Team Tee Hee Hee found out about Mammu through our myHarapan mentor, Jamali. Mammu makes high end scarfs that are handmade by mothers. At the GSBS today, we managed to track down the founder of Mammu, Fionn Dobbin, and asked him some of our burning questions. Fionn was in the middle of something when we stopped him in his tracks and blurted out questions one after another! So thanks Fionn for answering our questions so patiently 🙂
These were our questions and please note I’m paraphrasing his answers coz I didn’t have any recording device with me at that time. So, sorry Fionn if I misquoted/misunderstood you. Feel free to correct me via the reply function below.
1. How do you ensure the mothers you work with are “mothers in need”?
What does “in need” mean anyway? If they need the job, it means they’re in need. Who am I to judge them? I can’t say “Hey I spotted you eating lobster, so I won’t hire you anymore”.
2. Do you work with single mothers only?
No because sometimes single mothers don’t like to have the whole world know they’re single mothers. And single mothers can get into relationships. How can I stop them from working just because they’re no longer single?
3. How do you recruit mothers? Do you specify they need to be from a certain income group?
No, our job advertisement only mentions we are hiring mothers who have children and need flexible working arrangements. (I think he mentioned something about being unable to afford childcare but I’m not sure)
4. Do you provide sewing machines to these mothers?
No, the mothers who respond to our job ad are mothers who are already seamstresses. Just like how you wouldn’t respond to a job ad for a car mechanic, a mother won’t respond to jobs they cannot do. So they already have sewing machines.
5. How long is your training?
Sometimes it takes just 1 day and within a week, they’re producing scarves. These mothers already have sewing skills and our products are simple to make.
6. How do you ensure the quality of scarves you sell are up to standard?
We only buy scarves that are well-made. Mothers are entrepreneurs so they know we won’t buy their scarves if we cannot sell them (due to quality issues).
7. How does it work? Do you buy it from them then sell them?
Yes, we provide them with materials and place the order with them.We’ll only buy it if it meets our quality requirements.
8. What is the drop-out rate?
Most single mothers don’t drop out. There are some who do it for a few weeks and decide that making these scarves are too tedious and stop. That’s fine.
9. What kind of fabric do you use?
We currently use fabric made in Latvia. We’d like to move towards using more eco-friendly materials like organic cotton from India but they’re too expensive for the volume we’re producing right now.
– Make great quality, great looking products. The backstory of the products are important but secondary to good products.
– Sell the products at small shops that are able to explain to customers about your products.
Thanks for your insights, Fionn! It was very helpful.