Like a lot of entrepreneurs, Pashorina Mortty wanted to do something completely different when she began her career. The owner and creator of events firm The One Event, she originally wanted to be a journalist.
But having gone to university in the UK, and worked for 15 years for London PR firms, she decided to start her own firm.
Her original career choice was inspired by her father, himself a journalist. Born in London, the family later moved to Sierra Leone.
“I had my career mapped out,” she recalls. “I was going to be a foreign correspondent in China.”
To bring the dream into fruition, she studied journalism and politics at the University of Central Lancashire. Paschorina aspired to be on TV even while she worked her first job at a local paper, although she found it quite a struggle. “I got a lot of doors slammed in my face for telling the truth,” she explains. “I was told that there was no room for black faces.”
Not being deterred by this rejection, she sharpened her writing and communication skills and went back to pursuing her career with an open mind.
A complete career switch was on the cards when she got a job to work in public relations. Initially she focussed on healthcare PR, but after three years she pressed to move into other spheres.
“I went from healthcare to consumer, consumer to lifestyle, then fashion, drink industry – I did loads of consumer PR work and I loved it”, she enthuses.
Shortly after getting married, with her first child on the way, Paschorina chose to give up her job at the agency to spend more time with her family.
But Mortty soon began to miss the work, the paycheck and the security that came with it. Her Ghanaian husband, a life-long entrepreneur, suggested she try her hands at setting up her own business.
He converted the family’s spare room in their London home for her to use as an office. She was unsure. After all, entrepreneurship wasn’t something she had previously dreamed of.
But she gave it a go and decided to set up The One Event. In the beginning, there weren’t many clients and Mortty could handle the workload easily. But the industry hadn’t forgotten her and her talent. She got calls from the agency asking her to return to her job. She wouldn’t budge.
“When I was on maternity leave with my first and only child I knew I was ready to work for myself,” she explained in a previous interview.
“So this break in my career gave me the opportunity to really focus on making it a reality. I wanted to exploit the skills I already had so it was a natural progression to set a business in PR and events.
“I developed a very basic business plan to give some focus to the business and from there simply ‘went for it’ in terms of spreading the word about our services and approaching potential new clients. Because I had worked in the industry for 10 years I was able to exploit my contacts and generate new business from there, which is why about 80% of our business comes through referrals and recommendations.”
She soon landed a big contract to organize an event for a thousand people around the London Olympics in 2012, a key break for her new business.
The One Event would go on to focus on charity events, becoming respected in the UK in that field as well.
When her family decided to move to Ghana, she was forced to begin all over again, this time in Ghana – a completely different beat from that which she was used to.
Again, business started slowly, but picked up through word of mouth. The One Event would soon win the hearts of beloved brands in Ghana.
As the client list grew, there was a risk that Mortty’s time and efforts might be dilute. But she refused to risk that, and firmly maintains that the firm will remain a small boutique PR agency, so that she can take care of each client the best way she desired. “For me maintaining my existing clients is more important than bringing in the new client because they are my ambassadors,” she explains.
So what is her advice to other women starting out in business? “That you should always go for what you want to achieve in life – it can sometimes be very tough and challenging but we all know that you have work hard for anything worth achieving, so go for it!”