He left school due to dyslexia with no qualifications and spent three years working as a carpenter.
But reality TV star Tommy Mallet from The Only Way Is Essex has now made it onto a Forbes list of influential entrepreneurs after making millions of pounds through his successful footwear company, Mallet London.
The 28-year-old fashion mogul’s brand, which is now thought to be worth £2.5million, has earned him a place on the business magazine’s annual ’30 Under 30′ list for Europe in the retail and ecommerce category.
Mr Mallet launched the company just six years ago and it has already made £11.8million in sales as of 2020, with celebrity fans across the world including Drake, Olly Murs, Will.i.am, Craig David and Eve.
The huge success of the brand makes Mr Mallet one of the ITV reality programme’s wealthiest exports, with Mallet London shoes and clothing now stocked in more than 150 stores around the world.
Mr Mallet joined the programme in 2014 when he was unemployed following a chance meeting with a casting director and soon became a household name with his fiancée Georgia Kousoulou, who is now pregnant.
Mr Mallet’s shoes are on sale at Level Shoes in the Dubai Mall, which is known as the world’s largest luxury shoe store, as well as Harrods and Selfridges in London.
His trainers are known for their signature metallic heel clips and he initially sold a mens’ range, but has since branched out into women’s shoes, clothes and even a children’s range. His trainers sell for about £175, while the children’s shoes cost around £135.
He hopes to take the brand to the US this year and aims to launch them exclusively with Saks Fifth Avenue.
Forbes said in the biography of Mr Mallet on its website: ‘Tommy Mallet left school due to dyslexia with no qualifications and he worked as a carpenter before becoming a reality TV star.
‘The sneakerhead channelled his passion into his own footwear line in 2015, and the business clocked £11.8million in sales in 2020 with its shoes and apparel stocked in over 150 stores around the world.’
Celebrating the achievement on social media, Mr Mallet shared a screenshot from Forbes website and wrote: ‘Honoured to be chosen for the Forbes 30 under 30 list!! FORBES LIST YOU KNOW Thank you, Forbes.’
Miss Kousoulou also congratulated her partner on his success, saying on his Instagram post: ‘How lucky is our baby, he has you teaching him and showing him the world.’
Maniere De Voir creator Reece Wabara, 29, also made it onto the list in addition to Lounge Underwear founders Daniel, 29, and Melanie Marsden, 28, whose clothing are worn by celebrities including Love Island’s Molly Smith.
Mr Mallet was inspired to create own brand after being teased over his cheap trainers as a teenager. Speaking to Femail in 2018, he said: ‘I’m not going to lie, it didn’t make me feel good at all.
‘But at the end of the day everyone goes through hard times. Not being able to afford them made me want to push forward and prove to not only them, but also to myself, that I could get to where I wanted to be, and be even more than that.
‘I feel like at one point in my life I definitely could have had the potential to go down the wrong path but ultimately, I knew that I wanted to do things the right way and to succeed. So staying on the right track was important to me.’
Mr Mallet, who did not attend university, said he also turned his lack of qualifications into a positive because he knew he would have to work hard if he wanted to be more than a carpenter – a job he did for three years.
He said: ‘In the back of my head I’ve always known that I didn’t have anything like GCSEs and I knew that I needed to push myself harder because of this, but I wouldn’t say it got me down. It actually motivated me to become more successful.’
He decided to put pen to paper and design his own footwear in 2015 because he wanted to create an ‘evening’ trainer using high quality materials at an affordable price.
Mr Mallet added: ‘When I was younger I never had enough money to buy a pair of trainers that I genuinely liked because they were all so expensive, so I put pen to paper and decided to design something similar.
‘At the time, I had a friend who was working in the industry and he agreed to make me the pair from my initial design. They actually came out great and it was from there that we decided to partner up and to make Mallet London.’