Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

The End of the …

The End of the Week

So, it’s the end of A Good Week and the end of Refugee Week. It’s been a busy one, eh? We hope you’ve enjoyed our photos, recipes and stories this week and that you agree with us that business can be good, refugees are very good, and that we’re doing good. We know we are.

If you’d like to know more, we have have an open day coming up and you are very very welcome. All the information is available via http://whomadeyourpants.co.uk/shop/misc_products.php?misc_id this page

Thanks for being with us this week – we hope you want to know more and that it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Becky, Della, Samia, Sacdiya, Yasmein, Batol, Zuhra and Hawa

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Making somethin…

Making something out of nothing – our pants, our premises, our team

 

First there was Nothing, and then it exploded – so goes the story of the Universe.

Who Made Your Pants? has exploded too. We started with an idea, one woman and a whole lot of energy. We’ve added a few more people to that, a few tonnes of stuff that other people have thrown away – chairs, tables, desks, monitors, fabrics, but the most important ingredient in our mix is our team.

 

We’re talking here about making something out of nothing. Clearly, our team aren’t nothing but in some ways they are treated as though they are. As if they have nothing to offer, as if they are just a burden, a drain, a weight to be carried. So very often women are the most marginalised within even the most marginalised communities – the women we work with are classed as economically inactive, few are able to secure good work but they’re just like you and me. They don’t want to do nothing, they don’t want to be bored, they don’t want handouts. They want to work, to contribute. And they are massively underused resource.

 

The VSO said,

 

‘Women are the world’s greatest untapped resource for development. Healthy educated empowered women generate money for their communities and bring up children who survive and thrive, But discrimination holds back millions of women, preventing them from fulfilling their potential’

 

This untapped resource exists world over. Women are the key that can turn nothing into something, Microfinance for women has turned a few dollars into cows into milk businesses into school books.

 

Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General to the UN said,

 

‘Women are the key to eradicating poverty….wherever there is progress for women the whole world benefits’

 

We believe in our team. We believe in their power to change their own lives and those of their children. We believe in the good that work can do. We don’t think they’re nothing. How about you?

 

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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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Becky’s big id…

Becky’s big idea

Innovation and entrepreneurship are powerful forces that can be used to drive change. I wrote a blog about how I came up with the idea for Who Made Your Pants? A little while ago. For me it came from a passion for equality, a love of pretty underwear and a huge personal change. Many social entrepreneurs are driven by something stronger than a market need – they’re driven by something that’s happened in their lives, or something that they want to change.

Read my story

https://beckypants.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/who-made-your-pants-you-know-us-but-how-much-do-you-know-heres-our-story/

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Happy Place, Ha…

Happy Place, Happy pants

 

For many of the women we work with, it’s important that this space is for women only. For their families, too, this is important. This might seem unusual to some of us who are used to working in standard mixed environments but it’s a fundamental requirement – some women might not be allowed to attend if that were the case.

 

We’re an empowerment project. Our aim is to support our team into knowing themselves, finding out what they like, what they want, and helping them believe they can achieve it. For that to be at all viable, they have to have a space in their lives where they can be just women. Not wife, not mother, sister, daughter or auntie, but women. So we do everything we can to create a warm, friendly, happy, fun environment for just that.

 

We know our team feel safe and happy here. They tell us so. One woman said,

 

‘First when I came here [to the UK] I was sad and I cried every day. Now I come here [to Who Made Your Pants?] I am happy. Another, Batol, said,

 

The first thing is, I made relationships with other friends. I feel very comfortable here, I feel relaxed, I like working here. And I feel better in the rest of my life because I work here. I have improved my English a little bit. Before I worked, all the time I feel sad, thinking, why have I not got a job?  My life has got better because I have some wages and I like to be busy, not just watch TV and do boring things. It’s ok to watch TV after being busy but not all the time.

 

We love those quotes.

 

There are, of course, times when we do need a chap onsite. If that’s while our team are here, we shut connecting doors and make sure our team know. And men are very very welcome at our upcoming open day. We’ve given our team lots of notice so they can tell their families and make sure they’re prepared too.

 

Knowing that we keep this space women only means that our team can trust us with that boundary and can get on with the far more important business of learning and working on a day to day and minute by minute basis. No-one learns well if they are uncomfortable or scared. No-one can get into that lovely deep flow space of being deeply focused and really enjoying what they are doing if they are looking over their shoulder.

 

And the outcome of all of this is that our pants are truly happy pants, from the bottom of our hearts to the heart of your bottom, so to speak. We think this quote from supporter Carol Christmas sums it up.

 

‘Congratulations to you and all of the team who not only produce fantastic pants but also live and work according to fantastic values. A real inspiration. I am sure it is this that make your pants so good to wear!’

 

 

 

 

 

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  The languag…

The language of food

One of the the fundamental principles of Who Made Your Pants? is bringing people together, showing everyone that we’re all the same. We are women here first, not mothers or sisters or wives. And we aim to show everyone who comes though our doors that we’re more the same than we are different.

When we started, and every time we bring in new workers or volunteers, we have some barriers to break down. We have volunteers who, before working with us, had never met a refugee, never spoken to a woman in a headscarf. Some of our student volunteers live within a street or two of our workers, but the two groups never mix.

Lunchtime is when we all get together. We share each others food and we learn about each others customs. We learn new words, try new things, and sometime eat things we can’t name as we don’t have a translation. It’s never gone wrong yet. There’s a lot of cake, a lot of rice, a lot of salad, spicy relishes and hand broken bread.

Sharing food is, and always has been about more than filling our bellies. It’s about saying I like you, I trust you, you nourish me. Your food tastes good to me, you have made my day better. I like you. You like me. We are friends.

We’ll be sharing recipes this week. We’re having an open day on the 17th July, and lunch is included. Come, share food with us. We like you. You are our friend.

https://beckypants.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/open-day-online-booking-now-available/

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Make it easy, m…

Make it easy, make it happen

‘The environment’ is no longer the preserve of the greens or treehugger*. We’re all aware of climate change, we’re aware that the scientific consensus is that it is related to our activities. We recycle. We try to walk more. We buy energy efficient bulbs and we try to remember to look for local produce. We want to help, to play our part. We care.

But we’re human. We don’t always read the labels and we sometimes put a yoghurt pot in the wrong bin. We have a long day and order a pizza. We want a week or two in the sun. On a cold day in June we turn the heating on. It rains and we jump in the car. We take the easy route.

A lot of voices within the environmental movement say that we should have less, live smaller, want less, think more, make better decisions, work harder at it, damn you. And while that may be, ultimately, what is needed, that’s a hard message to win support with. We cannot expect people to stop wanting what they want as if we do we’re telling them they are wrong, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t listen much after being told that. We know what to do, feel like we’ve failed so don’t do anything.

I was lucky enough to hear Michael Braungart, co author of Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things, at the Do Lectures in 2008. He said (and I apologise for misquoting as I’m sure I will) that if we insist on saying we must have less, do less, make less impact, the logical outcome is that we’re only doing it right if we’re dead.

And that can’t be true.

At that talk, Michael talked about the fact that we don’t necessarily want to have a load of plastic and metal discs in our house, we just want to listen to music and watch films. And now, Spotify and Netflix are providing those services without us having to give CDs and DVDs houseroom. Or require them to be made, shipped, stored and eventually thrown away. A better solution has been found, a Good solution has been found, that lets people do what they want, in a way that is Good. And it is easy. A new easy route has opened up.

The easy route is what has helped us humans become so successful. We are smart and we have evolved into what we are because of that.  What I took away from that talk is that what we really need to do is make it easy for consumers to make Good decisions.

We, as producers, need to engage with what people want and show them that it can be done in a way that does not feel like a punishment. As producers we have to make it as easy for people to make good decisions as it is the less good. We, as consumers, don’t have to deny ourselves, quite the reverse, we have to take responsibility for ourselves, engage in our decision making, care deeply about the choices we make, love the products and services we buy.

We should all be able to play our part, and care, easily. It should slot into our lives. Not everyone is gong to be an eco activist and nor should they have to be. I want my Doctor to be fully focused on doctoring, and my bike mechanic to be focused on my brakes. We shouldn’t have to be specialists to get involved.

At Who Made Our Pants? we make beautiful pants that would not look out of place on the high street from fabrics that are discarded, by women who are marginalised.  We make what people want to buy in a way that does Good. It’s possible. We’re having a huge impact – huge. And we hope you’ll agree that it is very, very Good.

*I have been known to hug trees

For more information on The DO Lectures or Cradle To Cradel, please see:

http://www.dolectures.com/speakers/michael-braungart/

http://www.mcdonough.com/cradle_to_cradle.htm

http://www.dolectures.com/

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Gentle and funn…

Gentle and funny Sacdiya is has a fantastic eye for detail and a lovely calm manner and so is in charge of all inspection and quality control here. We’re also training her in picking, packing and dispatching pants. Originally from Somalia, Sacdiya found her way here via Holland and brings in Dutch cheeses at lunch time. She is very keen to learn and we’ve an eye on here for a number of roles.

A Day in Your Life

Name: Sacdiya

Date: 7/06/12

Midnight – 6am
6-7am Woke up
7 – 8 AM Breakfast (cornflakes)
8-9 AM Cup of tea
9-10AM Children woke up and I make breakfast for them
10-11AM Children start revising
11-12AM Lunchtime
12-1PM Cleaning the house
1-2PM Cooking
2-3PM Gardening
3-4PM Dinner time
4-5PM Bringing children to the park
5-6PM
6-7PM
7 – 8 PM Children came back home and had bath
8-9 PM Brought children to bed
9-10PM Watching tv
10-11PM
11-12PM Bed

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This recipe was…

This recipe was given to me by my  Irish Gran. It’s easy as anything, to make a huge batch of, which is perfect after a long day at the office. It can easily be veganified but makes a lovely treat with a fried egg on.

Recipe  Irish Potato Stuffing

Boil potatoes with a chopped onion

Mash with milk and butter (or vegan alternatives

Make up a packer on stuffing as per instructions

Mix stuffing with potatoes

Pile into an ovenproof dish with a little butter on top

Bake for 20 minutes

Good the next day too cut into chunks and fried

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It’s A Good Week and Refugee Week

Hello pants fans!

 It’s going to be a busy week for us here at Pants Central. The 18th to 24th June is both Refugee Week and A Good Week, two weeks we’re very proud to be involved in.

Refugee Week is a unique opportunity to discover and learn about what refugees bring to our country. There are events activities across the country. We’re proud here that when people look for safety they think of the UK – and we’re proud, very proud of our brave and resilient team who have made it here and tend towards always having a smile on their face.

Through the week we’ll be sharing ‘A Day in the Life’ of our team, and some recipes and photos, via our blog, facebook and twitter. We hope you love them.

A Good Week is in it’s second year and is a global celebration of all that’s Good. It’s easy to get dragged down by the news, the economy, the recession – but there is masses, and masses, of good happening and we’re delighted to be part of A Good Week. Again, we’ll be posting lots of stuff on the internet. There is a lot to be happy about, lots of Good happening. We just need to see it.

This combination of weeks has been a great impetus for us to write in more detail than our website can give about some of the nitty gritty of what we do. Through the week we’ll be explaining the stages of pants production, and explaining more about who does what. We’ll also be unveiling some gorgeous new photos, which we’re really proud of. We hope you do get a chance to look online – all content will be flagged through these channels

Right here at https://beckypants.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/whomadeyourpants

@whomadeyour

We really hope you like what you see. We’re keen to tell you about what we do and happy to answer questions. Let us know if you have any.

News in brief…

Becky is on leave this week, Della is getting ready to support England and Italy in the football, our lovely Amy K has got her degree results –  and hooray, she got a first.  Samia has had a lot of family visitors, Hawa has been asking questions about why English people drink so much, Sacdiya and  Batol are watching the football too and , Yasmein and Zuhra have been doing exams

Our open day is coming up! We’d love it if you could come

https://beckypants.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/open-day-online-booking-now-available/

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