Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

I know who made my pants…

There probably aren’t many blogs (at least not, er, you know, respectable ones) out that there tell you much about the underwear of the author, but today, three years and eight months after I first settled on the name whomadeyourpants? I am delighted to report that today, I know who made the pants I am wearing right now.

They were made on the 9th December by Roshna, Samia, Hani, Zakara, Batol, Hajera, Sacdiyo, Sarah, Hamdi and Emine. They are made from fabric that we bought from KLS Fabrics in Cheshire http://www.klsfabrics.co.uk who themselves buy up the stuff that gets binned at the end of a season (yes, there are fashion seasons in lingerie). They are stitched together with thread from the Lancashire based http://www.empressmills.co.uk (even though the threads are made across the border in Yorkshire. They are held up with elastic made and dyed in Wiltshire by http://www.stretchline.com

I am quite tickled by this, so much so that I actually woke up excited about that pants I was going to wear today. It’s been a long time coming (especially as we sold out – you may well have had whomadeyourpants? pants before me!) but I’m really pleased. It’s quite amazing. Remember whatsisname, I liked it so much I bought the company? I prefer my version – I wanted them so much, I started a co-op.

But even though we are quite a lot about pants, we are also quite a lot about empowerment, and I think we have started taking some steps towards that in a broader sense this week. We’ve been having some production issues- machines not working, and teamwork being.. a new concept and the fact that we lost four weeks production due to the weather and the building we work in being inaccessible. We are capable,now, of a good level of production, but we’ve been struggling to achieve it. Something had to be done.

So yesterday, we had a big meeting with the women we employed in December and told them a bit about how many pants we need to sell to pay them and the bills. It’s hard to know how much detail to go into as there are still very mixed levels of English, but we are a co-op and it’s right that everyone shares the responsibility. In my mind, taking responsibility is a step to becoming empowered – if things are always someone else’s fault or choice or decision, how can anyone feel they have a responsibility over anything?

The meeting was great – the women told us about a few problems they were having and they suggested some solutions, and we’ve now set it up so that Della (who, I’d like to point out, is a full time volunteer. This whole operation runs on volunteers at the moment) will be the women’s manager until we get to the stage where we have team leaders trained and in place. She will be in the machine and cutting rooms with them to see where issues arise and see how we can help sort them. It feels good and all the women said they felt good about that too. Which is what we’re aiming for.

Since I won the Level 2 UnLtd award in December, my diary is starting to fill up with London based meetings which is going to be really useful. UnLtd don’t just give money but loads of support and access to their prop bono network of experts who want to help social entrepreneurs. Loads of people want to help, mentors, legal people, marketing people – nice. I’m trying to find a way of getting there cheaply, £35 for a train fare twice a month is just too much for me. And I’m even off to the House of Lords soon, which feels a bit odd. That’s with Skillfast, the sector skills council for fashion and textiles. They have funded part of our training under a scheme called Women and Work and we’re hoping to get government support for the continuation of the project.

There are loads of other things going on.. off the top of my head, we now sell T shirts and badges and albums online – and the album is set to be on itunes and amazon soon. We might be on a local radio station soon, and I’ve been in the local paper talking about my time with Rape Crisis – http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/features/living/4858726.Life_after_rape/ We’re starting to offer some broader training on stuff like saving money, computers and things. Della held a volunteer induction day, and we’ve more volunteers lined up – brilliant stuff.

For once my brain doesn’t feel like it’s going at a million miles an hour, which is sort of nice, but a but odd. I’m not used to it. I’m not used to handing work over – it’s been such a long time of me doing everything. It’s really quite brilliant to be able hand stuff over and it get done – looking forward to more of the same! The aim is that I have time to do sales, marketing, PR, and the bit that I am really good at and really enjoy – telling people all about our FABULOUS PANTS! With luck we will be restocked to a sensible level within the next three weeks.. and I plan to write a bit more regularly, so I will keep you up to date.

Hope you’re all keeping well, warm and happy!

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4 Responses

  1. James says:

    Becky,
    It’s fantastic to hear that things are going so well, you really are an inspiration to us all.
    Keep up the good work!
    James

  2. sarahsfleeces says:

    I’m just loving reading your blog and am so looking forward to chatting soon 🙂

    Sarah
    (www.SarahsFleeces.co.uk)

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