In our previous Speak Of The Frog article, we fiercely pointed out that “made in Europe” isn't a guarantee of ethics. We at Népra speak for manufacturing inside Europe because of its great benefits. However, no financial advantage should come at the cost of somebody's private life.
We are a small brand with a team of two ladies without huge budgets. For us, small batches and short distances aren't only practical reasons, but these factors line up perfectly with our ecological values too. Also, from the day we started, we wanted to create a real partnership with our manufacturing. For these reasons, producing in Estonia was a natural choice for us from the beginning.
Now, we would like to give you insights about the Kamilla ladies behind your activewear. Without their decision to start to help us out with our project in 2015, we probably wouldn't be here now. Anneli and Laura agreed to answer our questions personally, and other workers at Kamilla answered collectively. We respect their wishes and only publish photos and texts, they are comfortable with.
Anneli was born in Tallinn and she has lived there her whole life. She has grown-up children, a dog and a cat in her family. Anneli tells us that she loves nature and gardening, but she also mentioned folk dancing and running as her hobbies.
"I love nature and gardening.” - Anneli
Anneli has a secondary education and has been working at Kamilla for 5 years. Before that, she used to work at the Post Office. Anneli is responsible for the quality control and completion of all orders at Kamilla. She packs and prepares ready-made Népras for our warehouse. Anneli says that packing Népra products is her favourite task.
During her free time and holidays, she likes to travel, spend time with family, visit events and go to the theatre. At Kamilla, they all have 28 days of a summer holiday in July and a small Christmas break. There are also 10 public holidays in Estonia.
Laura is our primary contact person at Kamilla, and Essi changes emails with her almost daily regarding orders in manufacturing, new products or patterns. Laura comes from a small town in South Estonia where she grew up with her younger brother. She went to Tallinn to study and stayed for work. Laura loves dancing, listening to music, riding a bike, reading books and sewing.
Before work at Kamilla, Laura studied Technical Design and Technology of Apparel at Tallinn University of Applied Sciences. She also had a customer service job at a clothing shop, and she did several internships in different sewing companies.
"Making lay plans is my most favourite task because I can give my little part to use materials as efficiently as possible.” - Laura
Laura started working at Kamilla four years ago, around the same time we began our cooperation with them. Her job includes pattern making, product development, and communication with clients. Laura is also responsible for making lay plans for production, and she says it's her favourite task because she can impact on the effective use of materials and reduce cut waste.
In her free time and holidays, Laura likes to rest and spend time with her family in the countryside in South Estonia. She also enjoys travelling and visiting music and dance festivals.
We also got some collective answers from the ladies, who are responsible for sewing and cutting. Most of them have worked at Kamilla for 8-10 years and before that, they have worked as seamstresses in other companies. Many mention gardening and handcrafting as their hobbies.
How many people are working at Kamilla?
How many hours do you work per day?
8 hours. Normal work time in Estonia is 8 hours per day 5 times per week.
What different tasks seamstresses or other workers do at Kamilla?
From the 13 employees, most of them are seamstresses. They work with many different sewing machines including overlock, binding, and buttonhole machine. Kamilla also has a packer, a cutter, an ironing lady, and constructors. They all also sew when necessary. Constructors are mainly responsible for patterns, lay plans, and communicating with customers. However, they help where they need including cutting, sewing, and packing.
What does a normal day of a seamstress look like?
The ladies start their workday relaxed with a cup of coffee before heading to sew or to finish a task from the day before. The seamstresses explain that the days vary a lot depending on the models being in production. Every day, they switch between different sewing machines and tasks. Sewing items, which have been in production for a longer time, is the easiest and most automatic task. New models require a lot of creative thinking at first, to achieve the best results and quality.
How is the salary determined?
The constructor and packer have a fixed monthly salary.
The salary of all seamstresses, cutter, and the ironing lady depends on how many pieces they have sewn, cut or ironed and it varies monthly. This type of price rate is a common way to determine salary in Estonian manufacturing companies. The price rate per item depends on the difficulty of an item, and the seamstresses get an extra share for items that are more time-consuming or have more details such as zippers.
How many items do you make per day?
The quantity differs daily depending on what is currently in production. Some fabrics are very difficult to work with, and some models are more complex than others. When the seamstresses learn to sew new models, it takes more time to finish the products in comparison to older models, which production goes quickly and smoothly. All in all, quality is always more important than speed.
Do you belong to a trade union? Is it common in Estonia?
None of the employees belong to a trade union and there isn’t a union for their special field.
What do you do for the wellbeing at the working place?
It is important to get along well with co-workers so the atmosphere in the workplace is comfortable.
What do you like the best at your job?
That it is diverse and creative. Models change from time to time so there's no need to do only one kind of task day after day.
We hope enjoyed this content and feel more confident wearing your Népra activewear. Write us your thoughts on the comment box below, reach out on Social Media, or drop us a mail. Share this article with your friend who should know about the ladies behind his/her activewear.
Ama & Essi