In a pandemic, job losses impact families especially those of lower income levels. How can we support those in need, particularly mothers who need a source of income when the breadwinners lose their jobs? We speak to Mori, a Social Enterprise based in Singapore to find out more.
Mori was founded by a pair of best friends, Rachel and Miranda, and its mission is to change the world beginning from home. Mori’s functional lifestyle products are handmade by urban poor mothers who need such economic opportunities to care for their children at home.
Rachel and Miranda’s belief is to change the world starting from the home, by encouraging parent-child bonding time and raising healthy kids. These beliefs have inspired them with products for both parent and child.
Read the interview below and be inspired by their desire to multiply their social impact.
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Interview with Mori’s Founders
Tell us why Mori focuses on products for mums and children.
Rachel: Mori has always had a strong emphasis on mothers and children as one of our main missions is to provide sustainable livelihoods for mothers to be able to take care of their children while they work, despite their economic backgrounds. Prior to late 2020, I had some discussions with Mitzi (who works directly with Mori mothers in The Philippines) regarding kids’ products but we never really did go into it as both of us were not mothers yet and needed time to research into the market. The products we had focused on were more for every lady’s use, not specific to a particular segment like mummies, as we also wanted to stabilise our demand to ensure Mori moms had sustainability in handmaking the items we create.
Then in 2020, my long-time close friend Miranda was slated to return to Singapore from overseas and we started chatting online. She was giving feedback that some of the items such as our signature creation Pursebook (a blend of purse + notebooks) may not be a necessity for mummies like her anymore, as their lives have progressed to focus more on family and children. It also struck her that the Pursebook concept would be very useful for kids to use to put stationery in the “pencil case” compartment and doodle on the go. We started getting excited and explored the possibility of extending Mori’s items for both mummies and kids.
Miranda: Two years ago, I started homeschooling my two boys while I was overseas. During those two years, I had grown to like teaching my kids and strove to make learning fun and effective for them. When I came back from overseas, due to Covid-19, I was unable to find my ideal job and I was depressed. Companies I had gone for interviews at often asked me about my childcare arrangements and also asked if I could commit overtime work. My conversation with Rachel continued on the side about Mori Mummy and Kids items. I slowly gained hope again when our conversations and ideas generation began to concretise. I was excited to join Mori’s mission of bringing joy to kids and parents while creating more income for mummies in the Philippines.
The mothers that we work with in the Philippines have had minimal skills in sewing previously. They used to be paid peso 100 (US$2) a day to sew rags that didn’t require straight stitching. With Mori, they earn peso 400-600 (US$9-12) a day.
Ate Remy, Mori’s mother crafter who has been with us since the beginning used to sew rags for a living, but with her grit and diligence working at Mori, she raised her children all the way to college, something most around would not believe is possible.
Ate Remy: “I really want my children to be educated. With education, there is a chance to change their lives, to be successful. I want to see them having a more comfortable life, to be able to provide for all their needs that they were not able to experience when they were young. With Mori, I am able to learn to create things that I thought I couldn’t do. Sometimes when the Mori product is challenging to make, I cannot sleep because I keep on thinking of how to do it. It is really fun to learn. I also get to go to different places and meet people. Like the Batasan mothers- they are very special to me. They are very genuine people.”
The Pandemic has been especially tough on countries like the Philippines, how are they coping and how can we help?
Last year when the pandemic hit, Manila where our Mori moms are based, went into lockdown. Mori moms started assembling face shields for frontliners in the Philippines. This opportunity gave more Mori moms jobs during the lockdown period, an answered prayer. Subsequently, they started making reusable fabric face masks with the available leftover fabric, as fabric shops were closed. Demand for the reusable masks and hence, jobs increased with support from Mori’s customers, retail partners and corporates!
In addition, almost all of the students in the Philippines were forced to take online classes at home. Laptops are expensive for Mori moms’ families to afford, typically considered as a luxury item. Students whose families couldn’t afford them would use a mobile phone, making it unconducive for learning. Mori mothers like Ate Remy and Ate Lisa saw how their children/grandchildren were affected. We pulled together a fundraising campaign to sponsor them with laptops. More info here.
We provide updates to our Mori community through our social media, blog posts and EDMs on a regular basis on updates on our Mori moms and launch campaigns like fundraising when needed to support our Mori moms. You may follow us to see how you can join us in supporting them. Every purchase of Mori’s item handmade by Mori moms provides direct income to them amid this pandemic.
What can you advise mums keen to make a difference like yourselves?
Rachel: At Mori, we believe that it takes a community of people to create impact, so we can all start in small ways as we connect to others. As a social enterprise, we envision providing a platform to empower women across all walks of life – urban poor mothers, artists, crafters, sales advocates, and even customers to create value together.
Therefore, we have partnered with ladies from all walks of lives including Soek Ying, a mother of a special needs son Ryan this year’s Mother’s Day. Soek Ying runs MustardTree Singapore and Mori partnered them to create dried flowers encouragement cards made by special needs youths, and paired it with Mori’s small vegan leather pouch.
One of our favourite sayings is, “There are those who sustain us, and with their love we sustain others. Not that one is greater than the other, but that Love empowers us to love others”.
Miranda: Believe in yourself and work towards where your passion is. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. It is not easy to be a social entrepreneur, but you will be blessed with love from people along the way who believe in you! Women, mummies who want to be part of this, we would love to connect and share the journey with you!
Tell us about your favourite family activities on a Little Day Out.
Miranda: Our favourite family activity will be to have a picnic at a park or at the beach where we can sit, doodle, eat and play around as a family while maintaining safe distancing from others. One of our favourite parks will be Changi Beach Park where we get to see the aeroplanes flying past too. It’s awesome for kids who love aeroplanes.
Thank you Mori Mums for speaking to us. It is indeed a trying time for many and we can do our part to support one another.