Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Lush Pants!

Well look at me, breaking with tradition. It’s a Tuesday and I’m blogging!

It’s all go here at pants HQ today, we’ve a whopping four volunteers in, and things are getting done! We’re really busy – our sales are trickling upwards so there’s all the associated paperwork to deal with there, and we’re rushing like fury to get ready for a big funding bid, and our fab LushPants event this weekend.

So, what’s the news?

Let’s start with this. Our smasher of a volunteer, Debs, has been officially granted a work placement, here with us. This is totally brilliant for us, and we hope for her too. Debs came to us about a year ago, looking to change her career path. She’d done care work but was tired, as she put it, of wiping bums (well, that’s not exactly how she put it!) as she knew she could do so much more. Already on a bookkeeping course, she came in to do our admin and she has absolutely blossomed since she started with us. Like so many of the women we work with Debs had had a few knocks in life, and so her confidence was really not where it should have been. But now she bustles round the place, knows where more things are here than me, and the other volunteers go to her for help – it’s been a real delight to see her grow and start to shine. Just recently Debs won an award at her college course for ‘person who has come the furthest’ – she really has, we are dead proud of her, and really chuffed that for the next 13 weeks she is with us four days a week. Debs manages our internal finance function, and we’ve got this funny feeling that most of the office management is going to fall to her soon. Fingers crossed. ( I just asked her to read this to make sure she was happy with it. She said I’m going to make her head swell. My answer was that after 51 years, it’s time for a catch up.)

My plea to the internet for some new volunteers has been a bit of a brilliant success, and we’ve new people in who have skills to offer us. There will always be a place here for volunteers who need support, but it’s a huge difference to the smooth running of things to have people who can just get on. One volunteer TBC (nope, she’s not awaiting confirmation, that’s her initials) is a real life friend of mine who’s a qualified medical person but can’t find a job, another, O, came in for one morning and whizzed through getting a bunch of forms made up for us (this is the sort of thing that can take hours with unskilled volunteers, and holds up a lot of other stuff) and B is currently organising my upcoming trips to London. I’ve quite a few at the same time as we expect to be Christmas busy here, so I will be quite tired I think. Our regular volunteers A and S are cracking on – S is supporting the fundraising function, and doing a great job of keeping up with my chaotic workload. And A is back from holidays to fight with our recalcitrant printer and, we hope, get some compliment slips designed soon. Woo, look at us with our grown up stationery!

I’ll not mention the name of the funder we are applying to but we’re building a bid for a hundred ish thousand over three years. It sounds a lot but when you think about it, that’s, say, £33k a year, to contribute to me, Della, rent, training programmes, rates, not to mention worker salaries – it doesn’t go far. We’re applying in what’s called a ‘front loaded’ way – say £50k in year one, £30k in year 2, £20 in year three, as we anticipate sales going up and we’ll need less as the years pass. It’s a balancing act – we’ve got to tell the story of us, why we’re needed and what we do without sounding desperate for cash.

We’re eagerly awaiting delivery of our first Lush funded case studies, which you, you you! will be able to get your hands on if you come and see us at the Lush Southampton store this weekend. We’ll be there from 10ish on Saturday til about 4, and then 11 til about 3 on Sunday, with some pants pieces, a sewing machine and advice – so YOU can have a go at making pants. It’ll cost £7.50 for you to have a go and take away the result, and we’ll be selling the ones we made earlier for £10 – or if you want to compare and contrast yours with our, £15 for the two. Bargain! Plus if you’ve ever wanted to get your hands on our snazzy T shirts, or badges, or even our album (which I’d like someone to mastermind a plan for – can we make it, or a song from it, Christmas number one?) we’ll be there, possibly with bells on, celebrating almost one year of trading. How far we’ve come!

In other wee bits of news, I went to a tea party in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières last week, and was invited to take our pants along. There was a nice amount of interest and plenty of cake! I’ve taken to carrying a sample pack with me everywhere I go, lest I otherwise start flashing mine.. not the best look, I’m sure you’ll agree! Also, we’re scooting ahead into next year and our Valentine pants are taking shape nicely. Let’s get Christmas out of the way first though, eh?

We’re very much counting down to the end of the year and the start of a new one. Our to do list for 2011 is now taking up half a flip chart page, and it’s nice to be able to put stuff there and take it out of mine and Della’s minds! We’re starting to feel just a tiny bit more secure every week, and we’re hopeful that this continues. With your help it will – every tiny bit of revenue we get is a step towards us being sustainable on our own work, not through grant funders. YOU can help US make a real difference to REAL WOMEN – and get yourself some fabtastic pants into the bargain. Go ahead – make our day!



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