OUR PEOPLE, OUR STORY
You may have seen a few familiar faces from our store popping up on your social media recently.
Well, so much about who we are and what we do is connected to the place we live and the people who have been a part of our family. We want you to get to know the individuals who make up that family. They have their own stories which we think provides the foundation for the store’s own bigger storytelling experience.
For example, what you may not know, is that many of our new ideas and initiatives – such as our move towards a more sustainable and fair future at the store – is motivated by the values of the people who work here. Our people put their hand up and opted for a paperless office; our people also pushed for better, more effective measures for recycling.
Our personal values should be reflected in the day-to-day operations of the store, and so that’s why many of the brands we stock now are carefully vetted by us personally to ensure that these companies are being friendly to their staff and to their environment.
On that note, we would like to say: thank you. Because we believe that our people are the greatest and best resource we have.
We know them well enough. And so should you…
INTRODUCING: SARAH, Floor Manager, Homewares
“We’ve been really careful with what we’re choosing when we talk to our suppliers; like where it’s come from… ‘Where are your factories? How have the workers been looked after? ‘That’s important to us, we treat our own people with respect and so should the companies we want to work with. You want to make sure that the company’s people are treated fairly and that their practices are sustainable.”
INTRODUCING: KIM, Men’s Tailoring.
“…I guess my dad had a hugely positive influence on me, he had good values, and he was a local Māori elder from South Westland. A lot of people looked up to him, and I suppose… Well, he was a real… You know? And I don’t think I learned that until he passed on. You appreciate those kinds of things later on.
“I started out in womenswear at Thomas’s, then moved to menswear and absolutely fell in love with the tailoring side of things. I love the customers that come in here. So, and it’s always nice. I actually enjoy more so the ones that are challenged to find something, it’s always rewarding to find them something.”
INTRODUCING: JEMMA, Sales Consultant – Homewares
“I moved to Marlborough to become a winemaker, and that is my background. I was a single parent for 6 years, just doing my thing. And ask any single parent – it’s not easy.
“I love working here at Thomas’s. It’s like a family here. We’ve got a great team and I love the merchandising, and styling the store.”
“But I mean I don’t think people realise that there is a sustainability focus here. With all of the rugs for example that we’d get, they’ve all got the no child labour sticker. Our buyers make sure our suppliers are giving back to
the communities in India.”
“And so for us, everything that we’re trying to source does have a story behind it. And
when you sell something, it’s kind of cool to have the storytelling experience to go along with the item you are buying.”
INTRODUCING: TIM, Owner / Operator
“Some of our current staff have been with us for 25 or 35 years. Which is amazing. I used to come in when I was still at high school, and empty the rubbish bins and refill the bags, take the rubbish out, and I used to get $20 a week.
“So some of the staff actually grew up with us, and so we’ve been here a long time too. It’s funny… I guess some of the staff have seen us go from emptying the rubbish bins to now running the store. You can’t really say that about a lot of stores.
“Well obviously, it was a big part of our life, Dad would spend a lot of time here, and we grew up coming to work, and Mum used to work here as well… And of course our grandparents were here as well. So it almost became like another home.
“But our dad Michael was careful not to force the business on us. We didn’t have to take it over. He always said he only wanted us to do it for genuine reasons: “We only want you to come into the business if you think it’s the right thing for you.” He would say. And that was kinda testament to the person he is.
“And that’s how we feel about our own staff – we want them to enjoy being here and feel passionate about what they do.”
INTRODUCING: ALISSA, Sales Consultant and Buyer.
“Growing up I looked up to my grandad a lot, he was a really hard working guy. He drove a truck and I wanted to be like him. Ya know, I wanted to be a truck driver, and drive a pink and purple truck around – a big pink and purple stock truck… Haha. But that’s just me. I love the job I have now because I love the people that come into Thomas’s. You get to learn about them, who they are… and they actually become your friends rather than just a customer.”
INTRODUCING: Te Ao Rere, Barista, Café
“My name means free spirit in Māori. That’s from my mum’s side. I love working at Thomas’s but eventually I want to go to uni and study psychology. I really want to work with kids when I am older. But you find psychology in everything. Especially working here at the cafe. It’s a people business, and the field is all about behaviour, ya know.
“I think my younger sister has had a really positive influence on me. Because
I’ve kind of helped raise her and because of that she’s also taught me a lot. Yeah. Well, I mean, it sounds really weird, but my dad has worked overseas the majority of our lives. So yeah, it’s kind of been me and my mum with my two little siblings.”
INTRODUCING: CALEB, Sales Consultant – JETZ
“I know that people my age tend to move away from Marlborough… but… Hmm. I don’t know. I really enjoy it here.
“Thomas’s and JETZ has been a great environment for me to work in. It’s pretty much like a big family.
“Plus, people are asking more and more about how their clothes are made nowadays, and we try and only source clothing made from natural fibres – like cotton and linen. I talk about that a lot. Like the linen shirts are a good example. And there’s a new brand we’ve got that uses hemp, which is good because it’s even more sustainable than cotton, using less water and chemicals and stuff, which is good.”
“It goes with my own personal philosophy as well, and nowadays I don’t wear clothes with plastic in them.. Just natural fibres like 100% cotton.”
INTRODUCING: HANNA, Sales Consultant, JETZ
I am originally from small town in Western Sweden called Borås. My partner is a kiwi guy and I decided to make the move here to Marlborough to be with him a year and a half ago.
I love Marlborough. People here are very, like everyone knows everyone and that’s what I know from growing up as well, living in a small town. Everyone says hi to everyone and everyone’s friendly and smiley, and yeah, I like that a lot, more than a big city where everyone’s stressed and a bit, you know?
“I like working here at JETZ – we keep a good positive vibes going throughout the day. I
think most of the brands that we have are starting to work towards becoming more environmentally friendly as well. Some of them even have a zero waste policy.”
INTRODUCING: ROBYN, Fashion Consultant – Womenswear
“I have been at Thomas’s now for 35 years. We get the same regulars we had when I first started this job coming in still. But since this has become a wine region, there are far more travellers and tourists visiting the store now. Which has been the biggest change, I think.
“Back in those days – it was very strict. There were a lot of rules and formalities. Nowadays it’s much more relaxed and looser, I think.
“One thing I have seen is that everything is wrapped in too much plastic nowadays. Too much! We didn’t have that back in the days. That needs to change.
“But Marlborough is a great place to grow up. Of course, I love the weather here. And my husband is delightful.”
INTRODUCING: LOTTIE, Café Operator
“I think one of our former staff members influenced me in my confidence a lot. When I first started at Thomas’s a couple of years ago, I was around in menswear, and she really took me under her wing and made me feel a lot more secure in who I am, which was really nice. Something that someone hadn’t really done for me before, which was very cool.
“In hospitality, we have such short time, maybe three minutes with our customers, in between serving them and giving them their coffee. So if you’re doing it with a smile and a bit of enthusiasm, it can make a difference to someone’s day.”
INTRODUCING: YVETTE, Office Manager
“At Thomas’s they’ve have moved to an entirely paperless office. For example, we used to post out all our statements, now we email them. Things like that. We recycle all the cardboard from our deliveries and have moved in a completely sustainable direction.
“I’ve learned in life that you got to stand up for yourself, because no one else will. But my grandmother was a hugely positive influence on me growing up. My mum died when she was very young, but my grandma taught me cooking and sewing and you know, doing all the girly stuff.
She was a really lovely lady. She would always say : ‘You have just got to try as hard as you can. Make the most out of life. Be happy with what you do.’ She had a hard life, as they do growing up in the, you know, 20s, 30s.”
INTRODUCING: HAMISH, Owner / Operator
“When we partner with other brands, and as a buyer we always ask two key questions: What are they doing for the planet? And how do they treat their staff? Personally, I cannot expect our customers to believe in the brands we stock if I don’t believe in them myself. That’s key to the direction we want to take the business – and we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: what are our values? Are we doing enough to change things for the better.”
“But I think… as an owner sometimes the best thing you can do is just to be quiet and listen to what people have to say. You gain trust and respect by listening not talking. We are tight knit family business, and the staff are so important to us. You do become close to them. You become their mentors, you become their career advisor you. I like seeing people succeed outside of the walls of Thomas’s.”
INTRODUCING: FRANCES, Assistant Manager -Fashion Department.
“I have been at Thomas’s for 19 years. I started out at the Picton store part time and was there for around two years before moving into Blenheim.
You have incredible relationships with some of the people you deal with, and it’s really satisfying if you’ve got a customer who’s really comfortable coming to you. Sometimes they might have challenges with weight or skin issues or something and they come to you, they look out for you because they know that they’ll be treated in a sensitive way. And it’s really rewarding to see.
“Sometimes you get a woman who’s like a size 16, and quite often these women have got beautiful figures, you know, beautiful hourglass figures. And it’s so nice to be able to put them in something shows their real beauty.”
Big massive thanks to David James Photography for taking on the project of chronicling our history and culture. Expect more on the story of Thomas’s Marlborough – COMING SOON.