days, but it’s beautiful thing.
We’ve just instigated Live Chat on the site during most of my waking hours. Seriously, if you message me at 07:15 because you have a question about sizing or the button circumference, I’ll reply in person.
Podcasts have been on a bit of a hiatus, as we’re so busy, but returning soon, and lots more interesting, creative, curious stuff.
Phew. Three jackets in so far. 5/5 reviews. A lot of late nights. It’s happening! Happening faster than we’d planned. But we’re keeping it small. Them’s the rules.
Talk about the bad stuff too.
Don’t be too ‘strong’.
Thank you. We’re glad to have you along for the journey.
Cheers, Nick(and Jason, who bloody writes anything at 9pm on a Sunday night - but he does do the accounts, so heh).