Stockist Focus – Fair trade clothing and lifestyle store in Estonia
Since our Nomads journey began in 1989 running small market stalls, we are proud to have grown to now stock our sustainable clothing in over 300 independent shops worldwide. We work with stores that share our ethos of spreading the slow fashion and sustainable message – and we wanted to share some of these wonderful shops with you.
We’re starting our stockist focus with the wonderful Ehe Mood in Estonia, with owners Ülle and Külli sharing their story with us.
How did Ehe Mood begin?
The founders of Ehe Mood are us –two sisters– Ülle and Külli. Although we both hold a degree in engineering, we have spent most of our lives working in the Lutheran church. Our story began in the summer of 2009, when Külli's younger son was born. In order to feed the family, she needed to find additional income, and as two women with a passion towards handicraft, we were looking for materials to fulfill one of our ideas. However, in the course of our searches, we came across the Nomads Clothing website purely by chance and it was love at first sight! We were fascinated by Nomads' cheerful, free and original style and, above all, business ethics that matched our view of life. We had never had a business experience before, but we had some experience selling at trade fairs. The day of Seto Kingdom was coming up and we decided to ask Nomads if it was possible to buy wholesale clothing to sell on the fair of Seto Kingdom Day. We received a quick and kind yes from Nomads and this is where our journey began.
Introducing Nomads on Seto Kingdom Day
Seto Kingdom Day is a spirited and colorful annual cultural event in southeastern Estonia, a place where the culture of Estonia blends with our eastern neighbors, Russia. It was an extraordinarily hot August day – the weather was extreme with no clouds in the sky and we were running out of drinking water - Külli's two-month-old son hid in the bushes to shelter from the heat! But the Nomads Gypsy skirts and striped men's shirts were just made for that colourful place and people. The highlight of the day, however, was when a fragile Finnish girl bought a Nomads coat, which was clearly too big for her, but she just couldn't let go of it. We thought that if we had experienced success in a place under such conditions, and were able to make a decent profit, then there was a hope we would survive in the capital as well!
Ehe Mood – the first company in Estonia selling only Fair Trade clothing
Shortly after our success at Seto Kingdom Day, we rented one room on the plinth floor, which customers could only access by pressing the doorbell on certain days and times. And people found it! Six months later, we opened a tiny shop with a jewelery retailer in the Old Town of Tallinn, where we only had one small display of clothes. After a year we moved into a much larger room, which, unfortunately, was a little too big at the time. The search was on, but we did not want to go to a regular mall or be a standalone store as it can be challenging to get by for a new business. Then there opened an extraordinary opportunity to rent a space in Telliskivi Creative City. Ehe Mood passed the 'tests' and we were received only because of our business ethics – fair trade and organic products. We were one of the first companies to receive recognition as a Fair Trade Friend from the Estonian Fair Trade Organisation in 2014.
Tell us about the location of your store -
Telliskivi Creative City is a space for small and unique enterprises. Walking from the picturesque medieval Old Town of Tallinn towards Kalamaja (Fish House), famous for its wooden architecture by the sea, right between the two romantic areas lies the former railway yard. Back in the early 21st century it was like a frontier zone where the common people did not go. Today, it is a very popular place with a vibrant atmosphere. The new owners of the ten buildings in the yard did not begin to destroy and demolish, but believed that it was worth saving and restoring. Over the past 12 years, they have transformed a former industrial area into a creative business centre for the Estonian creative community. Telliskivi Creative City has become a friendly space for innovative and delicate ideas and projects. There are more than a couple of hundred companies, seven restaurants, two theaters and 25 small indie shops that have found a place with support to grow strong. One of these small shops is Ehe Mood.
Tell us about your name, Ehe Mood?
We sometimes wonder, what does an English-speaking person think of when reading a word pair – Ehe Mood. From time to time we receive messages on Facebook from German-speaking men who, when they see Nomads' beautiful models and the word "ehe" (in German "marriage"), think that this is a matchmaking agency! In Estonian, the word "ehe" means "genuine, pure" as well as "adornment, jewellery" and the word "mood" means "fashion". Therefore it is a word game for Estonians: "genuine, pure fashion" and "jewellery and fashion". Our slogan – "mitte ainult moe pärast" – is also a word game and it means that fashion is not the most important thing for us and we do our work from the heart.
What other products do you sell?
One Estonian man described our shop like this: a fair trade dress shop spiced up with some wine and chocolate. Indeed, we started selling only Nomads dresses, but it soon became clear to us that selling summer dresses in our climate would leave us without bread in the winter! So, in our 49 sqm store besides Nomads, we also sell other ethical brands womens clothing, soft bamboo socks, tagua jewelry from Columbia, leather bags from Afganistan and Africa (Gundara), Swazi candles, unique and exceptional Zotter chocolates, fair trade tea and coffee, and divine natural wines from small european wineries.
As a small company, we have also wanted to support other small businesses whose products meet at least one of three criteria: fair trade, organic, handicraft. Ülle, as a practitioner of Kriya Yoga, created a corner of the store dedicated to yoga where, in addition to high-quality sustainable yoga mats and accessories, the clothing of two Estonian yoga clothing brands are sold – GreenEst and Dakini.
And one of our most popular products, especially among tourists, are handmade hats. These hats, which are sewn by hand with great passion and love, can only be bought in our store and not anywhere else in the world!
Nomads is still in the heart of our business
During these nine years, we have experienced ups and downs, but never gave up. Alongside family and work, we have built from scratch a store known today as a place where clothing and accesories of completely different styles and natural fabrics are sold, compared to so-called ordinary shops. We have stayed true to our beliefs and still offer people the opportunity to make a different choice – to buy an ethically produced product. We have more partners today and the product range has expanded over the years, but Nomads is still at the heart of our business.
We can truly say that Ehe Mood exists thanks to Nomads. And now that we've been interacting with several other companies, it's fair to say that the way the Nomads team has co-operated with us is unique – friendly, flexible, accurate, prompt. This should not be taken for granted.
There is one thing we would like to highlight in the case of Nomads. We have done a lot of handicrafts in our youth and can appreciate the work of others. It is admirable that one brand today with stubborn consistency is adding handmade fabrics to its collections. We have many customers in Estonia and Finland who come to buy Nomads clothing for that reason.