Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

What a difference a year makes!

On January 15th 2014, four women came to Pants HQ for interviews for a part time admin post – an Office Manager. A woman called Catherine was one of them. I already knew Catherine – she’d run a great vintage shop in Southampton and had actually stocked our very first Aimee pants when we had them. I knew her, too, sort of – you know the way you know of someone because you’re sort of in the same circles, even if you don’t actually hang out?

Catherine breezed in with an air of utter competence and fun and good cheer and ‘well of course I can do this’. The interview was friendly and fun and I remember asking her how she’d manage without direction, if someone needed to be done and I wasn’t around. She replied that she presumed that if it *needed* to be done I’d ‘rather it was done wonky than not at all’ – and she was right. And I loved the way she used the word wonky. Behind this question was the fact that, by then we’d had a lot of people come to us as volunteers – who needed us. they needed support and training – and we had been almost crippled by it. Who Made Your Pants? exists to create jobs for women who are marginalised by their status as refugees, and to empower them through work. It can’t carry the weight of supporting people to support them too – there is no *it* to do so – there was, at the time, me. And I needed help, expertise, someone to know what needed to be done and get on and do it.

They say that decisions are made within the first five seconds of an interview. I can’t remember how fast I knew but it was very fast. And on January 22nd, Catherine came  – to stay as it turned out. When I won the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in November we used some of the prize money to make her full time and when YOU helped us raise a whopping £110k of investment around the same time, we were able to make a job that covers everything that Catherine does.

Catherine is now our Operations Director and blimey is she a good one.She plans, manages and runs production. She has set up sensible paperwork and forms (with the filepath typed onto on the bottom so you know where to find more – the joy!) She manages the team, their HR needs, their holiday – and remember a lot of these concepts are unfamiliar so some things need to be explained two, four, five or more times. She orders everything we need, and in good time. She answers your emails, the phone, and talks to our fire alarm company and the phone company and all the things that a business needs to do just to exist, even before Doing the Business. She manages everything inside this building of ours so that I can do things like come out and meet you on our Let’s Talk About Pants events. And she does it with a good humour and patience that is a pleasure to be around.

This time last year we were – honestly – a bit stuck. Catherine has made us better, made me better – and made our future bigger, bolder and brighter. Which is what I’ve always wanted – and what I know you want for our team too.

What a difference a year makes.

Oh, and entrepreneurs? GET A GOOD COLLEAGUE AS SOON AS YOU CAN. EVERYTHING WILL BE BETTER.

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