Former ‘King of Rock’ and Roll tribute act David Bell has overcome both long-term unemployment and disability to start his own online business selling Elvis costumes to a worldwide market.
The 52-year old from Washington was unemployed for 18 months before launching his online business www.houseofelvis.co.uk 12 weeks ago and the site is already receiving 300 unique hits a day.
A heart attack, type-two diabetes and more recently osteoarthritis of his lower back meant David was referred by Jobcentre Plus to qualify for support at Remploy, Britain’s leading provider of Employment services to people with disabilities.
Staff at the Sunderland branch on John Street spent time with David, listened when he spoke of his vision to start a business making and selling Elvis costumes, encouraged him to pursue his dream and put together a business plan which he promptly followed.
He carefully saved up money to buy his first £70 sewing machine and with further encouragement and funding guidance from staff at the branch, set up his own business.
He now has three sewing machines and together with his wife, Trisha, the couple is making and selling tailored jumpsuits for up to £1,200, capes and themed shirts from a workshop close to their family home.
They have had enquiries from all over the world and the business has taken off, selling more to America and Europe than in the UK.
David, who formerly made a living as an Elvis tribute act in Alicante and has been a fan since hearing Return to Sender at the age of 15, said:
“Remploy chivvied me up and made me start doing things. I had been self employed in some capacity all my life but I had just come to a standstill.
“When I worked in Alicante I noticed it was always difficult to try to find somebody to make jumpsuits and the only place could get them was America, so it had been on my mind to make my own for all these years...Remploy made me believe that it could actually happen!
“As The King himself would say, ‘It ain’t no big thing but its growing’ and really I suppose ‘it’s a matter of time.’”
Remploy branch manager David Potts said: “The team here is delighted with David’s progress and success so far with the business.
“It is important to note that here at Remploy we do not just support people in to work but into work that is specifically suitable for them in terms of fulfilling their potential along their desired career path.”
David plans to expand his business in the New Year and even take on staff of his own.