Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Oh the weather outside is frightful…*

Hello everyone, hello pantslovers, and happy new year! I sincerely hope you all had a great break, a big rest, and are now happy to see a new year beckoning. It’s the 6th already- almost a week gone!

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to write for ages but things have been busy and I was determined to do NOTHING work related over Christmas (Having gone a bit la la due to overwork before, I’m very aware of the need for rest, And if an ethical business can’t let people have a break, who can?) so today’s snow day is giving me some time. And I’m looking forward to telling you all our news.

It occurs to me that one of the downsides of me writing infrequently is that I can only remember the most recent stuff that has happened. Things happen so fast, it’s almost impossible to keep track. Maybe I should make a New Year Resolution to write this every week. Hmm..

But anyway. Things are, as ever, up and down and chaotic. Yesterday saw our second intake of women have their first sewing lesson – and Recycle and Sew, our trainers, have worked some sort of miracle. They have completely revised the way they teach and by the end of the first lesson, the women had almost completely finished some pants! Amazing. It was a real lift, as the first group of women had what we think was a crisis of confidence just before Christmas and we had some last minute quality issues which caused huge problems (more on that below). But so group 2 are now happy and on their way. Thank Bob!

I came back into work on the 4th to find the building cold but unleaked into, and we’ve some new shelves up which help us store things. I’m very much a womble so we have a box of cardboard for making tags and markers and signs, and packaging we’ve received which we can reuse. I hate throwing things away and hope to inject that spirit into the business too.

Skipping back through time, let’s go back to the weeks before Christmas. I’ve not caught up properly yet with Della, out wonderful volunteer (please please buy pants so we can employ her!) Head of Operations, but I know the building was closed due to ice and even so she managed to hand deliver a load of last minute orders. Amazing, and worthy of the Becky School of Customer Service silver star. I went on leave on the 18th (Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd and the anniversary of the reason I went to see Rape Crisis and I often have a bad time of it, so best to be out of work) but she held the fort brilliantly while I was away and I’m grateful.

In the run up to the 18th, we had a manic, manic time. Switching the women from the (cheap) training fabrics onto the (more expensive and limited in quantity) proper fabrics caused HUGE problems. They move just slightly differently, and we think that the women suddenly had a panic about the fact people were actually buying the pants, and we had massive, massive quality issues. Recycle and Sew worked like absolute troopers to get the order finished, and even I was sewing on bows by hand. Della and I were packing and wrapping and shipping and labelling, as well as trying to actually take orders, and a million and one other things, like do our day jobs. It was so full on I had a headache that took over a week of being on leave to shift, but I think (and hope) everyone was happy. I hope!

And to the future! What will 2010 bring us?

Well, my support package from the brilliant http://www.unltd.org.uk has kicked in and I’m up to London to see them in January and February, and I can’t wait. We plan to sell pants by the bucketload, of course (and you can help there.. come on…) but we’ll recruit at least 10 more women, get at least 8 women through NVQs, establish our rolling team leader programme, we’ll deliver training and advice on all manner of things thanks for a grant from the Salaam Programme and Southampton City Council. We hope 2010 will bring us dull but essential things like another laser printer, some more stationery and marketing materials. And a lot of fun and laughs. One of the business’s resolutions for the year is the implementation of tea breaks so everyone talks to everyone, and we don’t let any one person spend all day locked in their office (no matter how much I they want to be!). So if you call us between 11 and 11.15, 1 and 1.30, and 3 and 3.15, we’ll call you back!

Oh, and in reference to my subject line… Four things…

1. The weather isn’t frightful. Snow isn’t frightful, not here. It’s lovely. In a lovely quote from Billy Connolly, there’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s just the wrong clothes 🙂 Yes, I know there’s ice and it’s cold and all. So stay in! I bet your sofa is a comfy now as it was over Christmas. All these people rushing around thinking they *must* get to work – unless someone is a heart surgeon or a firefighter or something, no-one will die from them not being at work, will they? I’m frustrated by the fact that I had to stay home today, for sure, but it’s no great disaster. I’m not dead and no-one will starve or die for not having a pair of knickers.

2. I’ve understood I think why so many places are shut. It’s not necessarily that the place itself is surrounded in ice, but that staff can’t get there to open places up. One of the reasons we closed today is that our sewing teacher lives way out in the wilds. She is snowed in – no teacher, no class, so no students need come in.
We’re also closed because the car park of the building we work in is liable to be an ice rink in this sort of weather – apparently just before Christmas, one car slid along the car park just gently kissing each car as it passed…

3.For a far better put review of why the weather is no great disaster (for the most of us) please do go and read this lovely piece by Victoria Coren from February 2009. I think we all need reminders of what is and is not important. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/08/snow-victoria-coren

4. Why do we have to stop singing Christmas songs on as soon as Christmas day is over? I’ve only just got into the spirit of things by then and love The Holly and The Ivy and all of them!

See you all soon you smashing folks!

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One Response

  1. […] Oh the weather outside is frightful…* January 2010 5 […]

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