Founder, Melanie Morton talks life mantras, five year plans and why her team is everything.

Melanie Morton came up with the concept for YUNION T when, after years of frustration at not being able to find good quality, well-designed and stylish basics, she decdied to make them herself.

Melanie’s design trajectory began at university, where she studied Fashion Design, before detouring for some 20 years with a career in PR & Marketing. One marriage and two kids later, she took take the leap, and launched YUNION T, her own range that would rethink basics, elevating them from an after-thought to the staple everyday heroes of any wardrobe. Here, she talks life mantras, five year plans and why her team is everything.

I came up with the idea when…

I was in my garden with my best friend having a coffee. Both of us were sitting there wearing white t-shirts, and talking about how rubbish they were and how hard it was to find a good quality one. After 20 minutes of moaning about see-through tees that last one wash before heading for the bin – and which show every lump and bump - I made a rather sweeping statement: ‘Well, that’s it! I’m going to do it, how hard can it be?’. That was the moment YUNION T was conceived. Then, after much research and development, I launched three years later.

The biggest challenge is…

I have cut out the middleman, and my business model is to sell direct to the customer via my website. As you can imagine, the white t-shirt market is a very crowded environment with most fashion retailers selling tees, so it is hard to communicate via a website why your t-shirt is so different from everything else out there. This is why I always like to do the big consumer shows so people can experience my tees in the flesh. When they have tried one on, they really understand why they are so different, from the flattering cut and fit to the premium fabric and non see-through quality. Both the fabric and the t-shirts are made in the UK; they are ethically produced and made to last. Also, I can’t not mention ‘cash flow’ and to use the well oiled phrase, it most definitely is ‘king’. Just basic running costs are needed to keep the business ticking along, plus large amounts of upfront costs to pay for fabric and garment production, so I have to plan ahead.



The average day is spent…

After doing the school run, I walk the dogs (an old Working Cocker and a three year old rambunctious Lab). I then commence the long commute to my studio - I am very spoilt as as my office/studio is in a converted stable block a one-minute walk from my house in the garden. I am at my desk by 8.30/9.00am. The first thing I do is trawl through my emails, and then check on order. After that, no two days are the same. I can be working on marketing strategy, going through the accounts, sitting and drawing new designs, and working on sampling, or working on shows or future Pop-Up shops. There is never a dull moment, and it most definitely is not a 9-5 job. Having your own business is part of your life, and you are always thinking of new ideas or things that need to be done.

The team consists of…

Me, my wonderful freelance assistant, Kate, and my freelance online marketer, Lydia. I do have other freelancers that I go to for production and PR as and when I need them.

My favourite quote is…

‘Buy less, choose well, make it last’ - Vivienne Westwood. This is a favourite quote as it succinctly gets the message across that if you by better quality clothing it will have a longer lifespan, which is a key thing about my tees.

I am where I am today because of…

I did a 360-degree shift career-wise. My passion for design started many years ago and led me into studying Fashion Design at university. My life path took a detour with a 20-year career in PR & Marketing, 12 years of which were spent as a Senior Board Director at a top London agency, focusing on the retail, food and drink, luxury, fashion and beauty sectors. All of this experience was invaluable when setting up YUNION T. Plus, I would not be anywhere with out my incredibly supportive family and friends, who have encouraged me throughout my journey.

I am who I am because…

I grew up on a farm, and it was a proper ‘all hands on deck’ working farm. My parents taught my sisters and me how to work hard; to be respectful; and to treat others how you would like to be treated. They also engendered in us that you must stand up for yourself and be proud of what you can achieve from hard work; how to pick yourself up and crack on when things don’t always go to plan. I know it all sounds like the school of hard knocks, but this was mixed in with tons of love. I have also been fortunate enough in my career to have met some inspiring people along the way, who have been a big influence.



The best advice I’ve been given is…

‘Never assume’. An old work colleague and friend once said this to me, and there has never been a truer statement. This has been a personal mantra throughout both my work and personal life.

In five years I’d like to be…

The go to ethical brand for women’s luxury basics. When a customers thinks, ‘I need a new t-shirt that is made to last and looks amazing’, that they think of YUNION T. To grow the business and the team to allow me to put all the exciting ideas I have in to play.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online is…

You can have the most beautiful and amazing website, but tagging and working on SEO, PR and social media planning is absolutely key, otherwise your stunning website won’t get seen. Also, I think you need to get your product out into the hands of people, so direct-to-consumer interaction is also important. It is about finding the right balance for your business. You have to be in it for the long game as well, as establishing a new brand/product takes time.

The websites I most frequently use are…

So many! thegoodtrade.com – is such an inspiring content site for sustainable living; Atterley and Net a Porter for fashion; houzz.co.uk for interiors porn and Pinterest as a brilliant platform for inspiration and to create moodboard to share with my team.

What is your biggest mistake and what has it taught you…

When I get asked for advice by people who are looking to set up their own online business, one of my key learnings I share is about setting up my first website. There are so many different options and packages out there now, and this was definitely one of the hard lessons I learnt, and I’d say was my initial mistake. I was definitely not as savvy as I am now regarding the site development side of things and I would have done things very differently if I could have my time again.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

Instagram which, I feel, is one of the best social media platforms for my audience. Shopify POS has transformed my life from a stock control perspective.

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