THE BEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF DUALITY
Bringing Tom Wood into the upper elite of fashion retailers across the world, is not something the Norwegian duo Mona Jensen and Morten Isachsen did by accident. We talked to them about duality and driving towards perfect alignment.
– It’s never been my goal to be the boss, says Mona Jensen, the soul and founder of Norwegian fashion house Tom Wood. Goal or not, Mona’s discerning eyes and direct energy make her a commanding presence. Perhaps this is because it’s hard to file her into any one category. Feminine or masculine? Intuitive or practical? Artist or businessperson? Tossed up against Mona and her understated confidence, binaries disintegrate.
After graduating from university with a degree in Economics in 1999, Mona was immediately hired by Price Waterhouse Cooper. She spent six months in their rigorous training program, but soon realised something was amiss.
– I studied business because I’m so pragmatic. But it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.
She left pwc to pursue a career in marketing and project management. Around the same time, Mona met Morten Isachsen, a free spirit who had opted out of the traditional educational path in favour of life experience. They married in 2010, and along the way, they’ve raised two daughters and launched several successful business ventures between them.
– Morten is my best colleague, my best partner. I admire him for everything he can do. He helps me be as tough as I need to be in this business.
In 2015, Morten joined Mona at Tom Wood as Managing Director. The couple drives to work together almost every morning, talking about the day’s objectives.
– These small, important conversations help us to be pretty much aligned at all times, says Morten.
As life would have it, their marriage also planted an early seed for Tom Wood.
– I don’t think of myself as very feminine, and I’ve never worn much jewellery, explains Mona. When we went looking for wedding rings, Morten found a pair of vintage, men’s signet rings. I had mine sized down, and we had our wedding date engraved on the flat face.
After building her own marketing agency, Jimmy Royal, into a successful business, Mona decided to step back and focus on doing something creative and personal. She decided to try her hand at ring design.
– I made these pretty terrible drawings. They were signet rings, but modern and minimal. I started with a line of twelve. Several women’s magazines refused to advertise them at first, saying they were too masculine. But then something changed.