Comeback kid puts his shirt on success

Three years ago, keen skier Tim Leach broke his neck and back in an horrific off-piste accident. A two-year recovery process prompted the law graduate to review his career plans and, as SARAH CHAMBERS reports, he is now in business online, selling his own unique design of multi-purpose shirts

A SKIER who broke his neck and back in an horrific off-piste accident has set up his own internet clothing business.

Tim Leach, of Hacheston, near Framlingham, has spent the last two years recovering from his ordeal in 2007. He fell at high speed at the resort of Meribel in France, and suffered brain injuries as well as broken bones after hitting his head against a rock.

The 30-year-old law graduate was planning a career in the profession, but following the accident reassessed his life and instead decided to set up a business selling his own individual style of shirts over the internet.

He spent several weeks in an induced coma in France before he was airlifted to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge where he continued his recovery and began planning Tier One Clothing.

“My accident and the time spent in hospital has given me a new perspective and has encouraged me to follow my life-long dream of setting up my own business,” he said.

Former Framlingham College pupil Mr Leach focused on creating a multi-purpose shirt which was dressy enough for the office, but casual enough to be worn at home or out and about.

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After two years recuperating, he was fully discharged from hospital, but meanwhile was planning his new career.

“You get thinking when you are lying in bed for a long time,” he explained.

“I’m still making a recovery, but I really feel that when I was in hospital I didn’t get any more inspiration from law. I didn’t like the idea of it at all. I had been to India the summer before and I had had lots of shirts made for me and potentially I thought it would be a good thing to do.

“Tier One Clothing was born from research into what my friends and those around me want from a shirt – the answer was unanimous: a multipurpose design that can be worn in a variety of situations.”

The shirts, which are made in India to his specifications, come in a male and a female cut in a range of materials and patterns and each come with contrast collar and matching cuffs, which are a signature of the design.

Although he is starting with shirts, Mr Leach says he hopes to branch out into other clothing as the business grows.

“First and foremost, I wanted to create quality shirts with a fashionable edge. The shirts are about comfort and style and are aimed at individuals who want to stand out from the crowd,” he said.

“Basically, I put a lot of research into it and, yes, predominantly what I wear and what the majority of my friends wear.”

Mr Leach, who operates the business from his home in Hacheston, uses the local post office at Wickham Market, which he said had been “brilliant”, to send off his shirts.

“I like establishing the whole Suffolk thing here,” he said. “I think Suffolk is offering so much more now.”

Mr Leach, travelled the world before studying for four years at Bristol University. He had gained a law degree and was skiing in France when the accident happened.

The target market for his shirts is young professionals, but he admits building a business from scratch is tough.

“Starting a business is very, very slow,” he said. “The fact is I have a passion for what I’m doing.”

Mr Leach was helped by Stowmarket brain injury clinic Icanho in his recovery and once the business is more established he says he would like to donate some of the proceeds from one of his ranges to it.

Although he has made a remarkable recovery, there are some things he will never be able to do. Before the accident he was a keen runner, but his ankle was shattered and he is now unable to run.

“I think one of the main things that’s helped me is setting up this business,” he said. “You have got to keep yourself busy to get yourself back on the straight and narrow.”