Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Now you see it, now you don’t… hello sunshine!

Good morning everybody! Isn’t it a gorgeous day! Has summer… really… arrived? Quick, get out there and enjoy it! After you’ve read this of course.

Things at pants central have been as busy as ever over recent weeks so there’s not been time for writing. All kinds of things are going on. Two of our fabulous and long standing volunteers have given notice – one is moving to Vienna, another to Reading. We’ll miss them both, loads, and more so the fact that they won’t be able to join us on our annual picnic!

We’re way ahead on our production schedule now, which is fantastic news, and we’ve Christmas pants all over the place. I have been wear testing and they are GORGEOUS. Assorted photographers have been through our doors and we now have some really brilliant shots of the pants that are fun and show off their colours. One thing I love when I go out selling is that people say how beautiful the colours are. I always reply that I’m too fussy about underwear to let anything that’s not gorgeous get made. I really do think that things that are pretty much necessary, like undies, might just as well be gorgeous. Why not have a little bit of lovely, every day, just for you?

I’ve been to a couple of awards events recently, and spent time with some brilliant people at both. At the Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership awards my friend Heidi came along with me and we had a very jolly time. I met Sam Roddick* of Coco de Mer and was a bit blown away when she told me she’d looked at our website! The next event I attended was Co-operatives Congress, last weekend, in Birmingham. It was at the Hilton Metropole and I kept getting lost – the hotel complex is VAST and it would have been entirely possible for me to have not gone outdoors from Friday when I arrived to Sunday when I left. We were shortlisted for two awards there, and one at Ogunte, and while we won neither, I was so proud of us getting to the final stages.

At the Congress awards dinner, I sat with Alastair Mumford of Topsham Ales, Tara M from The People’s Supermarket (who very deservedly won an award) and Vicki and Margaret of the Star Inn in Salford. Wine and chat flowed and it really was lovely to be around so many like minded co-ops type folks. Not to mention meeting all the Co-operatives UK people. Co-ops UK is the national body for co-ops, and we’re members of them and get support from them. I’ve spoken to them loads on the phone and it was great to put faces (and in some cases hugs!) to names. Some potentially very exciting stuff is coming out of Congress too – I met someone who works for a regional co-operative group that has department stores… they don’t buy from manufacturers or wholesalers independently but have to go through a buying group… and they want t introduce us to the group… We may still yet find that this doesn’t work out – it is more expensive for us to make things than for other people and there are certain mark ups demanded by some shops that we just can’t meet (some want 450% – that means that if they want to sell our pants at £10, they want to buy them for UNDER £2.50) but it is a very very good place to be.

The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) is turning out to be a great network to be involved in. I’m delighted to say that a wonderful woman, another Fellow, has agreed to mentor me, and I am really looking forward to that. Two other Fellows have been providing me with business and financial advice and I am feeling that we have a much more stable footing now.

We’ve got some baby news! Our fouth wmyp baby was born a few months ago, to one of our longest standing workers, and we’re going to meet her tomorrow. We’ve scheduled co-ops training for tomorrow but I’m wondering how many women will be able to come – I’m not sure how the strikes are going to affect schools around here.

I’m going to round up quickly but there are two more things to say.

First, I’m changing the way I use twitter a bit – or rather, I’m making it clear that the @beckypants account is my personal one. I’ll tweet about work there, for sure, but I also want to be able to tweet abut the current political situation in a way that is clearly not linked to my job. The @whomadeyour account will be the whomadeyourpants? oficial twitter feed now.

And last, It’s summer – honest! Our colour of the month for June is Midsummer Mint and or June box set is called Blue and Green Should Never be Seen. And to the end of Co-operatives Fortnight – July 9 – we are giving 25% off all products on our site with code FRIENDS. Gift sets work our brilliantly – the Working Week should be £55 if all 5 pants and two postage were bought separately. It;s usually £40 for the set and with 25% off, it’s down to £30! BARGAINATIOUS!

Have fun in the sun folks – more soon!

*yep, Anita’ and Gordon’s daughter

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I’d better just get out of these wet things…

I’ve just had the most fantastic day and wanted to tell you all about it. And I need to remember that my job is about more than stress and work, it’s about brilliant women, empowerment and FUN so I hope writing this and posting it will help me do just that.

Today was our whomadeyourpants? picnic on Southampton Common. It started as a part of some funded work we do to encourage the women we work with to go to places they might not otherwise, but it’s ended up as being so much more than that. It bought together trainees, volunteers, me and Della, and some truly fab children. I’m writing this, still soaked to the skin, after a number of raucous dips in the paddling pools and screaming joyous drenchings under the sprinklers in the pools. It’s a good thing I wore my usual uniform of ‘clothes I can fall off my bike in’ else I’d have ruined something decent. Nothing would have stopped me going in.

My day started with our fab volunteer Deb and a trip to a well known partnership grocery store to buy provisions. I had absolutely no idea how many people were coming as while people had said they would, it was a bit grey and people do often say they will come and then change their minds. So we bought more than our modest little trolley could carry and I had to play grocery tetris to fit it all in. I biked to the common and met Deb and her precious, delicious, grand daughter there and between us we moved the stacks of stuff to a blanket near the play area and pools. It was, by this time, drizzling, and there was a cohort of wasps making welcoming gestures. Perfect. Debs headed off to collect grand daughter number 2 and I was left guarding the stocks.

The plan was that some trainees and volunteers would meet me at the common, and some would meet Della at the office, to walk up together. As I sat, alone on my blanket, rain bouncing off the bags of summer food around me, I spent quite some contemplating what on earth I was doing. The rain passed though and a hasty phone call between Della and I agreed that yes, we would go for it. Even when everyone had arrived, I have to admit I was making the best of it as the rain reappeared and everyone started covering their plates up to keep the food dry. Oh, the stereotypicalness of it all!

Thankfully, the rain passed again and it stayed greyish, but warm, so we had the great benefit of not needing acres of sunscreen and protection from melting. whomadeyourpants? baby number 3 came to meet us, four weeks old and gorgeous, with his 7 year old brother and bigger sister (and Mum, of course), one woman brought her two six year old twins, and Debs brought her two grand daughters. I have to admit, as soon as the children arrived, I was in my element. And when Della suggested we (they?) go to the paddling pools.. well.. I actually ran.

The twins, the 7 year old and his big sister and I made a beeline for the pools and I was delighted that there were none of these silly signs saying grown ups couldn’t play. We had so much fun. especially when boy child and one of the twins shed layers and started properly playing. I made no such change, just waded in as I was and got soaked. Repeatedly. There are two fountains spraying water around and the children were a bit wary of them so I was brave and went though them to make them laugh, which worked ahttps://beckypants.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php treat. One of the fountains was like a big ball with holes in, at a level that children could sit on. So about 7 children would sit on it, block up all the holes, and then jump off at once, catching wanderers past a right ding in the ear with mains pressure jets of water. Much, much screaming, yelling and fun. Can you tell I enjoyed myself?

When we eventually got out of the water, I wrung out my clothes as best I could and we made our way back to the food. It was lovely. Some people stayed for the whole time, others made flying visits, but it was great for everyone to meet some volunteers come in on days when there is no sewing, so never get to meet the rest of the team.

There was plenty more playing after more food, climbing frames, slides (actually, the slides were earlier, I was far to soggy to slide. I’d have squeaked) swings, and singing. The 7 year old boy child and his big sister did some lovely singing in the round as they were attempting to tip me upside down in one of those big flat round bowl swings. I think I was as disappointed as them when we realised the grown ups were packing up. It was a truly brilliant day, lovely for the trainees to bring their kids, big and small, lovely to get everyone together and lovely to have time to spend time with the lovely, amazing and frankly awe inspiring women I consider myself privileged to work with. Absolutely brilliant.

I believe there might be photos from today.. I’ll post if I can find them. And I’m sure there’s more news in general from the last few weeks – of course there is. We’re just about to start production of the new collection, so hands on your wallets folks, we’ll be getting photos taken and up onto site soon, and asking you to support us soooooon. We’re aware that the quality of the last collection was..patchy so will be offering a discount to anyone who bought from the Jasmine collection and said we could mail them as a thank you and ‘see how great our pants are now’ incentive.

As a last bit of news, er, I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say yet, but I’m buying the Guardian tomorrow and planning to read the Society pages first. You might want to, as well.

More soon folks 🙂

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Power to the Small Massive, 2 Faces and a 52 day old sweetheart

Morning everybody,

Today’s blog is brought to you by the Asian Dub Foundation songs 2 Face, largely because my experience of today has been one of two distinct halves already, and Power to the Small Massive because I feel that we are tiny in a giant sea, and the number 52 which is how many days whomadeyourpants? baby number 2 has been outside his mum and in the world.

I wrote the first part of this this morning, and the second part after 52 day old young man came in. He lifted my spirits and the love and joy on his mum’s face reminded me of why I do this. So while I make no apology for the downbeat nature of the first part of this, the second needs no explanation. I suspect you clever lot will see where the join between the two parts is and where he came in!

Blimey, what a day I am having. I can hear laughter from the sewing room, and I’m glad the women are having fun. But I’ve been having a hard day. I was undecided about whether or not to share it with you but I thought, we’re all about honesty and this is the truth. Today has been, already, very hard.

Out of the 15 women we expected today, 10 arrived. Four let us know they would not be in. They are due in at 9.45 to be ready to start at 10. Four were here before 10, the rest late. We’d dealt with this timekeeping issue, and so I’m really worried that it’s slipping again. Why is it indicative of, I wonder? I had planned to have a talk with a few of the women one to one just to review last weeks meeting and see how they feel about things – I’m aware that we heard a lot from a vocal few and want to make sure the quieter people have a chance to speak. But they weren’t here in time for me to do that. So I couldn’t. And I still have no idea how they feel, or whether they are happy to keep on training. I really want them to understand deeply that they are key to this and that we need them, and they need themselves – we’re not a support agency, we’re one that rewards putting in and once they are qualified and able to work without a teacher, that will mean they are capable of producing enough product to support their wages. Right now that is not the case and I’m entertaining all sorts of possibilities – will they all leave? Are they erally unhappy, are their families? Do they really expect to be paid when they can’t do the job? We can’t support passengers, especially not at this early stage.

Alongside this, on my to do list for today is: prepare our Annual Returns, our AGM, our next Committee meeting, our invoices. Map attendance, fix computers, finalise six policies and associated procedures, find new suppliers and arrange visits, prepare for another co-op AGM I’m speaking at, work on writing four funding bids and trawl for more opportunities. Do the Quality check of all pants made today. Work out how to get the NVQ we have been promising delivered. Find a college partner. Contact our new Sector Skills Council. Task volunteers with getting an answerphone, scanner and computers working. Build a year plan of key dates including training, intakes, sales, production, designs volunteers. Customer Service. Website development issues and planning. Plan some marketing and sales, do some of each. Work on some broad refugee issues and one specific query from one of the women. Send details of people who have approached me as about volunteering to one of our team who collates approaches and arranges inductions. I feel like I am drowning and I have spent much of this morning gripped by panic. I don’t give up easily, and I don’t want to give this up, but there are some days when it feels very very hard and it’s really difficult, lemon difficult, to feel that this is cared about by the people it’s being built for. And then I feel terribly presumptive – no-one asked me to do this, I decided to do it and I’m not in it for glory or fame or money – but I’d like to think people actually wanted to be part of it. And I can;t help but feel a bit hurt when there’s an intimation that it’s all about the cash.

I’m clinging to the fact that I know a lot of this is down to the fact that right now every aspect of EVEYTHING here is hard and do there are no safe and easy areas I can retreat to and reassure myself they are going well. I know it’s would be easier to cope with the difficulties if we were more stable financially. I know I’d be less worried about money if we were producing masses of saleable pants. But we’re broke and producing just enough to cover our current orders. To grow and succeed, we need to get me out selling pants and that’s just not possible right now.

Ooooh… what a lovely interlude! One of our lovely women has just popped in with her little boy, whomadeyourpants? baby number 2. He is GORGEOUS and was doing that determined sleeping that babies do. Mum decided that I needed to see his big brown eyes and so poked him gently til he woke up – in a very loving way, but there was poking. He’s adorable. They were able to stay for lunch and so everyone cooed and looked and congratulated. The women shared stories of what cultural things happen around birth where they are from – in the Sudan, apparently, in both Muslim and Christian areas, the mum stays home for 40 days after birth. Visitors are allowed, but mum stays home. In the Emirates, where some women have lived, this is not the case and mum can go out but often stays home for a week to recover. We had a lovely lunch together again, and now the women are back to work and so am I.

So, let’s think, what’s been going on over the last week. I’m sure there’s been some big story in the news.. oh yes, that’s right, there’s been that small matter of the election. I’m very unsure of how things will pan out, as of course are we all, we’re none of us soothsayers. I have to say though, I am very reluctant to think that Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ idea will clean up all the problems. I found it very odd to hear a Tory campaign talking about worker ownership, and on reading their Manifesto ( I am such a policy nerd, really) I found little to persuade me that it was about anything more than cheap outsourcing of service delivery.

In other news, I had a long weekend and needed it. I cycled to Winchester and back on Friday with a friend, and had vegetarian fish and chips for lunch, which was fun. And I had a smashing day in a bluebell wood singing the teddy bears picnic song at the top of my voice with my niece. We also went to the Romsey Green Fair, organised by Transition Town Romsey, which was fun. I had a day to myself on Sunday, which nearly drove me spare – I cope badly with having nothing to do – and then on Monday I did chores and met someone who has applied to be a Committee Member for dinner. We’ll find out at the next meeting if she is to be elected but I will certainly vote for her – she has a wealth of commercial experiences that will be really helpful, and she ‘gets’ me which will also be fab.

I’m feeling far better now than I was earlier (and thank you my twitter friends for the advice and support) and I’m riding a wave of calming tranquilliser-ish hormones. My wonderful counsellor at the Rape Crisis used to say that tears had a reward, a dose of natural calming tranquillisers. I like them. I’m still worried though. It seems that fully one third of our lovely women have serious hospital related ongoing health issues. This seems hugely disproportionate to me. And, to be very frank, when they have appointments on Wednesdays, as many do today, we really notice that they are not here. As this group only come in on Wednesdays, losing one session really hits productivity and ongoing learning. And it baffles me – how can people say they want more lessons, they want longer lessons – and then not show? We’ve talked about trying to get hospital appointments on days that are not Wednesdays, and we’ve also talked about letting us know about appointments in advance, for example, when the letter arrives. But it’s always last minute and that makes it immensely difficult to plan.

This is all a learning curve for me and for us, and no doubt for you too. I hope my honesty about how hard things can be comes across as it is – a report on the reality rather than a whine. Please let me know. I want to be open about what we do, and how we do it – and I think that means sharing the highs and the lows, the successes and the slog to get there Today of all days I want to say thank you for reading and supporting. Even when the office is full, I can feel very alone here and knowing there are people out there cheering us on really helps.

Excerpt from Power to the Small Massive

This one goes out to the people
Under pressure Under ground
Out to the voiceless to the restless
Stirring the nation with their sound
Can you feelin the vibe generate new energy
Got to rise up from the ashes got to restart history
Power 2 U if you wanna break loose

Until next week

Becky

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Brown eyed girl… (and why we don’t yet do man pants)

Morning all!

Well, spring has put in an appearance and now, by the looks of today, disappeared again. Hope it comes back soon.

I am feeling much, much refreshed after my break and I am pleased to report that Della is back in the office, her flat, partner and animals all safe though shaken since that terrible fire.

In other news. Our first ever whomadeyourpants? baby has been to visit us today! Five weeks old and gorgeous, the prettiest eyes and apparently a joy to the family as her dad is one of seven boys! She and mum are doing really well. Mum is hoping to come back to work in two weeks as long as her husband can look after baby while she is here. It’ll only be for about four hours in total but for a lot of the families we work with, childcare is a huge issue. A lot of the husbands have jobs with lowish pay and long hours and very little security (one person I spoke to works for an agency and told me that days off sick were almost punished as no more work would be give that week. A day off for an appointment or a lesson was the same), so taking time out is a struggle. But it’s great to know she wants to come back to us and it was really lovely to meet the little one.

Lots of other things have been happening, particularly around fundraising. We are preparing for the John Paul Getty Junior Trust visit next week, and the Hilden Charitable Fund are coming to see us the week after. I’m writing bids for about six other funds too, and we are awaiting decisions from two other funders. Let’s hope they say yes! Sophie from Lush came to see us yesterday, as we have applied to their Charity Pot Fund to pay for the development of case studies on each of our women. We want to show people what life is really like for refugees, and explain why they are here. Plus I have a personal mission to get the UK to understand the difference between migrant, immigrant, illegal immigrant, economic migrant, asylum seeker and refugee (a post for another day) See photos of Sophie’s visit here http://www.facebook.com/charitypot?v=wall and we had a great chat. I’m hoping to work with Lush locally as well as they, like us, are driven by ethics.

If you’ve followed that facebook link above, you’ll see that the question was raised there about why we don’t do boy pants. This was also flagged in the comments following Lucy Siegle’s mention of us in her Observer column. We do plan to do pants for men, and children, but not yet. And there are two main reasons why – short version is 1) All in good time… Our women are learning one thing at a time (and we only launched in December 09) and 2)we use upcycled fabrics for our pants, which tend to be synthetics. I’m not, personally, sure how many mens or kids pants are made of synthetics so we’d need to look for another supplier. Again… all in good time.

Here’s the longer story

We currently make three styles in three colours in eight sizes – a total of 72 products. To get to an agreed design we commission a series of designs (which costs money) and then select the sort we like best. Revisions are then done (which costs money) and we then tweak and test and show people until we are happy. The picture is then turned into a design (which costs money), usually in a size 10 or 12, and a mock up pair made (which costs money). This is then tweaked and tested and shown around until we are happy (which costs money). Once the final design is agreed, there is a process called ‘grading’ which is where the pattern is scaled up and down to the rest of our size range. This is a very skilled job (it all is, as I’m sure you can tell) and therefore.. costs money..

Once we have the grading set, patterns are produced for each panel. There are all manner of ways this can be done in industry, all of which.. cost lots of money. And as we are currently new, tiny and poor, we do it old skool way with each pattern piece cut out of interfacing (a stiffish sort of cloth which goes into collars). This means that every pair of pants is hand cut, every pattern piece hand cut.. it is very labour intensive – three women cut every week, six sit at machines, and one hand sews bows on. And regular readers will know that our teams only sew for three hours a week each, and we only have two teams right now. We are aiming for ten teams (imagine, us being able to help 100 women a week!) but.. all in good time.

The second point, on the materials, is something scheduled for investigation in 2011 and launch in 2012. We buy fabrics from people who buy fabrics from lingerie companies at the end of season, or when there have been overruns or, for whatever reason, there is surplus fabric around. We do this as I think it is better to diver materials from landfill than it is to produce virgin materials – upcycling is one of the key principles of whomadeyourpants?

It is relatively easy to get lingerie fabrics this way, but I have not yet looked into the availability of the sorts of stuff man pants are made of.. and I’m suspecting that guys, mostly, don’t want pink lace. I’m guessing most man pants are cotton, so we need to find a supplier of upcycled cotton (and relevant elastics etc if possible) in the quantity we would need.

The overarching thing is.. all in good time. I have grand plans and huge ambitions for ridding the world of sweatshops and empowering women through work, and of course, producing really great pants… but we have to get what we are doing now right first. Our very first employees, recruited December 1st 2009, are still training on the job, and we are still working how to do this thing we call whomadeyourpants? It’s brilliant that so many people want us to expand our product range so, if I might be so bold, might I suggest you sign up to our mailing list (or RSS this blog, or become a fan on facebook) to be among the first to hear about any new products as and when we can.

Thanks for reading everyone, it’s tea break time now so I’m off for a caffeine fix. Catch you next week!

Becky

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What’s so glad about handbags and gladrags?

Hello again everyone, look, the third Wednesday in a row I’m writing! This is a habit I’m liking getting into.

Today’s subject line has been brought to you by ‘Handbags and Gladrags’, which is this weeks tune in my internal music station. This song was written by Mike D’Abo in 1967, and has, I think, stood the test of time. I love listening to it’s many versions, but I also love the meaning which Mike D’Abo himself wanted to share – he’s quoted in the Express of all places, saying that’s it’s about, ‘…saying to a teenage girl that the way to happiness is not being trendy. There are deeper values’ The line, ‘…that your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy….’ is often replaced in my head with, ‘…that some poor wee kiddie had to sweat to make…’ which tells you quite a lot about how ingrained my job is in my life.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that I’m no fan of the relentless cycle of consumerism we are encouraged to subscribe to. I don’t believe that, over and above meeting our basic needs, buying things and acquiring stuff makes us properly happy. I believe it makes advertisers and corporations shareholders rich, and they like that, so they push the appetite for it. And I believe that this relentless push for new is what drives prices, and therefore the cost of production, and therefore worker wages, down. So I’m sure you can see why I’m no fan.

Just recently, a few people have questioned ‘the perceived value’ of whomadeyourpants? pants. They say that they think that people won’t pay £10 for a pair of pants, ‘they’ will think they are not worth that.. which is a politieish way of saying THEY wouldn’t pay it. Often, these same people will think nothing of spending a few hundred on a dress they’ll wear once, or a pair of shoes so pretty/uncomfortable that they can only be worn once and then get relegated to the back of the wardrobe. There seems to be a bizarre idea that the one off items should cost a bomb and the stuff we use every day should cost nothing. How can that add up? Economically and responsibly, how on earth does that make sense? Or why it can be acceptable to think spending a few hundred on something for one use is ok (and I don’t mean a once in lifetime wedding frock, I mean a once a year for the work do buying a single use frock, and once a year for a wedding.. and once a year for a party… streams of single use items bought and then forgotten), but £10 on a pair of knickers you should be able to wear for, ooh, three years, if not more, (so say one wear a week, 3 x 52 weeks is 156 weeks, 156 wears, £10 divided by 156 is 6 WHOLE PENCE a wear) is expensive?

It can’t just be me that thinks this sort of shift in perception of value is barmy, surely. How has it become the case that the everyday items are considered less valuable than the extraordinary? Given the choice, few of us would go a day without pants, so they clearly have value to us.

In my world, I spend most money on the stuff I use most – so my bag that I use every day, this gorgeous and practical thing http://www.howies.co.uk/product.php/1798/92/ cost £65, but that’s worked out at less than 20p a day so far, and I plan to keep using it for years. It makes more sense to me to spend money on the regularly used stuff – can anyone explain to why this would NOT make sense?

I’m not going to go into (even more ranty) detail about why I think this is happening as I think there are loads of reasons, some more valid than others. I’ll just say that I think that we are encouraged to think we are valuable and successful in the world if we have a lot of shiny stuff, and so we buy into this idea and buy the stuff. It’s insidious. I’m going to wrote about Edwards Bernays soon and his use of psychology to create in consumers needs that his business friends, hey presto, had solutions for, but I’ll leave it there for now and move onto an update on what’s going on here.

It’s been another week of ups and downs. Mostly ups. International Women’s Day on Monday started with me being interviewed on Preston FM (listenable here in the magic of a podcast http://www.preston.fm Our lovely new mum R has a week old baby girl now, and very diligently rang in today to say she would not be in work. I’ve said a number of times that we really are not expecting her in for quite some time, but she is very kind to call us. I’m hoping she will bring baby in one day – the women (and I) would love to meet her. We’ve had our final cheque from Skillfast, the Sector Skills Council who supported up through the Women and Work fund for training. They are closing down and the work will be taken up by Skillset so new people to meet. We’ve also had a call from the John Paul Getty Junior Trust (who my head always calls John Paul George and Ringo). We’ve applied to them for £63k ish, and they want to come and see us in a month. Will be having a massive clean and tidy up before then!

We’ve a new Treasurer, our first and only male Committee Member, Norman. He is already showing himself to be knowledgeable and experienced, which will remove some of the weight on me and the lovely Allegra who has been holding that role for the last year or so. And in fabulous, fabulous news, one of our founder members, who had to leave us for very complicated personal reasons, is (hopefully) able to rejoin. Fingers crossed. Another volunteer, the mysterious BW, has donated five ancient computer carcasses that we hope to Frankenstein into life with our other donated computer bits, so we can run some computer training and give the women access to the world of the internet.

Internally, sewing is going well, the quality is just gorgeous now. Our two supervisors Hani http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk/allaboutus/whomakes.php?wid=10005 and Sacdiya http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk/allaboutus/whomakes.php?wid=10001 are learning fast and the women seem to respond well to them. It’s got a lot less chaotic and much more smooth. We’ve got a whole bunch of pants that just need bows sewing on, so we’ll suddenly have a lot (I hope) and I want to get back in touch with all the shops, who said they want pants, soon as we should be able to start fulfilling their orders. Our finance systems is bedding in thanks to the splendid, wonderful and ever brilliant Helen and Jeff who have said they and the Mark Thomas List will pay for it for us for the first year. True friends, who have done so much for this, I’m looking forward to saying thank you in person when we go to to see Chumbawamba together tomorrow (todays blog was very nearly brought to you by Chumbawamba’s song ‘I wish that they’d sack me’, as two years ago I saw them sing it, and I was preparing to hand in my notice at my old job. Helen, Jeff and I sat and giggled as Helen said, ‘This is for you, this is your song) http://www.songlyrics.com/chumbawamba/i-wish-that-they-d-sack-me-lyrics/

We’ve hosted some fab massage sessions with the delicious Sharon, and a crochet lesson with Jo and Thea of the Let’s Try learning exchange project locally went really well yesterday. And today there is the steady buzz of the machines from the other end of the building, Della is overseeing it and sewing on bows with the women, there are occasional flutters of chatter but it’s heads down, work on. It’s break time soon and I’ll join the women for tea and cake and lunch and laughs.

Today is a day I really, really love my job, and am so grateful so many people have seen the same vision I have and have given so much to make it happen. Thank you 🙂

Ever seen a blind man cross the road
Trying to make the other side?
Ever seen a young girl growing old
Trying to make herself a bride?

So what becomes of you my love
When they have finally stripped you of
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

Once I was a young man
And all I thought I had to do was smile
Well you are still a young girl
And you’ve bought everything in style

So once you think you’re in you’re out
‘Cause you don’t mean a single thing without
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

Sing a song of six-pence for your sake
And drink a bottle full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds in a cake
And bake ’em all in a pie

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

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