A few beers on a night out led three Edinburgh entrepreneurs to ditch the day jobs and get serious about skintight spandex.
Many entrepreneurs dream of finding a way to make a living that involves working with their mates to build up a business founded on a common passion.
Andthat’s exactly what brothers Ali and Fraser Smeaton, along with childhood friend Gregor Lawson, have done. MorphCostumes sells fancy dress outfits – lots of them. The Edinburgh-based business has turned over between £10m and £11m for the past three years, and all of this stems from a spark of inspiration on a drunken stag do.
‘A friend of ours had come back from holiday in Japan with an all-in-one blue spandex suit,’ explains Ali. ‘It was very thick and not particularly stretchy, but he got an incredible reaction.’
This inspired Ali, Fraser and Gregor to buy suits to wear on a ski trip. The three boys in their suits brought the resort to a standstill and this was all the motivation they needed. In 2009 they set up the business selling spandex fancy dress suits online.
Working corporate jobs and running MorphCostumes soon became im possible and the threesome quit their jobs in 2010.
Following an explosion of marketing on social media, which saw wearers in the ‘see-through, drink-through’ costumes competing to down pints of water in the shortest time (6.2 seconds in case you’re interested), the business has now expanded to include regular fancy dress for those less inclined to don a lycra costume.
‘We work with what we call costume wizards, who we meet at competitions in the US,’ says Ali. ‘These guys are building things like 20ft-high Transformers suits, so we adapt and simplify their designs to make them work.’
Right now their Stormtroopers are going down a storm and there are always new designs in the pipeline.
For more information visit www.morphsuits.co.uk
(This feature was originally published in 2016)