Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

The how and why…

The how and why of he jobs we create

 

Poverty and employment are almost like two sides of a coin. While it’s entirely possible to be in work and still be in poverty, it is much more likely that you’ll be poor if you’re not working.

And poverty is about more than lack of money. It’s about poverty of aspiration, poverty of ambition. Children who see Mum going out to work build working Mums into their expectations of the world the same as they do everything else their parents do. We need to see things to aspire to them – which, incidentally, is why I am behind funded space exploration. EVERY six year old has the right to believe that they might one day be an astronaut.

We’re an empowerment project first and a knicker business second, but we’re rooted in the principle that employment brings home more than a pay packet. We believe that employment and the ability to earn your own money are fundamental to feeling in control of your own life.

Our commitment to using work as a tool to alleviate poverty comes through in countless ways but two main ones are in our products and our already job progression pathways.

Products and designs.

Our team were not lingerie savvy seamstresses when they came to us, and lingerie has been described to me as being more like civil engineering and technical drawing than it is to dressmaking. There is a big difference between a 5mm error in your T shirt and a 5mm error in your bra. Even pants are easy to get wrong, and getting stuff wrong can smash confidence.

So our designs are carefully chosen based on what our team can do well, over and over to build their confidence. This also means that to develop skills, we’ll introduce new products (exciting!). Our current pants use three different machines and stitch types. Our next pants will introduce a new type of fabric, and will introduce new cutting techniques, a higher level of precision, new stitches and something new to be proud of. We already know what the pants after that, and after that, and after that, will be, and we know that moving up to the next type of pants will be a marker, a milestone, and will signify progress. It will be something to be proud of in a way that is bigger and bolder than a pay packet.

Job progression

Our team love working with us and we love working with them but sewing knickers isn’t all we hope for for them. One of our team worked in a government office in the Sudan, another ran restaurants in Kabul. We want them to have opportunities to really flourish and so we have already mapped out roles that we hope they will fill here. These roles are things we need, but team leading, supervision, quality control, picking packing and dispatch are all skills that are transferable outside our walls. We want our team to have the confidence to apply for other jobs, elsewhere, if they want them. We’re helping them build their CV.

Poverty is not going away. Employment is a demonstrable route out of it. And it needs to be proper jobs, real jobs with investment in the outcome not just in ticking boxes. We’re not looking for 100 women to go through our doors in a year. We’d rather work with ten women for a year and then see them support the next ten for the next year and then those twenty support the next ten. We’re building something STRONG. We’re playing a long game here, providing an elegant solution to a complex problem. We’re looking at what we do for our team today and thinking about how it will affect them, the women we train next, their daughters, the women we train in five years. Jobs are vital. Our jobs are Good jobs. And we love providing them.

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