Liz Dolan and Rob Tracey, co-founders of Mortar & More
Liz: I think it was always on the cards, but when we did decide to do it we thought it best to do it in tandem with getting married for added fun and frolics. We both came to it with backgrounds in the design and construction industry and in 2014 the time just felt right.
Rob: As with Liz, it was only a matter of time before we did look to venture out and set up Mortar & More and 2014 felt right as there were green shoots appearing where the economy was recovering, and we wanted to make our own stamp. We had developed a lot of good relationships with people over the years who provided lots of support at the start.
Liz: We’ve been lucky in that we have clearly defined roles. I lead the creative side of the studio and would also liaise with clients. I love all aspects of what we do but it makes it a lot easier to have the clear division of rolls between us both.
Rob: And I lead the business side while also being a client lead. I also look after the procurement for all our projects and manage the day-to-day running of the business. For both of us, being the one point of contact for our clients is very important to us, and we have forged strong relationships with the people and businesses we have worked with. We find it makes what can be an intimidating process more open for clients to engage.
Mortar & More
Liz: We always received the advice to leave work in the office, and we genuinely thought we had this figured out (for the first couple of weeks!). But the reality is that we talk about work quite a bit. It’s hard to separate the two. I find downtime can become the time you are most likely to be creative and think outside the box, so brainstorming on holidays can have some great outcomes.
We don’t avoid talking about it and we do have our time when we switch off too and get nicely distracted by family. We enjoy our work very much but what really inspires us is when we get to work with passionate people and use our skills to help them develop and achieve their goals. There is a piece of work – a woodblock letterpress print by one of my favourite designers Anthony Burrill – that sums up our simple inspiration… Work Hard & Be Nice To People.
Rob: A healthy balance does the trick. It’s good to be able to bounce ideas off one another and to have an alternative perspective, particularly through challenges. I must say though, I do like the wind down at the weekends.
Liz: The most exciting is seeing the team working through projects together and celebrating wins together, that’s what I love most. I think challenges are par for the course in business and make you grow and change you for the better (hopefully!).
Rob: The most exciting thing for me is the creative process, seeing concepts come together through brainstorming and in-team collaboration. The biggest challenge is IT!
Liz: The team in studio are my biggest inspiration. Yep, that sounds cheesy – but it’s true. They are a talented group. I also love hearing and learning from the designers and manufacturers we collaborate with, that’s also hugely inspiring. And there is a wealth of brilliant and vibrant entrepreneurs in Ireland who are always here to help and support businesses on this island, which of late has been a huge influence and source of inspiration.
Rob: What inspires me the most is family, gets me out of bed in the morning (literally) and gives me the drive to succeed in what we do. I also get amazing motivation from seeing our team create great design solutions.
Liz: Presenting to a client in a business hotel modelled on a landlocked pirate ship in the middle of Eastern Europe. Nuff said!
Rob: March 2020, along with millions of others globally, trying to figure out how to best work at home with little people in the mix.
Liz: There are a lot, but I would love to have the opportunity for us to work with a global brand on an experience-driven retail environment. It is an area we are passionate about as a studio and the creative opportunity for brands looking to enter this space are endless.
Rob: Personally, I would love to collaborate with an iconic car manufacturer in the development of a new experiential showroom, maybe in Maranello.
Liz: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Rob: My mother told me, many years ago, if there is ever a knock on this door, you are in big trouble! It worked, there never was.
Liz: I love a sea swim, there’s nothing like it to switch off and unwind. Second to that, heading west to Connemara.
Rob: Skateboarding with the little one and spending time outdoors.
Liz: I have an unbelievable appetite for Hula Hoops (the edible variety) at the moment.
Rob: I can hold my breath for 2.5 minutes, very handy when you swim like an anchor!