How Hertfordshire sisters Samantha and Stephanie Frost turned £3,000 into a multi-million-pound fashion empire

Fashion trailblazers, Stephanie and Samantha Frost, first began their fashion brand Pretty Lavish, working together out of their living room. It was always their vision to create a label that celebrated the female figure in all its beautiful forms.

'We’re a family-run fashion brand, born in Britain, but that’s been inspired by and makes affordable luxury clothes for women of all backgrounds,' shares co-founder Stephanie.

Back then, they didn’t know where their journey would take them. 'We never imagined Pretty Lavish would take off as well as it has, but since launching we are more passionate than ever to create a brand with quality and sustainability at the forefront of everything that we do. We hope our products are loved and worn for years to come,' Samantha reveals.

Great British Life: It was always the sisters' vision to create a label that celebrated the female figure in all its beautiful forms. Credit: Pretty Lavish It was always the sisters' vision to create a label that celebrated the female figure in all its beautiful forms. Credit: Pretty Lavish

The award-winning UK womenswear brand is best known for its sophisticated occasion wear, luxury knitwear, curve range, and sleek, stylish bridal collection.

'It was always our aim to design high-quality, timeless pieces that reflected a woman’s individuality and natural beauty but didn’t compromise on style and comfort to do it,' Stephanie comments.

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, the sisters always hoped to one day have a business of their own, and finally, in 2013, that dream became a reality.

'Stephanie was an accountant at the time, and I was working in fashion buying, so our combined skill sets were well suited to starting a fashion business,' Samantha shares. 'To some, the idea of working with family may seem daunting, but for us, it made perfect sense. We’ve been best friends for as long as we can remember and are very aligned with how we think. Though we each have our own roles in the company, we’re both heavily involved in all aspects of the business.

'Running a fashion brand can be incredibly testing, and we’ve always said we couldn’t do it alone, so we’re grateful to have each other to rely on for support. Family is the most important thing in the world to us, and we’d never put business before that.'

At the time of starting the company, Samantha and Stephanie put all their savings into the setup and used their mum’s loft to launch their first collection.

'We had a lot of fun and were excited about the business’ potential, but it was difficult in those early days to gain momentum and it required a lot of resilience and persistence to not give up,' Stephanie says. 'We did everything we could to keep growing sales and we’re indebted to our mum for her help [and house space] as she was heavily involved with the business in the beginning.'

After the success of their first launch, the sisters left their full-time jobs to devote everything to the fashion brand. Though nerve-racking at first, neither can bring themselves to regret their company’s humble beginnings, learning several valuable lessons in that time that have stayed with them ever since.

'I can’t say it enough – it pays off to know your numbers. Amid keeping up with orders, being incredibly busy and adapting to the world of self-employment, it can be tricky to keep track of everything, but it’s absolutely vital,' Samantha reveals. 'Thankfully, this was where Stephanie’s financial background came in handy – I honestly don’t know where we would be today if we hadn’t been so focused on this.'

Great British Life: Sisters Stephanie and Samantha Frost are co-founders of the award-winning fashion brand Pretty Lavish. Credit: Pretty LavishSisters Stephanie and Samantha Frost are co-founders of the award-winning fashion brand Pretty Lavish. Credit: Pretty Lavish

Their hard work paid off a few years later when, in 2017, they opened the first Pretty Lavish store and office space. Yet despite their growth, the sisters never lost sight of what they set out to achieve – to help inspire and empower women with their designs.

'We want to celebrate female beauty in all its forms. We know how hard it can be for women to feel confident these days. Clothes play an important role in helping us to look and feel our very best, and it’s something that every woman, regardless of age, size, or background, deserves,' Stephanie says. 'From the start, we aimed to create designs that would achieve this and could be worn by anybody. There’s nothing more rewarding than when we read a review from a customer saying how special they felt when they put on one of our pieces.'

It’s a message that’s been hugely popular with retailers, celebrities and influencers, many of whom are big supporters of Stephanie’s and Samantha’s clothes.

Today, the sisters continue their work to bridge the gap between high street and designer brands, releasing six new collections each year. Their designs are now stocked by some of the biggest retailers in the UK, such as ASOS, Frasers, and Selfridges.

'Both Stephanie and I used to work at Selfridges when we were younger, so it’s still hard to believe they now stock Pretty Lavish,' Samantha reveals. “We feel extremely lucky to have such amazing wholesale partners behind us.'

'It’s always a pinch-me moment when we learn of a new brand picking up our designs and see celebrities wearing our clothes,' Stephanie adds. 'There are a lot of amazing fashion brands out there, so it always feels extra special when a famous face chooses to wear Pretty Lavish for a TV appearance, but we also still grow just as excited when we see a stranger in the street wearing one of our designs.'

Their celebrity fanbase includes the likes of Rochelle Humes, Amanda Holden, Frankie Bridge, Samantha Faiers and Emily Atack.

'We’ve also had a lot of amazing opportunities to collaborate with some wonderful influencers, including Chloe Lloyd, Lydia Jane Tomlinson and Noorie Ana on their own edits. Each one has been a firm advocate of the brand, so it always feels genuine and authentic when we launch a collection together.

'We often have to remind ourselves of how far the brand has come – as it can still feel quite surreal. We never dreamed Pretty Lavish would grow to the size it is. We started the brand with just £3,000 behind us, working out of our family home, but with a lot of determination and durability, we’ve made it a tremendous success.”

Since moving to their new offices in Hertfordshire in 2020, the Pretty Lavish team has nearly quadrupled in size, now employing 35 talented and dedicated women.

'It’s been a rollercoaster few years,' Stephanie admits. 'I think anytime a company experiences the level of growth we have, it’s going to come with its challenges. However, we’re incredibly blessed to have such an amazing team behind us, that are just as passionate as we are about where we can take the brand. We consider them very much as members of the family.'

Recently, Stephanie and Samantha have been working hard to make their designs more sustainable and have introduced recycled and organic fabrications to their collections. They also recently launched their first-ever menswear line, NOBL. The collection features a contemporary twist of simple, minimal and yet versatile pieces that are affordably priced.

'We were nervous about breaking into men’s fashion, but the response we’ve had so far has been amazing and we’re excited about the doors this could open for us,' Samantha shares.

Great British Life: The sisters transformed their £3000 fashion brand into a multi-million pound fashion empire. Credit: Pretty LavishThe sisters transformed their £3000 fashion brand into a multi-million pound fashion empire. Credit: Pretty Lavish

When revealing what’s next in store for them, the sisters spoke about their plans for international expansion, focusing on the US and Ireland, which are their next biggest markets after the UK.

'We’re feeling confident and positive about the future – there’s so much more we want to achieve and plenty on the calendar for 2023,' Stephanie enthuses. 'It’s been a remarkable journey so far, and we cannot wait to see what the next 12 months bring. We wouldn’t have made it here without the love and support of our family, our fantastic team, and without one another.'

'I honestly believe anyone can achieve their goals if they have the right mindset. For anyone considering starting a business – I say go for it. You never know what you can achieve until you try. If you work hard, set and review your goals regularly, have a good support system and make sure to enjoy the journey – you could be surprised by where you end up,' Samantha says. 'And most importantly, no matter where you’re at in life, remember to take a step back every once in a while, to appreciate just how far you’ve come and everything you’ve achieved.'