Monday, February 26, 2024
Monday, February 26, 2024
Home » Former Nisa Staff to Fundraise to Restart The Ethical Clothing Business

Former Nisa Staff to Fundraise to Restart The Ethical Clothing Business

by Edwin Chambers
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Former staff members of a Wellington clothing brand that created jobs for women migrants and refugees, are trying to claw the company back into businesses.

Nisa, an ethical brand manufacturing underwear and swimwear, was forced to close last month.

But former staff members have pulled together to launch a PledgeMe fundraiser, hoping to reopen the workshop and continue supporting the women who worked there.

Former employee Lorraine said all the women who worked at Nisa have been supported to pursue their goals and celebrated for their differences.

Her family moved to New Zealand from the Philippines when she was 12.

Lorraine said Nisa’s mission to create opportunities for refugee and migrant women encouraged her to apply for a job there.

“As someone who is a migrant and who knows the troubles of getting a job, especially when English is your second language and you’ve come from another country, it’s quite an inspiring business.”

Lorraine was a junior machinist making underwear with Nisa for almost a year.

She was devastated when it closed.

“I was away at the time too so I couldn’t even be with everyone, so that was quite gutting to find out.”

So was production supervisor Queen Sudagar, a refugee originally from Sri Lanka.

“I was devastated to know Nisa was shutting because that is where I feel most at ease and I enjoy working with everyone there as well.”

New co-owner Pam Lowe is one of the original staffers working to restart Nisa.

She said the company shut down not out of a lack of love for the product but because sales had fallen due to the rising cost of living.

The founder also wanted to spend more time with family and could not sell the business, she said.

Lowe said a PledgeMe campaign will be launched next week to fundraise for the $80,000 needed to reopen.

The money will go towards restocking the shelves and re-employing the team of machinists.

“We’ll have the website and shop up and running as soon as we can.

“But for that we need to be able to pay the staff to make the things, we need to be able to buy the fabrics, the elastics…”.

The support shown by buyers when the business was closing down proved there was still a market for Nisa underwear, she said.

“We really, really cleared the shelves.

“Anyone that came to the workroom could see I was literally sewing to replenish sizes of undies that had sold out as people were shopping.”

Another former machinist who migrated to New Zealand from Japan agreed.

She said Nisa received a lot of love when it closed.

“We received a lot of heart warming messages from our customers.

“They were really gutted that we were closing and they wanted to support us as much as possible.”

She was happy to hear the business may reopen.

“It’s a great environment.

“It’s a place that people from different backgrounds can feel safe and grow professionally.”

Co-owner Li Ling Ho was confident people would support the fundraiser.

“There’s a lot of people out there who support New Zealand made products, ethical manufacturing, ethical businesses, and women led businesses as well.”

Former machinist Lorraine hopes the fundraiser pulls the business through.

“If I could go back [to work at Nisa], I probably would because I got to learn a lot and it’s been a great group of people to work with.”

The PledgeMe campaign will launch at midday on 14 August.

Only time will tell whether the workers can achieve their dream of putting Nisa back on New Zealand’s fashion map and reigniting the futures of refugee and migrant women.

Source: RNZ

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