News & Events

Going from strength to strength

Monday 12th February 2018

As he was approaching early retirement from local government Chris Cooper thought it was an ideal time to realise his dream of starting his own business.

Feeling completely unequipped for the task he enrolled on the ‘Business start-up’ seminars run by Colin Jones from South Durham Enterprise Agency and now a year later his sports photography and clothing brand Fatboy Strong® is well and truly up and running.

The business is firmly established as a leading strength event photographer and Chris is working with Sunderland clothing company Cento Clothing Ltd to develop specialist gym clothing and further develop his brand.

Chris who has himself lifted internationally as a powerlifter said, “I can honestly say that without Colin and the help from the SDEA I would not have had the courage or skills to pursue my ambitions.”

“The structured approach to setting up a business outlined by the SDEA seminars is essential for developing a sound business model.”

Interestingly sports photography was not part of the original vision for the Fatboy Strong brand. However, after attendance at a photography course with local photographer Simon Green, Chris realised that he could exploit a gap in the market for event photography building on his contacts already gained in the sport of powerlifting.

“At my first event I was apprehensive about whether competitors would like and purchase my photos but to my relief orders came flooding in to my self-created website. Now I am well established as a photographer on the North East and Yorkshire and powerlifting event calendar.”

Chris is expanding his photography services into other strength sports and is booked to attend events such as strongman, tug of war and grip strength competitions over the next few months.


A photo taken by Chris at a recent powerlifting event (© Fatboy Strong Photography)

Chris developed his brand with the help of Lemon Top Creative in Darlington and feels this has given him a strong identity to help launch his business.  He has already registered the name and logo as trademarks.

“The great thing about developing a strong brand from the outset is that it allows you to explore other areas of business whilst the bread and butter income is provided by the established part of your business.”

“Anyone who is thinking of starting their own business or just exploring the viability of their business ideas should definitely seek the help of the SDEA as a first step. It certainly focused my mind and helped me avoid the many pitfalls as a newcomer to the business world.”

Chris summed up by saying “I spent a year gathering the skills and expertise needed to start up my business and this has really paid off. More importantly I want to stress that you should never turn down an opportunity to develop your ideas and network with established businesses and industry experts. You never know what little gem of advice is going to propel your business from a pipedream to a full-on business success.”

Colin Jones from SDEA says “Chris attended our comprehensive business planning and marketing workshops to enable him to get the best start possible for his new business. These workshops are free to attend being part funded through the European Regional Development Fund and theEnterprise Support in the Northeast project.

It is great to see a client who comes along with an initial business idea, and with the right support and guidance, go on to develop a successful start up enterprise.

South Durham Enterprise Agency have a wide range of fully funded support available to help you start your own enterprise including workshops and one to one support.”      Facebook page: Fatboystrongphotos

Contact email:   Mobile: 07715289128