Hammam towels have been traditionally made for centuries
Zuiderwoude – The sisters Martine (48) and Petra Siebelink (51) have been running the ZusenZomer webshop since 2010. From here they sell hammam towels that are traditionally prepared deep in the mountains of Turkey and the interior of Tunisia. ‘Fairtrade is our number 1 priority.’ Martine and Petra Siebelink, born in Velzen and raised in Koog aan de Zaan, established the company ZusenZomer in Zuiderwoude in 2010. Martine has been living in the village that is part of the municipality of Waterland for twelve years now. "It has always been a dream to live in Waterland and it has come true." Before the sisters started the webshop, where they sell their own collection of hammam towels, hammam bathrobes and beach bags, among other things, they had already earned their spurs in business.
, So we were well prepared. The nice thing is that we first went in a completely different direction and now we have come together again. Our areas of expertise complement each other perfectly. Martine does the operational part - purchasing and customer contacts - and I am more concerned with the website. I always joke that she (Petra, ed.) is the gas and I am the brake. She has big plans every day and I sometimes have to temper that a bit.” Traditional “We used to have a company (web shop, ed.) in luxury bed, bath and table linen. There I came into contact with hammam towels. I immediately thought it was a fantastic product. It is the oldest towel in the world and comes from countries with a real hammam culture such as Turkey and Tunisia. It's incredibly practical. Instead of having to take those thick towels with you on holiday, grab a thin and lightweight bath towel. They dry very well, dry quickly, are easy to wash, no sand is left in them and you can also use them as a wrap.
It is a product with many advantages, but also very beautiful.” Interest is aroused and together the Siebelink sisters decide to open an online store. ,Once we started, we knew we wanted to fight for fair trade.
The big companies sell hammam towels that are made in India and China, but we'll take care of that. We opt for real hammam towels that are made in Turkey and Tunisia, where the towels originate. We work together with small-scale weaving mills and regularly visit the countries so that we can keep close ties and have a good overview of the quality.”
Relations with and in Turkey are being strained by the Erdogan regime. It has never been a reason for ZusenZomer to stop trading with the local entrepreneurs. “These are small mountain villages where there is nothing else. If we leave there, we will take away the income and the raison d'être of at least four hard-working families. Purely because on a political level things go completely wrong. Things that people themselves don't even support and sometimes don't even know about. That is not an option for us. We offer the weavers a fair price and guarantee an annual purchase. In this way we maintain this age-old craft.”