Central St. Martins trained, innovative pattern cutter, clothing designer mastermind, mother, climber, yogi and 3RD ROCK founder, Jessica Mor.
3RD ROCK Founder & Designer Jessica Mor
Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your brand 3RD ROCK…
3RD ROCK’s journey started in 2009 while I was a pattern cutter for catwalk designers in the London fashion industry.
I was acutely aware of the destructive side of the fashion industry and quit when I was asked to cut an Arctic fox fur jacket. Being asked to create something from the fur of an endangered species was the final straw.
A month later I found myself on an African conservation project as a volunteer to clear my conscience. While in South Africa I met my now husband and he introduced me to rock climbing. I totally fell in love with it and noticed a big gap in the market for well-fitted, functional yet beautiful climb-wear.
I was inspired to create my own alternative clothing brand, focusing on made-to-move, ethically-produced garments that enhance performance and comfort.
Over the next two years, I designed and developed our first collection and launched 3RD ROCK to the world in July 2012. Since then the brand has grown and grown. We are now an established online brand with customers across the UK, Europe, USA and Japan.
And we’re now moving into everyday activewear. Yes, we make clothing that is tough, strong and flexible for climbers, and in climbing, clothes need to be durable but also the epitome of comfort – moving with the body in an extreme way. But I’ve now taken this level of tailoring and transferred it into clothes for whatever active lives people want to lead, whether it’s yoga, running or spin. I know if it works for climbers, it will work for anyone in their everyday lives.
I started 3RD ROCK because I needed to make clothing that is useful, that is worn to death, and that is respectful to the planet and its inhabitants.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
When I started the business I took off my kitchen door and used that as a ‘big’ work table in a small spare corner to create my clothes, but when the business started to grow beyond what I could manage alone, I realised that I needed a team and more space, things then got serious. The responsibility of having people working for you brings a lot of pressure financially and you have to make it work for their livelihoods as well as your own.
There were many ‘fires’ to be put out that would pop up all the time in the beginning, but I have learnt that forward planning and foreseeing problems in advance can help avoid big meltdowns and more stress.
Saying that, it’s child’s-play compared to balancing family and running a business – but I know I’m not the only woman out there juggling both, I’d say it’s important to laugh…a lot…and dance through it, which I do, round the office mostly, these days.
If you to were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?
ETHICAL. RESPONSIBLE. INNOVATIVE… and PLAYFUL (can I have four? Please!)
What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the lifestyle clothing sector?
Know your audience and what their needs are. In an area as specialist as climbing I need to understand how climbers wear my clothes, how they move in them and what pressures they put them under. The same principle goes for everyday wear.
Not being afraid to listen when things don’t work is another piece of advice I would give. Sometimes it’s easy to get defensive and believe you have the perfect idea but being open to other peoples’ suggestions means sometimes great changes happen – making a change where needed can transform a business.
And staying true to what you believe and what you want your business to stand for is really important. Tapping into your personal interests helps keep your passion alive – do something you love and the rest falls into place (most of the time).
Finally, stick to what you are good at in the business you are growing. It’s so easy to get into a rut of doing everything yourself but delegate to survive. Find the right people to work with – they’ll do it faster and better. Stick to your forte.
Jessica getting THE shot on Gargoyle Flake, Bamford Edge. Peak District, UK.
Business and Brand Development
Well first thing I get sat on in bed by two small kids and a cat, then I rush around to get breakfasts made, lunches packed, forest kit sorted for the little one and stains out of school ties. Then I leave the house with just enough time to make the school gate before it’s closing!
I eat my breakfast at work while checking my emails and getting organised for the day. Then I spend my mornings exploring and creating new clothing patterns, developing garments and working with our production manager to finalise samples with factories, doing fittings in the office and testing our new development lines.
A lot of what I do focuses on how we make product advancements and improve our processes. I’m always on the lookout for new styles and trends as well as improvements to 3RD ROCK’s sustainable credentials, so research is a big part of my job as well as talking to our network of suppliers and partners.
Then in the afternoon I’m in the Studio – I’m sewing, fitting the garments I’ve made, amending the patterns, re-cutting and sewing until the fit and movement of the garments work perfectly. I make a lot of working samples that we can give to climbers to test for us and feedback on their experience with them.
In between all of that we have a lot of fun as a team. Breaks are important – they’ll hate me for saying this but I do like to get the team up to have a little dance. I’m obsessed with dance music; Cola by CamelPhat is my fave tune!
Climbing. It’s such a wonderful form of escapism and freedom. If I’m battling a problem, or a design just won’t quite work, I can head out and just clear my head. Just working my way up a long sports climb route, where all you focus on are the moves you make, is like therapy for my head and I feel like a new person when I come down. I suppose there is an element of mindfulness to it as you have to live in the moment and other pressures melt away.
I love yoga and hanging with the family too….and I mentioned the dancing!
Also, our office and studio is in an Old Mill set in the most beautiful grounds, called the River Gardens – which happen to have enormous swan pedalos on it at the moment, so occasionally we go out as a team and race up the river on those. If we aren’t feeling as lively we can always escape out there and take a minute to walk around and reset.
“Come on Jessie, you can do it”
Gives me throw backs to my South African tennis coach when I was ten but it still rings true now!
Social media plays a huge role – it’s the way business is going now, especially for small, independent businesses like ours. It’s how you connect with people – provide them with news, shop and connect.
We find that Instagram is particularly good at allowing us to show the personality of the brand and also gives our ambassadors opportunity to talk to us and inspire other people with their experiences and climbing stories.
Empowered, confident, comfortable, with a clear conscience and ready for action.
I want them to fall in love with the garments and never want to take them off.
Our clothes are made well – in every sense – so people buy, consciously knowing they’ve made a good choice for them and the planet.
Wow, that is a good question – there are so many places I’d love to go! I think it would be between Israel and Thailand. We have a lot of friends and family in Israel and with the lockdowns and travel restrictions we haven’t been able to see them for so long. It will be a very special trip when we can get back there.
But then Ton Sai, Thailand is where my husband and I forged the idea for 3RD ROCK, while on a climbing trip (it’s a climbers paradise) – the rest as they say is history. Go there, it’s stunning!
As for what I would take with me, I’d need a decent sized rucksack, and in it I’d pack a pair of Buttress denim shorts, our new tough Matilda leggings to protect against the ‘tufas’ (stalactites) which you need to get very physical with. I’d also take my Equinox bra and Tide bikini set, as I could wear those for deep water soloing and lazing on the beach afterwards.
Can I go there now please?
The brand is moving forward fast. As I mentioned before we are diversifying into more yoga and activewear with our AW lines and Summer 22 collection. We are also exploring collaborations with other artists for a limited edition print collective called WILD I.
Our collaboration with vintage, nostalgic designer Julie Nixon of Craftevan launched this summer – it’s a capsule collection that’ll see you channeling those nostalgic vibes.
The pieces are inspired by childhood memories like camping in the woods, road trips and most of all adventures in classic cars. Julie’s beautiful hand drawn designs explore 60s flower power and a love for retro adventure in fabric. I’ve brought our signature made-to-move cut to the table and created the clothes in soft-as-butter, organic cotton and sustainable fabrics, so it really is something special.
We hope to do more of this in 2022.
Also, in the lead up to Christmas we have very exciting new denim styles launching, which are poised to be the most ethical jeans out there. They’re black and feature our special 3RD ROCK 4-way stretch EcoMorph Denim that even has recycled elastane too this season. The women’s style is a skinny high rise called Marple and the men’s is called Mercury – our signature style cut finally made in denim. Hoorah!
Thanks for reading. We're 3RD ROCK. We design and manufacture sustainable climbing clothes & activewear that's made to move and made to last. Using recycled ocean plastic, organic cotton and upcycled materials, we're making items that help protect the very environments we depends on for our adventures.
We've been awarded "Most Ethical Climbing Brand" by the Ethical Consumer trade bodybeating out Black Diamond, Prana and even Patagonia!
It's our way of saying "no" to fast fashion, "yes" to protecting the climate and "absolutely" to a life spent outdoors.