Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Help us help Ovarian Cancer Action

Starting tomorrow, and all, weekend we are raising funds for Ovarian Cancer Action. It’s easy – buy any pair of pants, or a pack, and select ‘Pants Donation £2.50′ or ‘Pack Donation £5′  We’ll then match your donation* and send the cash to Ovarian Cancer Action. Every single pound will help

Ovarian Cancer Action fund research at their Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.  They are committed to reducing the number of women who die from the disease and they also raise awareness of the symptoms. have a

Ovarian cancer is the UK’s biggest gynaecological killer and yet less than 10% of women in the UK know the signs and symptoms. You can help us to promote earlier diagnosis, giving women the best chances of survival – remember these symptoms and tell your friends and family.

This short video explains some of the the primary signs and symptoms for ovarian cancer which are:

  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Persistent bloating
  • Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to wee more often

Other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Back pain
  • Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Feeling tired all the time

If you’re regularly experiencing these symptoms on most days it’s important to talk to your GP as soon as possible.

You can direct people to our awareness film here:

*We will cap our match donations at £2.50 per pair of pants and £5 per pack. Donations over those amounts will be matched to those amounts.

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What are our packaging materials made from?

tl;dr We buy everything recycled  and UK made that we can – all our paper packaging materials have a majority of recycled content and are biodegradable

We love reclaiming fabrics to make our Pants from and so it makes sense to us that we use reclaimed/recycled materials to post them to you.

Our Pants look nice and feel nice and we want every part of receiving them in the post to be nice too. We’re not got a shop for you to come and meet them in so we need to make that moment when you open them lovely for you.

The boxes we post your Pants out in are – we think – about as beautiful as a cardboard box can be.

They’re also made from over 90% recycled material, right here in the UK. When we were looking for a box supplier in the beginning, we were really surprised to find that it’s almost impossible to get a 100% recycled box so we settled for 90%+ knowing that the boxes we chose were strong enough to reuse as drawer organisers/building blocks for forts (we’ve been sent pictures) after they’ve been through the post. They come to us flatpacked and we make them up here. We like these a lot.

The paper tape we seal the boxes with is 100% new content and made in the UK. We’re testing recycled tape right now. We’re happy with the strength here and are testing a few boxes in the post. The main function of the tape is to be secure so if you’ve ordered recently look out for a note in your parcel and if yours has one saying it’s used recycled tape please tweet/FB us a pic of how your parcel arrived. Work in progress.

Our tissue paper is mostly recycled but not 100%. The actual percentage varies depending on the colour, but is a minimum of 60% recycled content. This is made in the USA – we would *love* to find a UK manufacturer of recycled (nice looking and feeling) tissue paper in a variety of colours. We’ve looked online and at trade fairs and not found one – if you know of one please tell us in the comments!

The little logo labels we seal your parcels with and the address labels we put onto the boxes are sometimes recycled and sometimes not.. We buy labels from a green supplies company and they’re little and sometimes don’t have what we need. And sometimes we get a local printer to rpint them for us and it depends what we have. We’re working on finding an all the time solution.

The ribbons we use to seal gift wrapped parcels are currently from a variety of places – floristry suppliers,  a local shop, a UK manufacturer.  We only really need quite small quantities at the moment and the minimum we’d need to order from a wholesaler is often beyond us. We’re working towards building a relationship with a manufacturer soon and we’re hopeful that can be a UK one.

Our boxes, tissue paper, tape, packing slips and labels are biodegradeable, compostable, great for building things out of or storing treasures in. And we love this from Liz – who upcycled some of the ribbon on one of her pants parcels

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What does ‘fashion’ mean to you?

Is it just ‘clothes’ or is it something with seasons, that changes? Are there rules you need to follow? What does that mean if you love a bootleg when skinny is in? Do you care? Mind? Notice? Do you get excited about what’s coming next, look back at old pictures wondering why the hell you wore *that* or do you wear the same kinds of things over and over? We’d love to know – please tell us!*

We’re musing on this at the moment. Musing, too, over the idea that it so often seems that there’s a view that what we wear is *for* someone else. I remember some man telling me – telling me – that I must have wanted men to look at my breasts as I was wearing a vest top. Now I’ve been above a C cup since I was 14 and there’s nothing I can do about that – I don’t decide what size boobs to wear in the morning when I choose my Pants. And there wasn’t a bit of me thinking about him or any other man when I got dressed that day. It was summer. I was hot. Vest top. Simple. Do you think about other people when you’re getting dressed? It’s interesting stuff, this.

We wear all kinds of clothes here. Catherine used to run a vintage shop and so has a wardrobe bursting with everything from Roxane Gay’s ‘Bad Feminist’ T shirt to designer labels and she loves and revels in putting outfits together. I’ve been wearing black since I was 14, and almost everything I own is rescued from a charity shop and worn with DM boots or DM shoes and is loved, loved loved – I don’t have many things but the things I have I wear time and again. Our colleagues wear all kinds of colours, and a mix of traditional and western clothes.  We’ve also learned about traditions whereby after marriage, in some cultures, the bride is bought an entirely new wardrobe by her in laws. Those clothes really mean something.

The people we notice in the street are the ones with their own style, not the ones that look like they’ve walked out of a shop window. Is this the difference between fashion and style? Who knows. But what we do know is that fast fashion is a thing and that there are people for whom it is important to buy now, wear today, replace tomorrow.  I know the ‘buy fewer better things’ idea isn’t accessible to everyone- Terry Pratchett puts it beautifully, ‘

“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

Either which way, there’s another end to fashion. In just over a month, it will be two years since Rana Plaza, an eight storey building, collapsed claiming over 1100 lives and injuring over 2500 more people. Clothes were being made in that building for brands including (among others) Benetton, Bonmarché, Monsoon Accessorize, Mango, Matalan, Primark, and Walmart.

The building had been extended without permits, made taller. It had generators on high floors in case of power cuts. It was also being used for manufacturing when it had been designed as office and residential. Even in our tiny factory, sewing machines make a heck of a lot of vibration. Imagine what the vibration of one, two, three thousand machines would do to hastily built walls. It’s terrifying.

None of us here think that we should wear sackcloth and guilt. We are allowed to love clothes, and we are allowed to love different ones on different days. We’re allowed to want to express ourselves through our clothes and we’re also allowed to just wear clothes because we like them and it not be a statement to anyone else.

What do you think about this? We’ll be talking about this in the month leading up to the Rana Plaza anniversary and we’d genuinely love to know what you think. *

 

*Please note that this blog was written in the past and scheduled to is go live while I am on holiday so any comments will be answered when I’m back. Much obliged!

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So what’s a Social Enterprise then?

At the WOW Festival over the weekend, I must have said the following words 500 times.

Who Made Your Pants? is a social business. We exist specifically to create jobs for women who are refugees. We do that by turning perfect fabrics left over from big underwear factories into new pants in our tiny factory in Southampton. And we’re called Who Made Your Pants? so we tell you who made ours.

If you live in the social enterprise world, you might wonder why I talk about us as a social business and not a social enterprise.

If you don’t live in the social enterprise world – and there are bajillions more of you who don’t than who do – it’s my strong suspicion that right now you’re thinking, what the hell is a social enterprise and has it got anything to do with Captain Kirk.

First off, sorry, no it doesn’t. But to save any disappointment, here’s a picture of him anyway.

CapnKirk

And, incidentally, enterprise just means ‘a project, or undertaking, a business or a company’ according to Google.

The words ‘social enterprise’ have no legal meaning. They aren’t a badge or a stamp or a standard or a sign we’re in a club or gang. They don’t guarantee any standards, behaviour, codes of practice or anything. But what they tend to mean is ‘a business which trades for social good’. These businesses will measure their profits and losses like any other business – if you don’t know how much money you’ve got you’re going under, no matter how lovely your principles are – but they will also measure their impact on society, or the environment, or both. They will often be set up specifically to challenge or change something. We set up to create jobs for women, and we do that by making pants. We could be making tables to make this happen, the product doesn’t matter.

Pants to make Jobs

Some social enterprises, like us, are visible to you. Others – arguably the majority of them – are visible to ‘behind the scenes’ folks and are organisations which provide services or training like the wonderful Unthank Family Centre supporting families in Norfolk, or the Smart Schools Council which aims to help all young people to play an active, conscious, democratic role in their communities, or Bright Shadow – a fab theatre company on a mission is to enable people with dementia and those affected by it to live well and to thrive.

What we all have in common is that we see a problem that we want to address and we want to do that using trade. I love social enterprises.We might want our economy to be different but the world we live in today has us buying and selling and shopping and consuming and that isn’t going to change any time soon. So the idea what we can use that power – harness it and drive change with it – well. To me that’s a no brainer.

If you ever think about starting a business for social good do check out The School for Social Entrepreneurs (they are recruiting now for the Scale Up Programme which I was on last year. IT’S AMAZING)

And if you want to genuinely put your money where your beliefs are, check out some of our favourite social enterprises:

Elvis and Kresse for their LOVELY bags upcycled from firehoses

Divine Chocolate because YUM

Our stationery supplier The Green Stationery Company

and there are tons more in the Social Enterprise UK directory

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Why we don’t always tell you Who Made Your Pants?

We’re called Who Made Your Pants? because we tell you. It’s simple. We believe in transparency (though rarely transparent pants) and openness and being honest about what we do. We think that factories can be places where there’s fun as well as hard work and that business can be a great engine for social change. We’re not ashamed of anything that happens in our factory, we’re proud of our work and how we do it.  So far, so simple.

But sometimes it’s not simple.

The fact that I had an idea and I wanted to know who made my pants doesn’t mean that every single woman sitting at a sewing machine in our little factory wants her five minutes of fame. There are all kinds of reasons why people might want to use a pseudonym on our website – or just not be mentioned at all. I could tell you about the very real risks that can come with being named but the irony is that if I did, I’d put at risk the people we try to help stay safe.

Something that happens quite a lot is that we get asked for details of our team’s pay packets. Now – yes. Of course if you’re checking out whether a business is decent, that’s important information. But would you like it? If your boss told someone on twitter how much you earned?

We’ve talked about that here and what we will – and do – say in answer to that is that everyone here starts on minimum wage. If they complete probation successfully, they receive an increment to that. Every job role’s hourly rate is linked to that base level hourly rate. When minimum wage changes, everyone’s hourly rate changes.

More than that, and more than we have on our team page, we don’t and won’t say. Our team are real women with real complex lives. They’ve family all round the world and the internet can be read anywhere, by anyone, whether friend, curious stranger or foe.  We’ve all got our dignity and our personal information is personal and private.

So. We’re proud to tell you Who Made Your Pants? And we know you’ll understand why some things are for our eyes only.

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To our sisters

IWD2015

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Kittens!

Yes, really – The Lounge Kittens!

LOUNGE KITTENS 9676

We are delighted to announce that our Pants are off on tour TODAY with fabulous Southampton Trio The Lounge Kittens as they accompany Steel Panther on their UK and European tour.

The Lounge Kittens describe themselves as ‘rock chicks in disguise’ and they belt out a selection of popular rock and metal songs with their particular twist – three part harmony and the occasional purr. Their gigs are riotously good fun ‘I think I strained my grinning muscle’ said a friend at the Valentine’s gig in Southampton.

The Kittens love our Rosalind style and we couldn’t be prouder to have sponsored them – if ever there needs to be a good pants day, it’s when you’re on stage!

If you want a great night out do go and see them – and look out for our flyers, with space for autographs!

 

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WOW is here!

Just a quick reminder! If you’re at the WOW Festival in London this weekend do come and say hello!

We’ll be running a Let’s Talk About Pants workshop 12-1 on Saturday 7th in the Green Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall

If you have a WMYP Tshirt wear it, find us and claim FREE PANTS at our stall!

And we’ll have a Pants stall in the market 9-6 Friday, Saaturday and Sunday. Come armed with cash to buy some pants (the internet gets so overloaded we can’t usually take card payments), just say hi or take a pic of the stall and share it online with tag #WOWLND for your chance to win an Aimee Working Week Pack

See you there!

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WIN with Divine Chocolate and Who Made Your Pants? and celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight

We’re delighted to be partnering with our friends over at Divine Chocolate with a super sweet social media Fairtrade giveaway!

Divine had given us a Tasting Kit comprising 14 – yes 14! – bars of delicious Divine chocolate PLUS a pack of their drinking chocolate and we’re topping that up with pair of Aimee shorts in brand new colourway Midnight at the Oasis.

The competition runs our social media this weekend kicking off at 7.30 am on friday 27th February and ending at 23.59 on Sunday March 1st.

How to enter:

On facebook? Share this post

On Instagram? Telling us why #WMYPisDivine on this photo

On twitter? RT any of our #wmypisdivine posts

We’ll pick one lucky winner at random on Monday 2nd March and the hamper of joy will be on it’s way soon after!

Why are we partnering with Divine? Well apart from the fact that their chocolate is irresistible, we love that they are 45% owned by the farmers who grow their cocoa and that they do great great work with those farmers in Ghana – especially with women Eating their chocolate is a life changing thing to do!

Good luck everybody!

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Facebook research

tl;dr – we did facebook research, You see more from us if you like/comment/share posts. Linky – cats on roombas.

A few weeks ago, we asked for volunteers to help us do some research regarding our Facebook page.

As background. we post a minimum of seven times a day, at broadly the same times every day (first thing, 9ish, lunchtime, mid afternoon, end of working day, 8ish and just before bed). We try to share things you’ll find interesting and funny as well as what we’re up to and – of course – pictures of our pants in the hope that you’ll go and buy them.

We know that Facebook has all kind of algorithms determining who sees what but we wanted to get some real data from you on what you see and when.

We thought we’d maybe get ten volunteers. We got 33! And so we set about it. Three groups were set up, and we asked each group to do one of the following things

Group 1 – interact with us as normal; note how many posts you saw every day for a week

Group 2 – consciously like/comment and share every single post that we share; note how many posts you saw every day for a week

Group 3 – interact with us as normal and count the number of posts, and then go back to our page at the end of the week and count up how many posts are visible

In the period, we posted just over 60 posts. On average, you see 4 posts from us a day. Four was the lowest number of posts seen, 56 (hello Liz!) was the highest. 

Other interesting things came along though – it seems that the time we post things doesn’t necessarily tally with when they appear in your timelines. And not one of you sees every single post we share – which is good as it means we can worry less about repeating ourselves and boring you! And who knew there were so many Kates, Catherines, Kathryns and other spellings! No other name was so well represented! And what was genuinely very interesting was how much you all took to this challenge – we got graphs back, and tables and times of posts. It was very warming indeed to feel that you wanted to help us. THANK YOU, wonderwomen!

What was really noticeable – even in just a week – was that everyone in group 2 was reporting seeing more posts per day at the end than at the beginning – up to 50% more!  Proof that the facebook ‘give you want you’ve told it you want’ model is working. And so our job is to make our content more engaging, so you see more of it. What would you like to see – is it the behind the scenes stuff, or the pants, or pictures of cats on roombas? (we like cats on roombas)

If you were involved in this and you’ve not yet pinged your findings back it’s never too late – it’s genuinely very interesting reading them! Thanks everyone for taking part!

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