Founder Caleb Morris runs Tummah with his wife. She and he had personally changed their purchasing patterns, he says, and hit upon the idea of an accessible, affordable ethical ecommerce venture after having trouble buying Fairtrade clothing for themselves.
“We had a great struggle trying to find this clothing in New Zealand, although it was fairly widespread overseas,” Morris says. “However, purchasing overseas can be frustrating, time consuming, risky and expensive. It was because of this we decided we would bring the Fairtrade clothing here, for all New Zealanders! We strongly felt that people were calling out for change, and we wanted to provide this alternative to people!”
The name ‘Tummah’ is Hebrew and translates to “integrity”. Morris says it was chosen because he wanted to show integrity in the way the business was conducted and the products it stocked.
"Ultimately we exist not for moral superiority, but to play our part in a new fashion industry that is both fairer on its workers and kinder to the environment."
Tummah has a focus on affordability as well as ethical transparency. Morris says the goal is to put a stop to the myth that Fairtrade clothing is expensive. The store will offer everyday clothing which is affordable for the average Kiwi.
“A lot of the other ethical clothing in New Zealand is designer avant garde clothing,” Morris says. “Don't get me wrong, these brands are doing great work! We just want to focus on making clothes affordable for everyone.”
“Of course, [Tummah’s range] is going to be more than a $10 t-shirt from a bargain store, but if you think about it, how can that [price point] really pay for the cotton growing, fabric manufacture, production and everything else that goes into it?”
Part of its offering is a line of ethically-made, whale-print Surfrider Foundation jandals made by Etiko Australia. Unlike the rest of Tummah’s range, they’re not certified Fairtrade, but Morris says this is only because no appropriate certification exists for jandals.
Morris says he was recently approached about the jandals by an individual leading an earthquake response initiative in Kaikoura.
“They had seen our ethical whale-print jandals and thought it would be a perfect product and asked if we would consider donating part of the sales to them,” he says. “We carry low margins on our products as we want to keep prices down to make ethical products more attractive to more people. However, we still were happy to play our part and therefore for every pair of the whale-print jandals we sell, we will be giving 25 percent of the sale price directly to the Kaikoura Earthquake Relief Fund.”
Morris says he was keen to take up the opportunity because it fit with Tummah’s business identity. When the business is more established, he and his wife will actively seek out missions to support and given a portion of the profit to various causes.
“For us, the Kaikoura project is the start of many, so it was a no brainer for us when we were offered the opportunity.”
Tummah isn’t the only retailer getting behind the relief effort in Kaikoura. After pledging to donate all the profit from last Saturday’s draw to quake-hit communities under orders from Internal Affairs minister Peter Dunne, Lotto is to give nearly $3 million.
Foodstuffs South Island has donated more than $50,000 to people in need after the quakes through its Community Trust, and given product to the Kaikoura marae and hospital.
Wainuiomata apparel retailer Denise Anglesey, who is originally from Kaikoura, raised in excess of $24,000 through a Givealittle page for Kaikoura’s earthquake relief fund. She has also set up ‘Secret Santa Surprise’ packages on her website, which are compiled from products supplied by five Kaikoura retailers: A Patch of Country, Gecko Gearz, Little Rock Kaikoura, Jade Kiwi and Beached As Souvenirs.
The secret Santa campaign will run until December 24.
“We decided that in the circumstances people wouldn’t mind to much if orders were slightly late,” Anglesey says. “The small businesses involved have been severely affected and this is a small way we can help out but we will be looking at fresh ideas and promotions for the new year to continue our support”.