Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

*ducks* Yes we’re talking about Christmas. But only the post

Hard as it may be to believe it, the first last post collection has almost gone for Christmas 2014!

The last ‘International Economy – what we used to call Surface Mail – to Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Central and South America, New Zealand goes today. The last to the Far and Middle East is tomorrow.

As a mail order business, we’ll be sharing the last dates as they approach but for now we’re putting Christmas to the back of our minds, seeking out the last few days of sunshine and enjoying autumn!

 

 

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YOU can help us win £10k! Just CLICK!

Oh it’s been hard keeping this secret but I am delighted and proud to finally tell you today that I am one of five finalists shortlisted in something called SEYA* – and the prize of £10,000 will be won BY PUBLIC VOTE

The page to vote should be here or very near here I wrote this before I went on holidays and the page was announced while I was away. I’ll update as soon as I can!

PLEASE CLICK, VOTE AND HELP US WIN!  

The £10,000 has to be spent in six months and I know EXACTLY what we’d spend it on.

  1. We’d turn Catherine *taps with a magic wand* into a full time worker not a part time one so there would ALWAYS be someone here to answer the phone and help you and generally make things work brilliantly. (she is 100% made of awesome. One thing she is brilliant at is seeing things that we do that take a long time and finding ways to make them quicker. She oversaw the entire process of us getting your order paperwork printed automatically instead of manually saying us easily ten hours of work a week. Her next target is production admin and paperwork ).
  2. We’d provide a total of three extra shifts of work a week to our existing team, in packing – moving them up and along inside the business, to learn more about how we do what we do
  3. We’d pay for extra training visits from our trainer. There is almost no lingerie expertise in the South and our trainer lives MILES away up north so getting her here is a big expense and she can’t just drop in if we have a questions. Our team were novices when they started here with us and still have things to learn. It helps the team SO MUCH and every time she comes, they leap just forward.

Every single click will count. Please vote for us and ask your friends, neighbours and anyone else you can think of. This £10k would make a HUGE difference to our work and we think would allow us to make new jobs faster.

PLEASE HELP US WIN! It would make SUCH a difference!

 

*To give SEYA it’s full name, it is the *deep breath* Lloyds  Social Entrepreneurs programme Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Phew!

 

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Small business is small

TL/DR – We’re going to be short-staffed for a week/would you like to invest to make us bigger and have more staff?

I’ve talked here before about how tiny we are.

I’m saying the same things again as, by the magic of technology, I’ve written this ahead, and when this gets published, I will be on leave for a week, until the 12 September.

That means no full time body in the office until Monday 15th. Catherine will be here every morning as usual, and Gill will be here for the three part days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – but that means we will be shut on Monday and Friday afternoons. There will be no-one here then for local collection of pants, and there will be no-one answering the phone or emails at those times. It also means that enquiries will pile up and we might take a while to get back to you. We will though – and we thank you in advance for bearing with us.

Remember – contact us by phone or email for the best and fastest reposnses

But there’s something else about this too.

Social businesses are started, and run, for love, not money. And lots of them end up making good money – TOMS Shoes is currently valued at a huge £377m. But at the start, which we still are in a lot of ways, earned money has to be supplemented with grants to get going. We started by teaching English, then sewing, then employability. Before we’d made a single pair of pants, we’d spent thousands and thousands of pounds, and months and months of work, on training.

We’re still partly grant funded, even though our sales, thanks to you, have come a long way. But there’s still a gap. And when you consider what we want to do – not just what we are doing – the gap gets bigger.

We have a waiting list of 75 women who want jobs.

Our orders have doubled.

Our factory team has doubled.

Our office staffing has not.

We need money to grow.

We want Catherine here full time so there is always someone to answer your calls. We want packers, dedicated to packing pants, to broaden our teams experience here and introduce them to the office side of things.

We’ve received some private investment. And we’re in the process of asking for more. Our very first investor was a supporter, someone who was in a place in her life where she wanted to help organisations she believed in and had the capacity to make that happen. We’re wondering – are there more people like her out there?

If this sounds like something you’re interested in knowing more about please drop us a line – we’d love to talk.

We *will* grow. And we *will* get bigger one way or another. We’re determined to. And in the meantime, thanks. thanks for bearing with us through the growing pains.

 

 

 

 

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Time for tea?

Have a tea break, on us!

We’ve partnered with our friends teapigs and every box we send out in September will contain a sample of their delicious everyday brew.

Our Year of Pants members will also be getting a Darjeeling sample.

teapigs have been part of the pants story for a while and so we’re delighted to be able to work with them. Becky first met met Nick from teapigs at the Do Lectures, an inspirational series of talks, in 2008. Tickets now cost £1500 but that year, they asked for handwritten letters explaining why you were a ‘do-er’ and what you were doing. Becky was just starting to ‘do’ pants and excitedly wrote her letter in purple ink at 1am, and was delighted to be picked to go.

teapigs is a few years older than us and Nick generously gave his time and expertise on our website, ecommerce, picking, packing – and took Becky out for a very nice sandwich in Ealing, just a minute away from the Ealing Studios.

We really hope you enjoy the tea and if you do you can bag yourself a bargain – use code pants at teapigs online store all through September to get 10% off (small print – excludes cheeky deals, pick n mix, subscribe and save and matcha kits.

 

Shop here with us and we’ll do the rest!

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T minus 20 days

We’re smiling in the office today.

This time in three weeks our factory team will be back with us. Zuhra will be a married woman and we’re looking forward to photos and stories of her wedding. And we’re looking forward to our boisterous lunchtimes. It’s really not the same without ten people bustling around making tea and heating rice and getting jars of honey stuck to the table.

We’ve been incredibly busy while they’ve been away though. We’re still very much a tiny organisation – just me full time in the office, Catherine half time in the office, and volunteer Gill doing three part days. Between us, we pick, pack and post your orders, answer the phone and your emails, load our website up, plan new pants, order fabrics, go and visit other factories, order threads and bows and check lightbulbs and make sure the rain hasn’t leaked in (again) and write blog posts and newsletters and name pants and manage money and apply for investment and grants and pay the bills and the wages and order post it notes and paper and work out what the best way to make patterns is and a million other things that you’d never think of.

As well as all of that day to day stuff which keeps us busy, we’ve spent a LOT of time this summer working out ways of making things run more smoothly here when our wonderful colleagues are back. Small organisations like us are often caught in rock and hard place situations. You’re too busy to make a big change that would make you less busy. We’ve done one of these this summer – we’ve introduced a new order management system which generates all the order paperwork at the touch of a button AND prints out address labels. All of that used to be done manually – thirty orders could take five hours to process. On Tuesday, we processed 83 orders in four hours. This is a HUGE, huge shift and means Catherine is more free to do other things (like leave work on time more often, we hope)

And there’s more. From changing the layout of the machines to make the work flow more smoothly to designing new paperwork to make applying for holiday clearer, and up to working out what whiteboards in different part of the factory need to say so that everyone has all the info they need – and a little bit more too, just to stretch the brain – we’ve taken the opportunity to work out how we can make pants faster. Because if we make more pants in the same amount of time, that means each pair of pants makes more profit. And that means that the 75 women on our waiting list might start getting phone calls asking if they’d like a job.

We’re smiling in the office today.

This time in three weeks our factory team will be back with us. We’re looking forward to working faster with them, to making jobs for their friends.

And we’re looking forward to showing them the emails and photos you’ve sent us while they’re been away. ‘We’ is all of us. The factory team. The office team. And the supporters team – you. We – together – are doing this wonderful thing. Thank you.

 

We’re smiling in the office today.

 

 

 

 

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25% off all pants and packs this weekend!

As some of you (patient people) know, we have had an incessant gremlin in our webshop which has taken great delight in selling things we’ve sold out of and marking as sold out things we have lots of.

Le sigh.

Well, you may remember that a few weeks ago we pushed a big red button on a new service to fix this. Technology being what technology is, that became a dry run rather than the real thing but this weekend we are GO.

We’ve actually already flicked the switch and if all is well you should notice NOTHING AT ALL but as a thank you and (hopefully not) sorry in case of problems – and as it’s feeling very back-to-school here as get ready for out team to rejoin us – this weekend there is a chunky 25% off ALL pants AND packs.

Shop the offer here until 23.59 on Bank Holiday Monday and THANK YOU for bearing with us through this upgrade!

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More than just being sexy

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been talking with you about finding ways to take pictures of women in pants that aren’t sexualised or objectifying. We think there’s more to women than just being sexy (as wonderful and fun as that part of womanhood is, it’s not the whole of our lives and we – and you – do tend to wear pants when we’re just *being*) and we genuinely think that every day can be a great pants day without it having to mean anything more than that.

Lingerie blogger Denocte agrees…
 
‘I hate that lingerie is always advertised as having to be sexy of course for the male partner. because how dare a woman wear something comfy, pretty, etc for herself, right? outrageous!’

You’ve asked us for images so that you can see where our pants sit on bodies. We came up with one idea: superheroes! And we had great fun with our friend Roz – a writer, student, spinal surgery survivor and model. She leapt around London and was a great example of how comfortable our pants are for high kicks and quick changes in phone boxes. Photographer Flo has worked with Roz for ages and you can see how much fun they had – Check out our images here - we love them!

You’ve also given us some great ideas – thank you! We’ve had suggestions (and offers to make these happen!) of…

  • ‘…me at my legs bums and tums class wearing pants over my leggings’
  • ‘…reading the economist on the loo with your pants just visible’
  • ‘…leggings then your knickers and a woman doing sports – weightlifting!’
  • women creating artworks
  • women studying in a library

We’ve had some more detailed suggestions..

‘You could have pictures of various shapes, sizes of (real, not model) women (not necessarily showing their faces doing all those things – then the same women in WMYP pants – cool, calm, happy and confident that their pants won’t let them down

We’ve also had some great pictures shared with us of women doing brilliant things in our pants – climbing Snowdon and skydiving

So – what next?

Well, these are all wonderful things, but we know that not everyone feels like a superhero – and even those who do don’t feel like one all of the time. We also know that not everyone can (and not everyone wants to) jump out of planes or leap about in a superhero outfit – we’ve had a lovely review from Meme on our website saying…

‘Comfort in a pair of pants comes first and foremost for me, not only as I’m in a wheelchair most of the time, but also as clothes can cause pain at times, wearing something that doesn’t cut in was paramount. I can safely say that these pants fit my brief!’

So we know that great pants are important for all kinds of reasons.

We know you – we – are more than one thing. So who else are you – and how can we show that? You’ve asked us for images so you can see where the pants actually sit on real bodies – tell us, how can we show this in a really positive way? We KNOW you have ideas so please – please – do tell us about them!

Share your ideas with us from today until the 4th September – use hashtag #morethansexy on twitter, tell us on facebook or email us. The team will pick their favourite and we’ll shoot it in October.

We’re so looking forward to hearing your ideas!

twitter @whomadeyour

facebook /whomadeyourpants

hello at whomadeyourpants dot co dot uk

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Woop! Becky is shortlisted for an award!

Wahay! Are we excited today!

I am delighted – and proud, and a bit surprised – to announce that I have been shortlisted for an award! It’s the Social Enterprise UK award ‘for Women’s Champion’. What an honour! Thanks a million to Lepsa Stojkovic for the nomination.

There is a long wait until the result is out – the winner will be revealed at the Awards ceremony on Wednesday 26th November at LSO St Luke’s, London hosted by comedienne and television presenter Sue Perkins.

What a lovely piece of news!

 

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Who’s that girl?

The eagle eyed among you will have notice the names Rosalind Jana and Florence Fox popping up across our social media and blogs regularly recently.

Well we’re delighted to tell you that we’re working together on our ‘More Than Sexy’ campaign (watch out on Wednesday!) and that Rosalind and Florence are now our official ‘go to’ team for all things photography. We thought about saying that Rosalind was ‘the face of’ Who Made Your Pants? but it just sounded odd. So we’re not.

Rosalind is a writer, model, student, spinal surgery survivor, winner of the Observer Ethical Awards ‘Best Dressed’ in 2013 and junior editor of Violet magazine. She says,

‘Working with WMYP brings together two things I love – ethics, and really nice pants. Getting to play the superhero by prancing around in knickers and shiny leggings on a busy London street was a lot of fun, made all the better by knowing that the gorgeous underthings I had on help to provide jobs and support for refugee women’

Florence is her friend, and is herself an award winning photographer (yes that’s Rosalind in the picture!). Her wedding shots are just delicious but we loved the spark we saw in Rosalind in the shots they’ve done together. We think Who Made Your Pants? superpoweredjobcreatingpants are about happiness and fun and all of those things come through in the photos Florence has taken of Rosalind. There’s also something intimate and honest that can only come from having fun with an old friend – and were thrilled to be able to bring that connection into our photography. 

We’re so proud to be working with two such amazing women – we hope you’ll join us in looking forward to seeing more of their work very soon

 

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Parties in parks

The school holidays have started here in the UK and we’re thinking of long hot days and endless weeks off school – remember that feeling? *sigh*

I’m celebrating my birthday this weekend (early – I had an aged aunt who stretched out her birthday by opening presents every day in the run up and wind down, which I’ve always thought was A Good Idea) and while I can’t invite you all along, and we can’t take you back to childhood summers, we can give you a summer treat and so for one weekend only there’s 10% off all things seaside and playful.

Our weekend treat includes SeaShell MaBelle and Checkmate to name but two, and few pants packs as well so check it out here.

Ends at 23.59 on Sunday the 3rd – happy weekend!

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