Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Another step closer

Setting up a co-operative business is…quite hard. It’s loads of fun, but there’s a lot to do, and as I’m learning as I go, it’s, well.. hard.

The fact that it’s a co-op implies that there are multiple people who are co-operating – so there need to be more than one person. And that fact that this is being set up as an Industrial and Provident Society means, by law, there need to be three people as ‘founder members’. These three founder members all have to sign two copies of an set of rules, and another piece of paper too. Of these three people, two must have their identity verified by a legal type for money laundering reasons (not so that we can, you understand, that would just be silly. More so that people know who we are if we decide to try and make a few extra quid.) And after that, I had to fill out a Registration Form with the name of the business and the trading name and all that.

If anyone had told me it would take ten months to go from my first meeting with the Co-operatives Assistance Network to finally submitting that paperwork, I’d have laughed, and I would certainly not believed them. ‘I’m all organised, me, I get things done quick fast, like Mary Poppins’, I’d have said.

However, I know now that before people sign things, you need to find people. And then manage to meet them. And then explain to those people what you’re doing, and see if they like it and are interested in joining in. And then explain about the legal set up and the implications and responsibilities in law. And because whomadeyourpants? is about working with women who have fled their home countries as refugees, you need to remember that English, especially legalese, isn’t always so easy to understand.

When all that’s done, getting the signatures onto the paper sounds like it ought to be a walk in the park. But Mister Cock Up visits us all. The first meeting of all the founder members for signing went only two thirds right- one person was sick that day. And getting to meet the third person proved tricky – she has a big family and looks after them on her own, and so has little free time. When the meeting was arranged, the document that had been part signed disappeared, so we signed, she and I, a new one. Which still meant we had to get the third signature. Again.

I was seriously wondering if it was ever going to happen, but Thursday and Friday this week were lived in a kind of whirlwind as I rushed from this office to that house to that office, to this woman’s place of work, to get it all together. The final comedy moment happened when we realised that the certification that had been diligently and kindly done by Mister Legal was not what, quite, what we or the FSA needed. My will to live was waning, but one phone call, one wait in a car while Mr Development Worker who is supporting the project got yet more papers from his house, one run to the solicitors, one walk to a cafe to wait for Mister Legal to come back from lunch, one more phone call, one more walk to the solicitors (the receptionist had stopped asking my name – whomadeyourpants? is apparently quite a memorable name so they just laughed when they saw me. I think that’s a compliment) and one more walk to Mr Development Worker’s house…and it was done.

Finally, all the right paper work, with all the right signatures, was in one place, in one room, just waiting to be put into an envelope and sent off. As I realised it was actually, really, properly done, I felt my body wilting. I’d been working mad hours, and I think I’d been more worried than I’d realised. I left Mr Development Worker’s house to walk the half mile or so back to my bike, and then cycle the two miles or so home. I’m usually rushing about frantically, but I just couldn’t, and I looked around me, seeing the blueness of the sky, the pretty white cumulus clouds, the lovely trees down the middle of the Avenue here in Southampton. I cycled home in a bit of a daze, and decided that I’d have a day off on Saturday.

When I got home, I realised I had no choice but to go to sleep. My body just gave out. And today is my day off. I’ve bought groceries, mended the lodger’s radiator, watched a few films and am going to make an exciting dinner soon. I feel… quietly proud and pleased. I seriously wasn’t sure this would happen. But it has. I’m going to keep on with the market research, the funding bids, the finding and meeting women, looking for premises, working out a training plan and all the other things that fill up my days, but in three weeks time, a piece of paper should arrive from the FSA which says whomadeyourpants? is real.

I can’t wait.


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One Response

  1. fang says:

    CLAP CLAPS CLAP CLAPS (it’s hard to clap your hand AND type… )You did dive into it. Not anyone can. Bravo.

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