Curse of Towie stars' business empires – from £450k diamond scam to Gemma Collins' shock ban and doomed lingerie shop | The SunApril 10, 2023
APPEARING on reality TV can open a lot of doors, with stars able to enjoy influencer lifestyles, cash in with advertising or even establish their own business empires.
But for the cast of The Only Way is Essex, making a foray into the world of entrepreneurship has not always been easy.
This week, it was revealed that Jake Hall, who appeared on Towie between 2015 and 2016, has been forced to shut down his clothing brand Prevu.
The line was popular with A-listers such as Matthew McConaughey, the Beckham boys, and his former castmate James Argent, but it has now gone into liquidation.
Jake's net worth was once tipped to be £5million thanks to the brand, but it emerged in 2020 that the 29-year-old owed £1million to creditors.
Prevu now joins a long list of failed enterprises set up by the stars of the show – here, we take a look at how some of them crumbled.
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In February, the show's resident bad boy Pete Wicks closed his business, PW Promotions. just weeks after quitting TOWIE.
After the 35-year-old signed off the paperwork in January, it was revealed that the company was £100,000 in debt – it owed £7,477 in VAT, £66,702 in corporation tax, and £26,500 in monies owed to Lloyds Bank.
Pete set up the business in 2015 to take care of his income on the show and is one of three companies he owns.
The others – Unkempt, set up in 2021, and TCDOR, established in November last year are both dormant.
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He previously owned Hermano Clothing and Pirate Pete’s Tattoo, both of which closed down without undertaking any business at all.
Lucy Mecklenburgh, 31, may be one of the most successful influencers to come out of Towie, but she didn't have much luck with her fashion business.
In 2020, she walked away from Lucy's boutique after it accumulated huge debts of nearly £270,000.
Established in 2012 at the height of her popularity on the show, it failed to make any money in its later years and only had £673 in its account by the time it shut.
At the time, a source close to the star said: "Lucy has decided to sell the business and take a consultancy role as running it alongside her other venture was taking its toll.
"Working 13 hour day while heavily pregnant was just proving too much for her and she wanted to take time to prepare for her new arrival."
Although they added that Lucy's boutique was moving online, records by Company's House show it was dissolved in December last year.
£450k diamond scam
Dan Edgar's business dealings are one of the biggest scandals to come out of the show.
In 2017, it was reported that his secret investment business had scammed customers out of £450,000 by flogging suspicious coloured diamonds that didn't always exist.
Dan was forced to sign a disqualification undertaking which banned him from promoting, managing, or being a director of a limited company until 2031.
Reco Commodities was found to have several made false claims and failed to buy diamonds that its investors had already paid for.
According to documents, the business, for which Dan was a designated member, "inflated the price of the diamonds by hundreds of per cent, meaning that they were not suitable as an investment."
It was also noted that young sales reps used aggressive tactics to force investors to hand over their cash.
The investigation by the Insolvency Service also found that only one customer had actually received the diamonds they had paid for.
Row with traders
In 2013, Joey Essex opened a new boutique in Brentford, Essex, calledFusey to much fanfare.
But when it was announced that the store was closing, he was accused by local traders of distancing himself from the community, who claimed he "didn't want to know" when they tried to involve him.
One said: "Joey just didn't seem to want to be part of the community down here. People like owners who are born and bred in Brentwood seem to get involved with the community and the other shops."
Joey, 32, however, hit back and said he wasn't closing down due to a lack of customers and was only moving his business online.
"I also hope the other traders in Crown Street can continue to be successful when we close as I appreciate a few were unhappy with the thousands of fans that visit my shop stating it affects their business," a statement read.
On Companies House, the business is down as having been dissolved in 2018.
'End of an era'
Even long-serving cast members like Chloe Sims, 41, are not immune to Towie's curse. In 2019, she announced that she was shutting her beauty salon after five years.
Writing on her Instagram stories, she told fans she could no longer give the venture the commitment and energy it needed.
She said: "End of an era! After 5 incredible years….Chloe's Beauty Bar is coming to an end! Our last day of trading will be Saturday, 2 March 2019.
"It has been an incredible journey but with new and exciting opportunities right now we are no longer able to give the business the energy and commitment required.
"We have thoroughly enjoyed the journey and would like to thank all of our wonderful clients, we couldn't have done it without you!"
He may have been one of the most popular stars on Towie – but in 2018, James Lock, 36, experienced the curse when he was forced to shut down his café.
Its demise was reportedly down to plummeting profits.
The eatery was opened in Romford in 2015 and promised to offer a healthy fast food deli in the centre of one of Essex's most popular shopping malls, The Quadrant.
According to public records, the business was dissolved after going into liquidation in 2017 – a handwritten sign at the door read: "Thank you to all our lovely customers. Lockie's is now no longer trading" with a sad face.
The GC banned
In 2020, Gemma Collins, 42, was hit with a three-year ban from owning a company after the Insolvency Service launched an investigation into her business.
The Diva Forever star was found to have paid herself out of Gemma Collins Boutique Limited's funds despite missing VAT deadlines.
According to the query, £280,000 had gone out of the firm's bank account between July 2015 and June 2017 when it was behind on its VAT returns.
The money included £33,298 paid to Gemma, £16,086 to “unknown parties” and £18,539 to connected firms – it had only paid £6,614 in VAT in its entire four years of operation and owed £71,745.
Last year, in scenes that aired on Towie, Chloe Brockett shed tears over the demise of her clothing brand Miss Babe after just one year.
The 22-year-old launched the line inbetween filming for the reality show and Celebs Go Dating.
Talking to pal Courtney Meadows, she tearfully said: "I don't feel the best at the minute, I'm not going to lie.
"Even the other day I was sunbathing with Elma and she's asking me about my business and I don't want to talk about it, because it's not going on any more."
She added: "It's just so rubbish. I put so much into it and I really wanted it to do really well. There's part of me that just feels embarrassed."
After two years, it was announced that Jessica Wright's clothing and lingerie shop was shutting down in 2014.
At the time her reps said the business, With Love, Jessica, was moving online as it was proving more successful that way.
"It is simply that Jess's online business has rocketed and it makes much more sense to progress this further rather than the store," they said.
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But Company House records show that the company was dissolved in 2015.
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