We’re pleased to kick off Fairtrade Fortnight by introducing you to one of NZ’s online clothing stores at the forefront of doing good business. Tummah Ethical Trade is an online clothing website that operates within the values of honesty, decency and fairness.
In their own words, integrity acts as an anchor for the business. In fact, the unique name “Tummah”, translates as the Biblical Hebrew word for integrity. The website stocks products that have been certified both Fairtrade and Organic; allowing shoppers to browse easily, online and guilt-free. Categories listed on the website include Accessories, Men’s Clothing, Women’s Clothing and even sports equipment.
Here at Ecomailbox, we understand that living in the 21st century, being conscious about shopping decisions isn’t always easy. However, Tummah Ethical Trade is making this possible. We commend this business, not only for working with sincerity but for their wholehearted effort to provide New Zealanders with an opportunity to shop with sincerity. Ecomailbox had the pleasure of talking with Founder, Caleb Morris, about how and why Tummah Ethical Trade does what they do.
How did Tummah Ethical Trade begin – how did this business get started?
We began a personal journey ourselves of discovering what values and ethics we wanted to support with items we purchased. Initially, friends introduced us to the idea and benefits of choosing organic foods. From there, we went deeper and when the time came to purchase clothing again, we decided that we wanted to choose Fairtrade clothing. Buying items are so much more than merely consuming. When it came to trying to source these Fairtrade clothing options, we found it difficult in New Zealand. There was no Fairtrade underwear available, and the clothing options were more in the designer line and hence, fairly expensive. Everyday affordable ethical options did not really exist, so we decided to do something about it, and make Fairtrade clothing more accessible to the ever-increasing movement of those conscious consumers.
Here at Ecomailbox, we have so much respect for businesses that do good. What was the motivation behind stocking fair-trade and organic clothing?
When there is a choice between conventional fashion and Fairtrade certified fashion, then the decision is a no brainer. Fairtrade is about more than just a fair price. It’s about ensuring the livelihood of farmers and factory workers in the manufacturing process; whilst also supporting the communities they are a part of. The motivation isn’t about making ourselves appear morally superior, it’s more than the other option simply isn’t okay. Effectively with conventional fashion, we are saying as consumers that we are okay for farmers to be exposed to harsh chemical or workers to face horrendous working conditions, just so we can get a shirt for a few dollars less.
Our motivation for choosing Fairtrade and organic is simply – because it is better for the farmer, the manufacturer, and the consumer who wears the product. Simply put, it’s better for everyone!
What are the key messages you would like potential shoppers to understand about Tummah Ethical Trade?
We exist to make Fairtrade organic clothing more accessible and affordable for all New Zealanders. Consumers need to understand that our products are never going to be cheap as some places, that’s simply not possible. Those clothes are so cheap because of one glaring reason. Although we aren’t a not-for-profit business, our margins are low. Tummah Ethical Trade is a labour of love, not the next big money-making enterprise.
What challenges having you faced whilst working for Tummah Ethical Trade?
Firstly, this business is completely funded out of our own pockets, and we are just your average everyday young couple. As mentioned above, it has been a labour of love to get this off the ground. However, once we had the dream for this we just had to do it, there was no turning back.
One thing we have struggled a bit with is getting our name out there. Further, trying to get people on board with the Fairtrade movement has not been easy, as a lot of people shop solely on price and will not actually investigate what the Fairtrade difference even is. In saying that, everyone we’ve worked with has responded positively and been very supportive of what we are doing.
Finally, we are targeting ‘conscious consumers’. Consumers who think about their purchases, and do not buy willy-nilly all the time. Therefore, a loyal customer for us may only purchase something every few months, instead of every couple of weeks as at other fashion stores.
What are some goals for the future of Tummah Ethical Trade?
We would love to be able to bring in new brands to offer a more comprehensive range to consumers. Included in this would be the introduction of children’s clothing, which should be starting very soon. However, we, unfortunately, do not have the equity at the moment to really expand our range. Another dream would be to have a brick and mortar store! This would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce and educate more people about Fairtrade, through foot traffic of everyday shoppers. Ultimately, we want to introduce more people to the benefits of ethical clothing, and begin a change in the New Zealand market. To ensure that products stocked in New Zealand are made by workers who are making a decent living.
What’s the one piece of advice you would hope for readers to take away from this article?
Don’t be discouraged or feel guilty if it takes a time to get started. Yes, it can seem like it will cost a lot to switch to ethical clothing, but if you are choosing a wardrobe more consciously, then the cost will even out. When you treat clothing as an investment rather than a consumable – and actually get the full life out of the products – then the quality of Fairtrade organic clothing will begin to shine through over time. Also, you get the health benefits of organic clothing, as you are no longer exposed to the harsh chemicals that remain in the fabric of conventional clothing. Even trying to buy less from fast fashion stores so they aren’t getting your money and therefore your vote is a great step in the right direction.
“It’s about starting to ask questions before you purchase: do I know who made this, how they were treated, how long it will last, and whether I will actually wear it a lot?”
Good On Ya, Tummah Ethical Trade! ☺ Shop their beautiful range here