We Met at King’s

Alice Holden & Fluerette Mulcahy: Attollo

A King’s entrepreneurial success story, luxury lingerie business Attollo was founded by Alice Holden ( Geography, 2014) and Fleurette Mulcahy (Geography, 2014) while they were still studying. We spoke to them about how their student friendship has developed into a successful business relationship the day after they secured investment from two new investors – one of whom is also a King’s alumna.

Alice: We first met each other on Facebook. I can’t remember who sent the first message, but we were both part of a ‘Going to King’s’ Facebook group. When we arrived at our first lecture, we recognised each other.

Fleurette: We took part in a Geography treasure hunt, which actually turned out to be a five hour trek around central London…

Alice: We were the only ones who took it seriously – we wanted to win!

Fleurette: That’s true, I think we’re both of the mind-set that if you’re going to do something, do it properly.

Alice: So we bonded over our competitive spirit and determination.

Fleurette: But we also bonded over bras! Within the first few weeks of meeting, we were having a coffee, discussing what we love to wear and what we get frustrated about when we’re shopping.

Alice: We realised we had the shared experience of how difficult it can be finding comfortable, attractive underwear to fit more obscure sizes.

Fleurette: Our lightbulb moment – when we realised we wanted to turn our passion into a business – came at the end of our second year. We had just handed in an essay and were sitting in the Waterfront Bar. We looked at each other and just said: ‘let’s do something about this.’

Alice: The summer between our second and third years was spent planning. I was at home in Sussex and Fleurette was in London, but we were both researching and sharing ideas. Attollo means ‘I lift up, I raise, I excite’ and that’s the philosophy behind everything we do.

Fleurette: Going into business together felt very natural because we’ve always had a great working relationship. Our friendship was built on our shared academic and business ambitions rather than King’s nights out.

Alice: For me, working on Attollo with Fleurette has helped me find my place in London.

Fleurette: In the past, whenever something has gone well we’ve tended to say “great, now what?” and just move on to the next piece of work. So we’re making sure we take more time to celebrate, to reflect and enjoy these moments together.

King’s Nurturing Talent

Alice: We’ve also had so many great experiences from our relationship with King’s: winning the best pitch in King’ Lion’s Den Challenge, meeting inspirational figures at King’s Enterprise Connect, and being invited to host the September 2015 event. Also, if we hadn’t taken part in King’s Enterprise Business Accelerator weekend, we never would have secured our first investment.

Fleurette: We’ve had great support from within King’s; we call Director of Partnerships and Consultancy Michael Hill-King our ‘business dad’ and Professor David Green, from King’s Geography department has been so supportive. After the Santander Universities National Entrepreneurship Awards he took us out for a celebratory lunch.

Alice: King’s Enterprise gives a safety and security, a platform and network from which to ask for support and to test ideas. King’s encouraged our drive and our desire to succeed. It’s a university with a strong sense of tradition but also a go-getting, can-do attitude.

Fleurette: If it wasn’t for King’s, Attollo wouldn’t exist today.