Friday, September 17, 2021

5 Minutes With Akin Onal, Founder & CEO, Mori

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Mori

I am really passionate about start-ups, technology and travelling. I have travelled to all the seven continents including Antarctica. I climbed glaciers in Alaska, woke up next to elephant seals in Antarctica and faced many white-out snow storms in remote locations. I try to do some volunteer work as well. After my trip to the Darfur region of Sudan in 2008, I raised funds to build the first public library in the town. 

Before Mori, I was a technology, media and telecommunications investment banker at JP Morgan. I also worked as a management consultant for five years across Europe, Middle East and Africa. I have a MBA degree from Wharton Business School and an engineering degree with honors from Koc University, Turkey.

What got you into the retail sector in the first place?

Much of my career prior to Mori was focused on advisory roles. Having grown up in a textile heavy region of Turkey, I came to love making products and tangible businesses, and this was clearly missing in my life. Therefore, creating a cool and practical consumer brand with products that I was proud of was only a natural progression in my career.

At Mori, we are changing the norms, innovating fabrics, speaking to our customers and creating beautiful products that they customers love. 

The joy of this entire process is not comparable to anything I have done before.

Describe your responsibilities as Mori‘s founder and chief executive

My job is to create an organisation with empowered team members. That said, I am very hands-on with many of the functions in the company. 

You can easily catch me finishing a call with a potential investor in Silicon Valley and then responding to customer queries. I am still very involved with the product development and sourcing, as well.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Having worked together with the top management of so many different types of companies it allowed me to understand the common traits of successful teams. 

Also, I can easily say that I wouldn‘t have had the guts to quit my investment banking career if it wasn‘t for the two years I spent during my MBA degree and the inspiring people I met while there. There are many successful entrepreneurs within my Wharton network that I often speak with and take inspiration from.

How is Mori different to other retailers especially maternity retailers?

It‘s hard to compare us to any other babywear retailer out there. At Mori, the main thing that sets us apart is our product and ethos. 

When Cam and I first started it, we wanted to give parents clothing essentials that they trusted were the softest and safest for their baby — bearing in mind that babies spend the majority of their time in these basics. 

Baby‘s health is still our number one priority — as well as the wider family — and that‘s why everything is crafted from natural, sustainable and environmentally-conscious fabrics to ensure the baby is always comfortable whilst also doing our part to protect the world they will grow up in.

I was lucky to grow up in a textile-heavy region of Turkey, and so my close family and friends are among our trusted manufacturers. With these relationships and the visibility we have of our supply chain, we can truly produce the highest quality products and ensure nothing harmful comes near anything we create.

Aside from that, we are proud of being customer-obsessed. We constantly learn from our customers and involve them in our product development. We also recognise customers are time-poor and we are always doing everything we can to create an experience which is seamless, omnichannel and transparent.


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