Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Something Blue, and Elephant Free Ivory

Welll helllooooo hellloooo hellloooooo!

It’s a frantic busy day here at whomadeyourpants? and I’ve run out of steam to rush for a bit so I thought I’d sit and write a blog, as it;s been a while. How are you all? Well I hope?

Things here are really good at the moment. That’s not to say perfect, far from it, and that’s not to say there are no problems, but things are ticking along and that’s A Good Thing.

So, since I last wrote – other than to tell you about our smashing ‘Something Blue’ pants (perfect for weddings!) we’ve been busy as bees. I was out and about at what felt like a non stop events through March. It was a LOT of fun. Hard work, and we all learned loads. We now have forms and paperwork and lists of how to do events and what e need to take so we can prepare much more easily next time. The phrase ‘baptisms of fire’ has been used a lot! We had some really great successes, sold a load of pants, and I was privileged enough to meet an enormous number of really lovely people who said lovely kind things about me personally as well as this business. If one of those people was you – thank you. I’m in the process of following up on all the contacts I made, so if you are one of them, I will be in touch, honest! I’ve just barely touched the ground in a while.

I’m now back in the office for a whole two weeks! Apart from two days.. and I’m glad to be here. It’s brilliant to be part of the hustle of it. I get a bit envious when I’m out and about on my ownsome that there’s lunch being shared and laughs being had! Not to mention I miss the cakes..

But now I’m back in, I’m getting stuck in where I can and carrying on with my work too. I’ve half an eye on the middle and long future -we’ve been asked about replicating or licensing the business model to Africa and other countries. This is always been part of the plan and I’m glad that my instinct for what this could do is being proved right. In the shorter term though, there are photos to take, and policies to write and this business itself to get right.

One of our brilliant volunteers has been taking some gorgeous photographs for us. Our mannequin, Chardonnay (named by another volunteer), models our pants beautifully and we are well on the way to having shots of every 2011 product that we can use for both publicity and our own website. This is hugely important in terms of publicity and showing lots of lovely folk our lovely pants – magazines have a six month lead time. This means that if we want to have our December products in their December magazines, we need to have publicity ready photos taken and sent out, ideally, by the end of May. This, in turn, means that we have bought all the fabric we will use for all our 2011 ‘pants of the month’ up front. As we buy end of line stuff, our supplier can’t send us a bit for samples to be photographed and then store the rest for us for months without us paying for it. We need to buy as soon as we decide what we want to make else it might be sold on to someone else. In terms of cashflow – managing money in and out of the business – this is the exact opposite of how businesses are advised to operate but its the way we have to do things. It’s a bit crazy but that’s the way it works. So we are working to it and hoping to turn up on a glossy page or two later in the year. We’ve also built a huge plan of how far in advance the photos for everything, ever, need to be taken so this should be that start of us having a solid marketing base. I hope!

Technology is coming to the fore a bit for us at the moment. We’ve a new web developer who is doing all kinds of clever things and we are looking our actual IT hardware. All of our computers except one are made from left overs from other computers – people donated old ones and our crack team of IT folk built a smaller number of faster ones. We run Linux (we like open source), one machine has Windows, Della uses her own Mac, I use an Android phone – it’s all a bit chaotic, so we’re having a meeting today ( I have offered pizza) with all the people that help with IT and we’re going to try to come up with a proper plan for making the office easier to work. I’m proud to say we equipped our office from upcyled and donated goods, really- but there are times that it would be brilliant to have something fast and that just worked, out of the box.

In other news, we have had waved goodbye to two brilliant women recently. One of our volunteers the wonderful JG, has moved on. She’s studying for a Masters and has a big dissertation to write and so we reluctantly let her go – we wish her all the very best, miss her already (in the sincere and not rubbish sense) and have told her that her name is always going to be on our list of people to invite to parties and picnics, high days and holidays. And one of our workers has left us as well. She has moved to London with her husband and may be heading home to her home country – her husband said, ‘It is better there now, we want to go home’. That really touched me – there are so many rubbish stories about immigration, asylum and refugees. The reality really is that people who are refugees have fled places that are not safe, places where they are frightened. There’s a clue in the name: refuge – and they very often want to go home. Who wouldn’t? I’m no huge patriot, but if I had to leave the UK (if you did) because I (you) were scared, in fear that I (you) might be killed – wouldn’t I(you) want to go home when it got safer?

Anyhow, anyhoo. If you’ve not seen them yet, our pants of the month are ‘Something Blue’, a gorgeous electric blue with an iridescent shimmer in contrast thread. We think they are a perfect wedding present, or bridesmaid present – they’re old, new and blue – and borrowed too if you imagine the atoms being borrowed from the earth and just our for a moment in the long history of our planet. Next month’s are ‘Elephant Free Ivory’ – they’re exactly the same pattern and style of lace as this months but in an Ivory with a pale blue contrast where this months’ has the iridescence. And guess what.. we’ll be launching a gift set, perfect for blushing brides, including them both. Watch this space, mid May

TTFN!

Becky

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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue..

Hello everyone

Just a quickie from me today – I will wrote more soon about all the events we’ve done thing month but today I just want to tell you about our new pants of the month.

Ok. So on the 1st of every month we‘re going to be launching our ‘Pants Of The Month’ – you know we buy our fabric from industry leftovers? Well, as there’s only a limited supply, we’ll do a new colour every month and if you want them, you need to get them in that month only. We’ll add any left over ones to gift sets but in general terms, March pants are available in March – and April in April, etc.

So, tomorrow, on the 1st April, we launch ‘Something Blue’ – you may have heard there’s a wedding coming up! They’re old, new and blue – old as upcycled fabric, new as new pants and very gorgeously blue! It’s been suggested to me that we can say they are borrowed too as, as Prof Brian Cox pointed out on Wonders of the Universe, we are all borrowed from star stuff and planet components and the atoms will ultimately return to the earth.

I shall be wearing my lovely April blue pants tomorrow – I personally guarantee that they are gorgeously comfortable and fit like a dream. Hope you love them too!

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Right here, right now, right here, right now..

Good morning all! How are you today? It’s sunny and bright out there and don’t I feel better for it.

Things here at pants HQ are still pressurised and we are very much doing what we call firefighting – just the urgent stuff, nothing else. Della has been reduced to packing my kit for events rather than, oh, managing staff or writing management plans and reports, as we’ve been massively short on woman power. But today feels a brighter day. We’ve a great atmosphere here today – lots of women in the production area,a good number of volunteers, and that elusive sunshine filtering in through the windows.

So, what’s happened since I last wrote? I’ve done a few tiny posts but my last proper entry was the 8th Feb – my desperate oh oh woe post. Thanks so much to everyone who got in touch afterwards – real support and help are invaluable. Thank you. Since then, plenty has happened. We’ve finalised our colour plans for the year and sorted out what colour bows, threads and gussets we need. I’ve started my mammoth events calendar. Through March I have eight separate things to be at, and am working some nights until eleven pm (sob) so there has been a scheduling task to make sure I take the time back and don’t conk out, but then also catch up with Della. If I’m out at events, then out taking time in lieu, I’m not here and it’s amazing how fast Della and I can get disconnected and lose track of what each other is doing.

Our new press assistant April is doing really well, she’s keen and competent and comes to me with lists of questions and also suggested solutions – bliss! We’re putting some press out, hopefully today, as a call for BUMS – we need bum models! We’ve had some good press too – I was very proud to be featured in the South Wales Echo, a newspaper from my childhood! Have a look at these links if you’ve not seen them yet.

http://www.ogunte.com/innovation/featured-women-socinn/324-becky-john-who-made-your-pants
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/03/01/becky-unveils-her-patriotic-pants-91466-28252876/

We’ve also had out first photos from our new photography assistant. Looking good. I’m excited about getting photos of our new gift sets soon too. They make me so happy! Another volunteer, Aga, has been rifling through the boxes of ribbons we’ve been sent from Lush – they are extras from their gift department and we’re going to turn them into gift wrap for our sets. I want to play…!

We’re starting to get more applications for voluntary work in response to the calls I’ve been putting out. I’ve had a great meeting with Southampton Voluntary Services (long may they continue – I’m personally terrified for them that they will be cut. How the hell are we supposed to have this ‘Big Society’ run by volunteers if there is no support and training for volunteers? My mind boggles…) We’re getting clearer about what we need – we need a minimum of 6 hours a week and a commitment of at least ten weeks. It takes four week for someone to learn where things are and how to do things and it can be a huge drain on Della’s time if she has to constantly support people. We’ve agreed that, in future, we’ll be happy to open up more volunteer roles to people who need us, but right now, we need people who can help us. The reality is, BIg Society watchers, that it is A Very Hard thing to find experienced, competent people who will do the work, unpaid for enough hours to *run* an organisation or activity – they tend to, erm, have jobs, and be busy. Mr Cameron, take note!

What else? Oh! we’ve launched some super smashing splendid pants for St Davids Day and ran a competition about it too – see previous posts – and we’ll announce the winner soon. They are gorgeous and the lace is great quality – it feels nice and strong and supportive without being too weighty. I’m quite demanding about the lace that we take on – it;s easy to get carried away with all the pretty colours but we need it to have certain stretch qualities and it;s best if it’s a certain width as it means less tweaking of patterns.

I’ve been to my very first RSA event and had a lovely time. I’m looking forward to getting more plugged in to their networks and events programmes. The library blew me away – I’m a complete bibliophile and had purposely taken no bag so I could not take loads of books home. I limited myself to two and am going through them with delight.

What else.. I’ve been filmed by Midshires Co-op for a film on ‘why co-ops’, applied for bursaries to hold two co-ops events, been to PURE London, a huge fashion trade show – I love the shuttle buses between the two venue. Old Routemasters! Have had a meeting with another local place about a refugee/co-ops event in summer, appointed a new Committee member, been approached by a newswire, done a volunteering fair at the University of Southampton, started the process of moving our website to a new hosting and development solution (thank you to J who hosted, developed and supported for soooo long) written a reference, caught up with local happenings at the City Council,met Ethiopian and Eritrean women, spoken for the University Feminist Society, arranged to be at the University for two International Womens Day events, written template lists of what I need for different sorts of events, played with bows for colour matching. Busy busy. And we now employ ten women part time, and are training one more. I LOVE that.

If you want to come and see me, I’ll be at a bunch of events in March. Highlights are…

3rd March
Evening sales stall at Fashion on the Age of Austerity at V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green.

7th March 2011 TBC
Evening sales stall and Speaking at a Student Union IWD event Uni Southampton

8th March International Women’s Day
Sales stall, Uni of Southampton, 10-4 with University Feminist Society, selling pants on campus and promoting us.

http://www.teapigs.co.uk will be running a discount code promo and competition to their 16000 strong mailing list 7th March ref IWD.

10-13 March WOW festival
Speaking 12-1 on the 12 March, selling stall all day Saturday

17th, 18th March Responsible Business Event.
We’ll have a stall exhibiting both days and I will be speaking at a seminar for 20 mins on Friday 18th.

Maybe see you there? If not, happy March!

Love

Becky
x

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Competition time – name that flower!

Celebrate Wales’ win in the rugby, and Dyydd Gwyl Dewi Sant with some super smashing new pants!

Prynhawn da my lovelies! Do bo chi?

If you were cheering Stephen Jones and praying to the rugby gods for a Shane Williams dash, if you love pants, know your leeks, and can sing Calon Lan or Sosban Fach, have we got a competition for you! Pants based prizes galore!

Buy a pair of our patriotic pants

on the day itself and you can be entered into our prize draw. All you need to do is put the answer to this question in the discount code field when you purchase.

Which flower would traditionally be worn on March 1st?

One lucky winner will win first prize, then there are two second prizes and five runners up prizes.

First prize (x1)
One of three special hand-finished-by-Becky red Aimee pants. Finished with green and white bows, like our gorgeous Welsh Red Dragon flag.
Ethically made whomadeyourpants? T shirt (sizes fitted SML, XL)
A free downloadable album featuring music donated by New Model Army, Howard Jones, Kajagoogoo and subgiant
A whomadeyourpants? badge

Second prizes (x2)
One of three special hand-finished-by-Becky red Aimee pants. Finished with green and white bows, like our gorgeous Welsh Red Dragon flag.
A free downloadable album featuring music donated by New Model Army, Howard Jones, Kajagoogoo and subgiant
A whomadeyourpants? badge

Runners Up (x5)
A free downloadable album featuring music donated by New Model Army, Howard Jones, Kajagoogoo and subgiant
A whomadeyourpants? badge

Winners will be picked at random. Competition open from 00.01 1st March 2011 to 23.59 1st March 2011.

Good luck!

Becky

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Ab Fab darling, Ab blinking Fab

Hello there pants people!

What a smashing and busy time it’s been! How are you all – well? Warm? Happy?

I last write on the 10th January so I’m within a month of my last post but not within a week. I plan to write more often as we move into this year, but at the moment we are still deep in the planning and sorting. There’s so much to tell!

We’ve had a wonderful visit from Emma, our lovely designer recently. She and I went out to dinner and talked and talked (well, I did) and we came up with lots of exciting plans. It seems that I jumped the gun a bit with our ivory and pink lace – it’s so different from all our other aces in width and stretch that it won’t be ready for Valentines day but we are building a realistic and achievable plan of what we can make and sell when and I’m looking forward to being able to share that with you.

I’ve been out of the office in London quite a bit recently and it’s been brilliant fun – tiring but fun. I actually met, albeit briefly, Lynne Franks! (google her if you don’t know and then feel your jaw drop. I never expected to live in THIS world!) There’s some hugely humbling news on the cards but I want to stay a bit quiet about that at the moment. I had a lovely lovely time talking to this years intake of UnLtd Level 2 award winners. Part of me is really jealous of them – they have whole year of support ahead. But the joy of UnLtd is that the connection doesn’t go away and I am still feeling part of their family. I was filmed for a little video piece which I hope we can share soon. My mum would be amazed, me in front of a camera, smiling! They did this thing where I had to stand sideways on so they can show a profile shot of me and then my stats. And I had to do funny things, imagining I was dragging photos on a giant ipad. Fun

I’m starting to talk to more people about wholesale stuff recently, people and shops are interested in having our products and I am interested in helping them do so! If you’ve a local shop you think would like to sell our pants, do let me know – the more the merrier and personal recommendations really are the best.

In the office and factory, things are good and busy busy. the Committee has, brilliantly, agreed a salary level for me and agreed that we can actually employ Della – albeing part time – and pay her through the business too. We’ve been paying me what we can, and Della has been paid as a self employed contractor so she’s had no security from us in a long while. This is a huge milestone and I am proud we’ve made it and ever grateful to Della for her faith and support all this while. VERY glad we can officially have her now! We’re both still earning way less than our payscales say we should but it’s a very good start.

Della and the workers love it when Emma come in, she is so full of knowledge and passion, and I know Della’s brain bursts a bit with all the new stuff but it’s great. Plus we got to finally open the biscuits Emma brought us from Italy! We may be losing one of our volunteers, at least part of the time, which is a shame but the way things are at times. Oh, and we plan to take on a sales person – just a little bit. Two half days a week. I’m out and about generating buzz and interest and then haven’t enough hours in the day to sort all the stuff out back in the office, which is Not Good Enough. So – if you’re a woman in Southampton (we’re covered on this legally, we would not be able to operate if we had mixed staff as women may not be allowed to attend), want 2 x half days a week work and have sh1t hot sales experience, drop me a line!

I’m going to end here for today and do my best to write another shorty this week. I’m working from home as I’m having some tests done on my skin and am a bit immobile. Nowt unexpected or to be fearful of, I hope – mad mad eczema has to be resolved – it just means I’m confined a bit. So I may ramble with the stircrazyness!

Hope you’re all very well

Becky
x

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2011 pairs of pants on the wall, 2011 pairs of pants…

Good morning good morning good morning! Well, I know it’s not really morning but January is like the morning of the year, isn’t it?

So, here’s my first proper blog entry for 2011. I’m going to tell you all about or exciting plans and hopes, and then ask you if there’s anything you’d like to hear about that I don’t talk about.

Before looking forward, I need to look quickly back. 2010 was hard. Very hard. I always tried to pull the good out and into my blogs but there were times when it was tough, times we thought we might not be able to move on, or even continue. We are now streets ahead of that – we have a product we know works, and we have £50k committed funding for 2011, and £40k committed for 2012. That makes a huge difference to everything, including my personal stress levels (which themselves make a huge difference to everyone else’s in the office… ) This means that we have a really strong and solid base to plan from. And that feels good.

So. 2011. Our plans fall into two main areas – external (raise our profile, sell more, communicate with funders to report on progress and raise more funds) and internal (tighten up on what we have started to do well; formalise all our admin/finance/HR/legal procedures; begin to monitor and measure the social impact we are having, build on co-operatives training and encourage active membership of the co-op itself) Doesn’t sound much but I think it will keep us busy!

The external stuff falls mainly to me. I’ll be working with the wonderful Chris Smith and Janet Awe on PR, working out how to get us good coverage and encourage people to support us. I’ll also be out and about at events, maybe festivals, selling pants and spreading the word. We’ll be looking for a few more retail outlets, and will be asking you to help us – which shops would you like us to be sold in? Another thing I’ll be doing is working with our fundraising volunteer on a proper fundraising strategy (our current one has evolved quite a lot from the ‘go for everything. EVERYTHING! model I started with but it’s still not what I think of as a grown up strategy) , which I am, nerdily, enormously excited about.

Regarding products…We plan to build on the strong foundations and high levels of confidence the team have developed in being able to make our Aimee style for women for the whole year (introducing a second women’s style in 2012), and will introduce variety by introducing loads more colours and gift sets. We have some scorching burnt orange, laced through with bonfire night yellow and red threads; a gorgeous petrolly blue; a forest green lifted by a touch of reddy orange here and there; some icy ivory with pink, and blue; a new red… We’re planning gift sets themed to occasions – imagine, for example, a lovely ethical Valentine’s Day gift set of our red Aimee trimmed with sassy black lacking down the back, nestled in a pretty box nest to a black Aimee with red lacing, and an ivory and pink Aimee, all pretty, wrapped by us, with a little something extra thrown in. Being a Welsh girl, I’m already thinking that the green with reddy orange that I mentioned above would be a fab St David’s Day knicker! We’ll be launching men’s pants by Christmas 2011 (all being well, we are starting design in spring, will be making up samples for wear tests in summer and producing in autumn)

We’re going to introduce really simple ways of measuring how much social impact we are having as it’s hugely important to be able to show that we are doing a good and useful thing. WE know we are, the women we work with know we are but it’s nice to have some proof. (To that end, by the way, I’m going to be asking supporters for quotes that we can use in publicity materials – if you’d be prepared to give us a quote, we’re looking for short things, two sentences, about the impact and value you think we have – email me?) . Traditional metrics are a bit tricky here but Steve Coles of http://www.intentionality.co.uk has given me some brilliant advice and support and we’re also hoping to work with http://www.globalactionplan.org.uk on assessing environmental impact and looking at how we can maybe do more.

Internal processes may sound dull but for a policy wonk like me they are fascinating and, of course, critical. So much of everything we did last year could come under the rubbish business term of ‘fire fighting’ – we developed stuff when it was needed, not before, as we had no time to be strategic. This year we are going to start with a review of pretty much everything – legal, HR (this is huge for us as our employees are, and will be, refugees or wives of refugees, so we have to be certain every bit of immigration paperwork is totally correct) suppliers of everything from our fabrics to our paperclips, production processes including how to predict when we will need to buy new stuff, reporting.. it goes on and on but I’m ecited by it. It feels to me that we have a big thing to tidy up and organise and that makes me VERY happy (Della may have a different feeling about my excitement, I know! Della, I won’t try to DO it, I’m just looking forward to us planning it!)

Anyway – you probably get the feeling, correctly, that I could go on about this for ages. So I shall stop. I am hugely happy and optimistic at the moment and I hope you agree with me that 2011 looks set to be a lot of fun. Now we are properly up and running, please, do tell your friends. My twitter feed is where breaking news tends to break – http://twitter.com/beckypants – maybe see you there.

A very happy new year to you all – let’s make it a good one, without any fear

Xx

Becky

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Parties and purple pants

Well hello hello hello! It’s been aaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggesssssssssss.. How have you been? Have you missed me? I have missed you!

As a whole bunch of people have asked where I’ve been, I’m going to skip briefly over what’s happened with me, then tell you what’s been happening here, and then tell you all the exciting things that we’re in the middle of. It’s a very exciting time indeed.

After I went and spoke at a Managers meeting for the fab and wonderful http://www.lush.co.uk in Croydon, I was scheduled to have six days off. That ended up being four weeks as I just conked out. It was pointed out to me that I’d been running on adrenaline for over two years and my body just gave up on me. Being a member of our co-op, I had no choice but to listen to my Committee and I was told, in no uncertain terms, to take some time off and rest. It’s easier said than done sometimes but as it was, I managed it. I soaked my troubles away with Lush Ballistics and read and slept and am now back full of pants passion and fervour.

While I was away, things carried on swimmingly. Della really is quite brilliant at operationsy type work and everything just kept happening. Not only do we have boxes of perfect pants in every colour and size, (I’m going to keep on telling you we have loads of pants – every time I mention it is a hint for you to GO HERE http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk AND BUY SOME) but the offices have been moved around to make better us of the space and people have really taken hold of their work. Who would have thought that removing the control freak would allow everyone else the space to get on? Debs is coming on leaps and bounds with her finance capabilities (and confidence, which is IMHO even more important) and Pratima has come in to help too. We’ve new (wombled) filing cabinets, clothes rails, shelves and stacking trays and everything is getting a lot more organised. Dispatch is so much easier now we have pants a plenty to ship. Even my dear ole Mum has bought some, and she hadn’t told me!

Being away gave me the space and perspective to really see and appreciate how far things have come. I can no longer talk about how I am ‘starting’ a knicker business – it’s here, we’ve filed accounts, we’ve bills to pay and suppliers and rent and products and offices and paperwork (masses) and it’s really here. We’re a real hard core of dedicated workers and volunteers and it’s just a lovely place to be. I’m now based largely out of the office as I’m off at meetings, conferences, speaking engagements and the like, but I can’t stay away for long. I miss everyone! I do love the being out and about though – what I am really good at is talking, and talking about something I love. And I love pants! So getting out to shops, events and conferences is the best work I could be doing. Love it.

Next week, excitingly I have been given a complimentary place at the Media Trust event – we’ve been featured in their Annual Report, with a photo, talking about how great it’s been for me to work with Chris Smith of Swarm Communication. I met Chris, as you may remember, through an UnLtd and Media Trust Media Matching event and he’s been stonkingly brilliant. He has recently introduced me to Janet Awe of Awesome Communication (I love that name) who is sparky and brilliant and has bags of experience, so we hope to get a bunch more coverage soon. Aligned with that, and with my love of talking, we are having a partttttttttttayyyyy with the Southampton Lush store on the 27th and 28th November, and Lush TV are coming to film us! We’ll be making some pants in store and selling them – come along, meet some of the people who make them and have a go yourself!

So, pants, how can I not talk about our AMAZING, SMASHING, COMFORTABLE, EASY WASH, pants?! Our Aimee collection is really beautiful as you all know, and sales are gently ticking up wards – if you’ve helped with this, thank you – if not, you know what to do! We’ve nearly made up all the bright purple fabric, and will be moving onto a darker colour – this is a perfect example of our WIGIG, or When It’s Gone, It’s Gone way of working. We bought 600 metres of the bright purple, as that was all we could get, and then 900 metres of another purple, to make up 1500 metres. This should yield about 1000 pairs of purple pants in total. Simples! However, the bright purple is our biggest seller at the moment, so if you like them.. now’s the time girls!

We’re already sourcing new colours – our faves are basic black and then some cheerful brights as no-one, no-one can feel miserable in happy PINK pants and we’re not about boring beige or grumpy grey. I believe, hard, that one of our key messages to the world is that ethical can be FUN and PRETTY not worthy and dull. What colours would you like? I wonder if we can find an ethical dyer to do a colour match thing, you know, like when you get paint made up to match your, um, well I got mine made to match one of my feather boas. You know the thing I mean 🙂

Anyway, enough of that. Funding is still a big issue for us and we have a new volunteer helping specifically with that. She is halving my work by sifting all the possibilities and telling me which ones we are eligible for, and filling in bits of forms too. We also, hooray hooray, have been awarded just under £6k to fund us recruiting more women, hooray hooray hooray, thank YOU Faiths in Action! There are other new volunteers around but we are still looking for support around our website – if you know anyone who would like to help us with uploading content and testing, please let me know as right now, the burden is shouldered by just one person. We could also do with a free, full time IT/tech support person who knows Linux (ubuntu) as our excellent volunteers are really pushed at the moment. But such is the way of things – we’re good at making do and mending, it’s part of our ethos!

I think that pretty much covers everything that’s buzzing about at the moment. We’re still doing the boring stuff like making sure our policies and procedures are all up to date, and getting reporting structures and routines laid out embedded – but I strongly suspect you’d rather hear the fun stuff. Do tell if not!

Glad to be back folks – more again soon

xx

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Our new collection, Prince Charles’ garden and fixing brakes.

Well helloooo everyobody!

It’s been ages since I wrote and so much has happened – again! My last post was.. blimey, the 4th of August! Right, let’s try and address this in a sensible order

After the Guardian article we had a flurry of orders and activity and contacts, all kinds of things were being suggested and talked about – film people, interviews.. it’s died down a bit now, which is a mixed thing. Good that I can get on with other stuff but less good in that we’re -Ta dah!- launched our Aimee collection and now want to start ramping up the publicity stuff .

Fortunately, the ever wonderful Chris Smith of Swarm Communications and another brilliant fashion PR person called Nicola are on the case. I met both of these great people through the Media Trust Media Matchign event, hosted by UnLtd Between them, they are preparing releases for various publications and we’re hoping to get into some of the Seasonal issues of magazines ( I am not using the C word yet, even though I saw mince pies in the co-op the other day)

Our brilliant designer Emma Kidd has been back and a lovely little twist on our Aimee short has been created. It’s sweet and pretty and we’ll be making a limited Seasonal (dammit, nearly used the C word again) range. Same price as ever, just a bit pretty pretty. More on that soon…

My role in whomadeyourpants? is changing as we dvelop and that’s a good but sometimes hard thing. A year ago, I was managing EVERYTHING and doing bits of almost everything. Now the supercalifragilistic expealidocious Della is managing all the stuff that goes on inside the business, and I’m getting more involved in the public face stuff, which is as it should be. We’re absolutely delighted to have been asked to host a workshop in Prince Charles’ Garden as part of an upcyling fashion thingummy curated by Vivienne Westwood. And we are starting to work with the lovely Lush team in Southampton more. I’m off to a meeting tomorrow to discuss being part of an Alternative Freshers Fair, and we’ll be having a pants party with them on the 27th and 28th of November in the Southampton store – come along! Plus I’ve been asked to speak at their Croydon HQ on the 22nd September and am chuffed to bits to be able to meet their head honcho and talk about how they grew and how it has happened for the. I’m really looking forward to it.

Supporting all this change in my role is tricky – I’m used to having to be the sorting our person and now I’m having to learn to not do that and to point people to other people. I am no longer Ms Fix It. SO I’m hoping to get some mentoring from a woman called Tara who did ace work on our business plan wit me, for nothing, all as a volunteer. There is a fund available to support this so I’m hoping to be successful.

How can I not talk about the photo shoot! I was 34 on the 12th August and did not celebrate by shooting grouse but by getting all gussied up in a corset and having a house full of knickers, pop tunes, cake and lovely kind models, stylists, assistants, designers and photographers. Mikey Palmer really took one for the team by coming and taking the photos, the fab fab fab Heidi from http://www.cherryonthecake.org.uk made us some gorgeous cupcakes as props and the sun even shone for a bit. It was a really great day, we did some inside my house and some in the garden, with a nice little tea party theme emerging. Some of the pics are up online at http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk now, the one on the front page of Leanne is so gorgeous. Other pics will be used for press and still others will go onto the site in the near future. We had great fun getting made up and posing and with comments like, ‘it’s the most fun you can have with your trousers off and your pants on’ from the models, I was very reassured that they’d had a good day. The cakes were delicious and the whole day – though knackering – was a brilliant way for me to spend my birthday.

After the 12th, I was shattered, Della was shattered and with it being Ramadan and the women not wanting to come to training, we decided to have a proper shut down. We were closed from the 19th to the 31st August for a much needed break. I ended up having to work for parts of about half the days I was off, and Della did two full days as well, but it was all about stuff we felt couldn’t be ignored. I think we both feel we had a reasonably good break, and I’m enormously grateful to my lovely PA Madalina who fielded phone calls and emails for me while writing her dissertation!

I’ve had a chance to do a few more ‘me’ things recently, which has been lovely. I went on a bike maintenance course provided by Sustrans http://www.sustrans.org.uk so I can change my own brakes (even though it would be easier with three hands, I can do it) and things now, and went to the lovely Beautiful Days Festival. Last Saturday I also went to the local Pulse Festival. I know Olly who is the bass player in subgiant, the band who headlined – he’d offered us a stall there but we weren’t in a position to accept it this year so I went along to support anyway. I caught up with the Southampton Lush team and Olly and sincerely hope that Sunnyfields host it again next year so there can be another one. It was brilliant. It wasn’t exactly and entirely a non work day – I took pants to show people and spent some time with a colleague from Community Action Hampshire – but pants are my life now and so it was still happy lovely fun times.

Our volunteering team has been shifting and changing a bit recently. A number of our volunteers are students and do the academic year affects availability. We’ve still got Aga, Debs, Madalina and Maryam coming on site regularly, but are about to start advertising for new roles. We’ve worked out that in addition to the above we need…

PA (5 x half days per week)
Office Manager (we need this full time but it can be shared between two people)
Admin/HR/Dispatch/Housekeeping (we need the equivalent of two people full time but this can be made up of lots of people doing various shifts. Minimum commitment 2 x half days per week per volunteer)
Fund-raising prospecting (6-8 hours per week)
Sales/Supplier prospecting(6-8 hours per week)
Web test and content upload (7 hours per week)
Systems Administration (3 hours per week)

there may be more but these are what we know for sure now. If you’ve some time you’d like to offer, we’d love to hear from you! All positions are onsite at our accessible Southampton premises, and there is nearly always cake. Email us at time@whomadeyourpants.co.uk

I think that’s about it for now. We’re building stock levels of our lovely Aimee pants as even through Ramadan, some of the women have come in. The pants really are pretty just look here

I’ll try to write before another month is out but next week I’ll be at Clarence House and the week after at the Lush event. It will be soon, promise!

Hope you are all well and staying dry!

Becky

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(oh my god – I have made clicky links! Yay me!)

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We don’t want your money. Yet. (New pants, special offer. Woo!)

Right folks, I’ve been excitedly talking about our new collection for a while now and we hope (the red threads are apparently drying after dyeing. We were told to expect them end last week and they are not here yet…) to have some of everything made by the end of the 11th August. It’s my birthday on the 12th so how wonderful would it be if they were all ready and everything was good! Fingers crossed. The collection proper is due for launch during September (the sewing team will be observing Ramadan August 9 to September 11 so we may be down on attendance) but we’ll be building stocks up until then.

We’re delighted to be able to say that we are, from today, accepting pre orders for our new collection. Just like Jasmine, they are £10 a go, and P&P for one or two pairs (two is the most we can get in the box) is £2.50. We’re not taking your money (yet), just your orders. We’ll add your orders to our database when the pants are ready, send you an email and (if appropriate) a discount code, and bob’s your auntie, all you’ll need to do is log in and pay.

My very bad photos below will show you the very first attempts at pants in each colour – they will all be finished with a hand stitched flat flower bow centre front, scarlet on red, pink on purple and purple on black.

Everyone who ordered pants last time will be eligible for a 20% discount, and everyone who orders via twitter or facebook will be too. All you need to do is email pantsfutures@whomadeyourpants.co.uk with the following info

Title
First Name
Last Name
Address
Postcode
Contact number
Size
Choice of colour
How many pairs you want
Have you ordered before?
What was the special secret twitter offer secret code?
What was the secret special facebook offer secret code?

Very bad photos here ravishing red pants, perfectly pretty purple, brilliant beautiful black

Let me know what you think folks. Feel free to pass on the offers to friends.. spread the love

Becky

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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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