Age(s): Both 33.
Countries of Origin: Ghana (Sena), and Nigeria (Joshua)
Current Location (City & Country): London, United Kingdom
Who are Joshua Ntiedo Umoren and Sena Dale Mortoo?
The two founding members of lifestyle brand Morts & More. Opening the doors of once old and exclusive circles, to a new generation.
You come across as a couple of friends who have known each other a long while, is that true? How did you both meet?
It is true. We’ve known each other since sixth-form college and attended the same Uni. Been friends since.
With the two of you working together in partnership, how do you both manage leadership?
It’s something we’ve never really thought about. Since day one, we’ve both been working together towards a common goal. We’ve led in different areas of the business. Sena in Operations, and Josh in Business Development/Marketing.
What, in your opinion, are the advantages and disadvantages of co-founding a company?
The advantages of being a Founder are autonomous control over the direction and objectives for the company. Being a Co-founder means you have someone (who has a vested interest) to bounce ideas off, as well as having someone who helps to motivate you.
The disadvantages are that there aren’t enough hours in the day and you’re pretty much always working.
You both held a number of positions before establishing Morts & More, which position has most equipped you with the skills needed for running your own business.
Josh: Most of my positions were pretty similar. I worked in pharmaceutical and medical sales roles (as a graduate). All of them helped me greatly as they were somewhat ‘mini business manager’ roles. I was in charge of my diary, location, sales approach, and ultimately business growth. Selling, people skills and business analysis are key skills and I received major development in all.
Sena: I’ve definitely taken something from all of the roles that I previously had. Similar to Josh, things like time management, being able to talk comfortably with people of all levels and of course consultative selling skills. I’d say my last role for an IT company really helped me in my move to full time on the business though as I learnt a lot about customer service and making sure things like enquiries were always of the utmost importance and getting back to them ASAP.
What was the biggest challenge in starting the company?
The biggest challenge for us was getting the product and process right. We’ve learnt so much in the journey to perfection (which we haven’t yet reached and most likely never will) but having an offering which brought value to the marketplace took a lot of time and effort.
Starting or maintaining a business, which is more difficult?
Maintaining. Even the stats show a large percentage of businesses shut down within 3 years, but even from a personal perspective the energy required in maintaining definitely feels greater than starting. With so many new offerings coming to market at a rapid pace, it takes work to keep your business fresh and in-demand.
What would you say makes Morts & More so unique?
We’d like to think we’ve removed the stuffiness from tailoring. What was once thought of as an old boys club, reserved for the select few is now more accessible to those without the deepest pockets who also take a keen interesting in fashion and like to have fun with it too.
Morts & More also has a personality. With so much of the brand owners being seen via social media, it gives the ‘Morts & More Man’ an identity. Many other brands are simply product or service.
Who are your competitors and how do you stay competitive?
Our competitors are any companies who provide a made to measure or bespoke service.
As the brand identity centres a lot around us, it makes it hard for anyone else to compete with. Nobody can be us, better than us lol.
What are the main challenges the business faces if any?
Brand awareness. Getting in front of our target audience and staying at the forefront of their minds (when it comes to menswear) is the primary concern for us. It’s all good having a good service/product but if the people that would buy it don’t know about it, then it’s as useful as a chocolate kettle.
Where did the concept of starting a men’s tailoring business come from?
We were both wearing suits to work (post graduate) and we’d often compete (amongst other friends too) to see who had the best suits. After a while we realised the suits weren’t good enough, yet we couldn’t afford the likes of Savile Row. A friend of ours saw a travelling tailor come to his office and came to us with the idea of improving his system and so we did.
What has been your main inspiration on your journey?
The main inspiration has come from seeing other businessmen and women who look like us and come from similar backgrounds achieving great things and completing their goals.
What does your average day at work consist of?
For Sena it’ll consist of:
- consulting with clients on their bespoke pieces and chasing up our cutting team to make sure all is in order.
- making sure the journey of every bespoke piece is smooth from start to finish, including fittings and adjustments if needed
- social media marketing.
For Josh it’ll consist of:
- working on the latest project (new accessory line, sales models, packaging)
- maintenance of the website and writing blog pieces
- Youtube and other social media marketing and content creation
- occasional client consultations.
Do you have any role models within your field that you seek to emulate?
Tom Ford has done extremely well. We admire what he’s done but we wouldn’t say we’d want to emulate his brand, we’re looking to create our own lane.
10 years ago what were your life goals and have any of them been achieved, or have they changed over time?
Josh: That’s a tough question. In 2006 I was in my last year of university. My goal was to work as a medical rep for two years then create businesses (didn’t know what in yet) that brought value. My ultimate goal is to make a major contribution to the world (whether that’s inspiring a generation or creating social or technological change). I achieved one and I am still working on the rest.
Sena: Same as Josh really. 2006 I had just started my first job after uni, I went into the sales field as I wanted to make enough money to start my own business. I didn’t know what that business would be in but I knew that at some point I’d be my own boss. My goals are always evolving and they definitely have grown to be bigger than owning and running one company.
What does the future look like for Morts & More?
The future consists of more product lines that add to the lifestyle of men and women. With the main emphasis being put on mens goods (shoes, bags, watches etc).
Give three key tips for someone wanting to start their own business?
- Just start. Don’t wait for perfect conditions, as they may never come.
- Know your why. Why do you want to do this business? It has to be strong and meaningful enough to keep you going when the going gets tough.
- Ask for help. There’s so many people and resources around you that are more than willing to give advice/help for free. All you have to do is ask.