Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Go pants team, go!

Great news! Not quite a year since I started working on this full time, I have just been told that we finally have the team all pretty much signed up. 25 women have committed to learning and being involved, we’ve very nearly every scrap of paper we need from them, and most of them have actually started English classes. Hooray!

We’ve been struggling with getting women involved, not becuase they aren’t interested, but because childcare is elusive, expensive and vital. And I wrote a while back about how I *thought* we had the team sorted. But the childcare issue means we have had lots of drop outs from women who would love to be involved, but who have no-one to look after their little ones. But a call this morning form the fabulous Allegra at CLEAR http://www.clearproject.org.uk/uk, who is doing a brilliant job of being both in CLEAR and Pants’ Treasurer, and it really does look like we’ve done it. And while we were talking on the phone, another woman came forward too, so we should have 26 – which is great, as I suspect there may still be one or two more drop outs.

Our hope initially was to work with 10 women, but advice from June, the sewing and production trainer, suggested we could support 25 workers. I’d personally like to help every single one of the 80 or so women who have shown an interest, but I know it’s better to do a small good job than a big bad one. So this is the start.

The Sector Skills Council for Fashion and Textiles (which is shamefully being threatened with closure) can provide us with up to £600 per woman for training, and this will go a long way to making sure we get really thorough training. Which will go a long way to making sure we make fab pants!

Life in the office is currently a little bit dull. Documentation and filing and writing blinking funding bids is not what I enjoy most, but it all needs to be done and so I am doing it. Lovely Tara from Wessex Partnerships has done absolutely amazing work on a bid I hopw to send off on Monday, and she’s trawling through the business plan too. In my last job, I often had to support people on their own business plans, so I *know* it’s important, but in my head, a little voice is screaming ‘it is just going to work, ok, we don’t need all this detail’. That voice is getting a stern telling off. We’ve had a few rejections recently, so news of the £450 from Southampton City Council Active COmmunities team (for posters in a variety of languages for emergency situations) was very happily received, not just for itself, but for the fact it was a yes after a number of no’s.

In other news, whomadeyourmusic, the brilliant album of donated tracks, seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Nigel of electropuppy is a one man marketing machine (thank you Nigel) and if I have it right, the album is now available for download from here http://www.madbouncydogs.com/store/index.php?selected_artist=36 and has been released as a physical CD from here http://www.dpulse-america.com/, both at £6.50. Nigel called me last week and I got so excited by what he had to say I got a bit muddled, but if I remember correctly, if we sell 1000 copies, Universal are going to get involved with distribution into outlets they work with. Whoda’ thunk it, eh?

I’m just getting photos together of Tshirts and bagdes; they too will be available for sale soon, hopefully by Wednesday next week. I’ll let you all know as and when…

And in a final exciting tale, I’ve a second meeting with Ria, who is desgining the pants, this afternoon. She had masses of designs, and we whittled them down. I hope to have something approaching the final ones today, which I’m then going to show to people and get some feedback on. Progress, progress, progress!

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What a beautiful day (hey, hey)

Ah, Summer is in the air and festival season approaches! A very generous friend of mine has made it possible for me to go to Beautiful Days and Blissfields, so I shall be happy relaxing there in the sunshine (is that too much tempting fate) later on this year. This week is a bit of an odd one for me as I’m catching up after being ill, but let’s see what there is to tell you…

Things here are still swooshing along pretty rapidly, and it’s good to know that they weren’t held up too much by me being ill last week. I had a horrible stomach bug which is largely past, but was most unpleasant for a few days and I’m still a bit worn out. But the project now has momentum of it’ s own, so things were happening even though I was consigned to the sofa with a duvet and afternoon murder mysteries.

The English assessments have started, which is great news. All the prospective workers are being assessed to find out their level of English and therefore what sort of training they need. Last Wednesday, the English trainers, the sewing trainers and I all met to work out what English was required to learn the sewing – not very much apparently, as the wonderful June and Ria teach a lot by showing. We need to cover Health and Safety stuff properly, so we need the English for that, but it’s really exciting knowing we’ll be actually delivering training really soon.

The English looks to be delivered at two levels – higher and lower – and enough women to form the higher level class have been assessed, so that class is good to go and should start within a week I think. It’ll take three months, so (taking account of the fact that a lot of the women try to go to see family for a month in the summer) that class will be ready to start sewing training in September. The lower level English class will take a bit longer but should be ready to start sewing training in about November I think. June and Ria think it will take three months to learn how to make knickers, so we *should* be ready to sell in the first week of December. Hooray!

This morning I had a really good meeting with Tom from the Sector Skills Council(SSC) for Fashion and Textiles and Rob from Wessex Partnerships. It sounds like the SSC have a really good funding stream for training called Women and Work, and we are applying to them for funds for the sewing training, but we also talked about apprenticeships and NVQs for later on – there’s always been the idea that women would progress to become team leaders, or learn about finance, admin, marketing, sales, whatever they were interested in. Wessex Partnerships would be the training provider, the SSC would pump the money through, and we would end up with really skilled workers with qualifications that they can be proud of. I’m going to meet Rob again to sort out the details of this but Tom said that if we take people on in December we might even have them leaving the apprenticeship this time next year – exciting and almost tangible stuff.

Oooh, we’ve been the lucky recipients of more donated stuff – a squicky pink sofa, a computer desk and another, working, proper, office chair. And we were in the local paper last week – I’ve got to see about getting the photo online as it’s a ‘you need to buy this’ so I’m not sure about copyright. But I’d like to upload the article. Nice little piece about some funding we’ve received and a photo of one of the funders, and three of the women who will work here. Oh, and me!

In slightly rubbish news, four women have had to drop out of the project as there is no childcare – they can’t even get childcare for the training, let alone working, and there are some concerns about the informal childcare we’d hoped they would go for. We’d hoped they would feel ok to share with friends, but they rightly feel it’s a lot of responsibility, and some live too far from anyone for it to be viable. We do have a waiting list, so we can offer work to more people, but it’s a real, real shame that this is such a barrier.

The ScarletBLONDE gig (details at the bottom of the post) on the 23rd in support of pants is fast approaching, and I’m sorting out how to get there and trying to find out about ethical T shirt printing in short runs before then, would be lovely to have a few Tshirts to sell. I’ll probably go and help Kingston NO2ID on the way, they are running a stall that day, and it’s always good to meet people who are interested in the same stuff. Looking forward to the gig – if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, do – £5 in advance, more on the door. Should be fun!

I can see that I’ve already written loads so will sign off and get back to real work. Yet more funding applications to write, more calls to women to make, and I should probably have some lunch too. Thanks for reading folks – hope to see some of you on the 23rd!

Gig info….

23rd May, 8 til 11.55, Suzerain, scarlet/blonde and The Blow Ups will be at The Half Moon Putney.

A great night helping to raise money for the fantastic whomadeyourpants.

See two of the hottest dark electro/indie/rock bands on the planet, Suzerain and Scarlet Blonde tear the stage apart, with The Blow-Ups kicking off preceedings with hot as hell female fronted rock fury.

So wear your pants on the outside and support this amazing night! Tickets are available here
http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/region=gb_london&query=detail&event=307063

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