Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Bubble gum sauce and a pants world tour

Hey pants fans!

Just a short newsletter this week as I was away last week and haven’t quite caught up with the news. I could tell you about my holidays in York, about the glorious Minster, the cute wiggly Shambles, the lovely friendly people, the taxi driver who was very angry about Pussy Riot being imprisoned, the fantastic afternoon tea at Bettys (no apostrophe for trademark reasons) the Medieval Mystery Plays… but that’s probably not what you’re after.

So, what happened while I was away. Well… There was a day or two of heaving and huffing as Della and Amy tried to rearrange furniture to create a training area. Our space wasn’t obliging though, and they decided in the end that it’s just too small. Moving a wall might well be a option and fortunately, in this building, that’s relatively straightforward.

There are new pants on our Global Pants map – more pants have gone to France and Germany, and we’ve sent our first ever pants to Canada. We’re hoping to sell enough to fund a pants world tour one day, and spread the pants news globally – Della has suggested we get a sort of ice cream van for me to drive around it. Only if it has sprinkles and bubblegum flavour sauce!

We launched 13 new gift sets last week – now that we have a white we’ve been able to add new ones and they are lovely. Some were suggested by people on our facebook page, and we’re always keen to hear what you’d like from us – do let us know.

Our Year of Pants is still proving to be popular, which is great. I do love the idea of people getting crinkly wrapped packages from us every month for a whole year.

Our crowdfunding initiative is going well. We’re around three weeks away from it ending and we’re at 41% pledges – if you’ve not heard about it, we’re aiming to raise £6000 in pledges by mid September to fund a new machine (which can be used to make man pants as well as woman pants!) It’s live online here http://buzzbnk.org/wmyp Pledges go from £0 to £300 and every single one helps us grow.

Last but not least we are gearing up for our lovely team to come back next week. Ramadan is now over and we cannot wait to see them again. Exciting times.

News in brief…
Becky had a LOVELY holiday, Della is happy the football season has started again, Nisha is still away in Poland-land, Amy is on the lookout for some waterproof shoes for this winter and Jackie has reached new heights in her penguin game.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday…

Howdy pants fans!

We don’t know about you, but we’re getting a bit tired of summer. Bring back spring, when we had sunshine and outdoors sitting and fun! Hope you are all safe and dry, wherever you are.

Last week was our first week in ages without our Head of Operations, Della. She’s on a very overdue holiday and it’s a good test for us to see how we get on without the person that makes everything inside the factory and offices work. So far so good – the value of having proper procedures, even in a tiny organisation like ours, is clear. It helped that we welcomed back Nisha, our wonderful sewing supervisor. Nisha has been away working on an exciting contract, but we’re pleased as punch that she’s back. And not just because she bought bakewell tarts!

In very exciting news, we have a brand new printer! Our current ones are wombled/upcycled and are as reliable as that implies. A brand new one is a treat beyond imagination! And in exciting product news, we have found some more of a lace we used a while back, a gorgeous bright vibrant purple. Limited numbers back on sale in two weeks. We’re having some new photography done, too, of that purple and our new white lace pants and some new gift sets. Adding white to our range means we’re able to make some gorgeous new colour combinations – look out for Eton Mess, Mint Choc Chip and Oceans 3, among others, coming soon.

We’ve been getting some lovely feedback and reviews from people who have bought from us recently – we’re always pleased that people like our pants. And as I’ve been asked to put myself forward for an award (more if it comes off!) we’ve been talking to some of our more well known supporters about what they think of us and what they’ll say publicly about us – we’re proud to be supported by scientist and TV presenter Dr Alice Roberts, stand up comedian and activist Mark Thomas and the BBC’s Cherry Healey.

Professor Alice Roberts, Anatomist, author & broadcaster

“Who made your pants? I discovered this company a few years ago: a small co-operative, working to support women from a range of backgrounds, using offcuts from the lingerie industry to create beautiful and comfortable underwear. It’s the antithesis of a sweatshop, and proves that the clothing industry, rather than perpetuating exploitation, can be a force for good.

Cherry Healey, Broadcaster

I adore my WMYP pants. My bottom has never felt so happy and the rest of me loves that they’re made ethically. That is having your cake and eating it. But for pants.

Mark Thomas, Activist and Stand Up comedian
Becky’s ethical business is practical, local, helps those most vulnerable and makes lovely pants at nice price. What’s not to like! She simply gets on with the job of helping the people at the bottom of the ladder without asking for medals. All she wants is orders.

Thanks to all of them!

And thanks to you, too, for supporting us and the work we do. Every single purchase goes towards us doing what we do – providing training, a safe place, creating and sustaining jobs. We couldn’t do it without you. To, er, borrow a misused phrase, we are in this together – and we love that you believe in what we do.

Big love,

Becky and the Who Made Your Pants? Team

News in brief…

Becky’s been up at the Royal Society for the Arts in London, where she is a featured ‘social entrepreneur’ in one of their programmes; Della is, we hope, having a LOT of fun on holiday; Amy K is back in (hooray!) after her operation; Nisha is happy to be back and impressed with the team’s progress, Samia has been teaching us how to greet friends in her language, Farsi, Sacdiyo has been teasing (veggie) Becky about some of the meaty things she likes to eat, Hawa has had her pre holiday inoculations, Yasmein is waiting for some exam results, Batol made delicious falafel, and Zuhra some gorgeous vegetarian rice and chickpeas for lunch, and Jackie, our resident purple wearing person, is helping pack our orders.

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May? May?! Where did April go!?!

Hello everyone, how are you all? Did you enjoy all that lovely sunshine? I did and got my zebra stripes tan lines to prove it (I feel affronted that animals get to be stripy and spotty and we don’t so make my own) and while I’m not less keen to cycle about in the rain, my garden certainly needs it.

So, it’s been an age, as ever, since I wrote last – a month I think. I’m not sure how much I’ll write as my head is buzzing – it’s been what we call A Day, and we know that means a certain sort of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh all day – but I want to say hi and catch you all up on where we’re at. I know what’s happened today but will have to wind my mind back to anything else. Let’s start with today and see where we end up.

So, today, I had a nicely planned diary. Three funding reports to work on, two funding bids, and a few hours of sales calls. This is a fraction of my to do list but represents the most important and the most urgent things. By 10.30 it was clear that it had been blown out of the water. Yesterday, woman arrived for a chat about what we do – she’d emailed our ‘comesee’ email address, and said she wanted to make a documentary about us. She happened to mention that she had a good camera… and we need photos. She left when the office closed and was back at nine this morning, with a friend, baskets of props and a whole lot of good ideas. They’ve spent the day shooting Christmas (crazy lead times as magazines prep stuff really early) and I was called in a few times to check progress and make sure they styling and feel was what we wanted. This was not in the diary, and nor was the one hour delay for my hospital appointment.

Back to the office, lunch. Click on a link in a google alert set to our name to find a student film. I tweeted it before watching it with sound (boo hiss I can’t make the sound work on my computer). Then suddenly realised it was NOT the student project film I thought it was. It was, in fact, the student project film we’d refused to authorise, featuring someone else’s products, a burlesque theme, a man in drag and our logo. So a few hours of not in the diary fear and panic and hammering the phone til I got the right person to sort this out. The film has been removed from the internet but I am still livid. Who to blame? The student? The tutor? The idea that people thought they could bypass our consent and represent us in a way that might have serious implications for the women we work with. You all know me a bit, yes? Can you imagine how cross I was? The emergency chocolate cupboard was popular today.

Anyway, let’s think about other stuff. Masses has happened. The production team are way ahead of schedule, I’ve done number crunching and can report that we’re 334% up on sales in the first quarter of 2010, and we’re 117% up on target. We’re launching our very fist gift sets imminently (sneak news scoop there for you luck blog readers!) We’ve entered some awards. Oh, we’ve extended our premises! We’ve taken on the offices next door so Della has her own office, hooray, and we have a reception area! Our accounts are being prepared, I’m reporting on a number of grants, we’ve gathered some lovely quotes from supporters and volunteers. We’ve a stock room now, and lots of new shelves in he cutting room, plus plans to move the sewing room into one with better light. Our brilliant designer has been to see us and is back again tomorrow, and we’re planning future designs and fabrics – exciting!

It really is an exciting time. My perpetual feeling for the last few years has been that, ‘if we could only get x, we’d be ok’. Right now, x is an office manager, a production manager, a finance manager and an events person. We’re growing so fast we need people to do the work but we’re not bringing in the cash as until there are other people doing the work, I’m doing too much of it and not generating the cash. If we had the cash we could pay people, if we had people, I could do and generate the cash. We’ve had the lovely Bernie running our office for the last wee while but she’s moving on soon – we’ll miss her and her abilities loads.

I’m out of steam. Thanks to everyone who reads, buys, supports, volunteers, works, evangelises…

Until the next time pants fans

Becky

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