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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Crowdfunding, cupcakes and NEW PANTS!

Hello there pants fans!

We hope you’re well and enjoying what you can of this changeable weather. We had lollies at lunchtime for two days last week and enjoyed sitting near the river that runs past the back of our tiny factory.

It’s Ramadan now and that means that our team are off – we made a joint decision that fasting + hot weather + machines with knives, blades and needles probably = A Bad Idea. The factory is not silent though. Our brilliant designer Emma and our superviser Nisha have been sewing away, perfecting the design and method for our very next style – we’re launching it THIS WEEK so depending on when you get this it might already be on sale on the wesbite. It’s a really comfortable jersey short, edged with staggeringly good English lace, all stuff that would have been wasted had we not swooped. There is more precision involved in the making of this than our current shorts – it takes around 3 times as long to make – and we’re using it to teach attention to detail, focus and concentration.

We’re also excited to be launching a crowdfunding project this week and if you like the way we empower women through work, we’d love your support, if you can help us.

We’re raising money to buy a new sewing machine and training materials – we are way away from making profit, have less than zero spare cash, and it’s the only way we can move ahead. We develop skills by developing new products, and we need a new machine to teach a new skill. Fundamentally though what we are teaching is versatility, precision and attention to detail – core employability skills. We’re just doing it, as we do with everything, through the power of pants.

We need to raise just £6000 and we know that this can be done by just 105 people.

The campaign is live here http://buzzbnk.org/wmyp Pledges start from £0 to be a cheerleader to £15 for which the kind person gets a thank you card and discount code with various intermediate levels all the way up to £300 for which the kind person gets hand delivery of pants to London, tea at the Royal Society for the Arts, a limited edition shirt, new pants, current pants, a thank you card…

I’m dreadful at asking for money but that’s basically what I’m doing and I hope you don’t mind. We love what we do, hope you do too, and hope you’ll forgive us the ask.

Hope you’ve managed to see some sunshine and that you love your new pants!

Becky and the Who Made Your Pants? Team

News in brief…
Becky had a great time at our stall at Winchester Science Festival and was entertained by how many people bought pants, and then came and showed her them, Della has bought a ukelele and got very excited about the Tiger Feet dance in the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Amy has landed herself a part time job with our bookkeeper so we’re learning how to share her, Nisha won a competition to to name a cupcake and won 48 mini ones, and Jackie has been swimming in the sea and sunning herself at Lee on Solent

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In the summertime….

Hello there pants fans!

It’s been another wet and windy week here in Southampton… we’re cheering ourselves up by planning exciting things but we need all the help we can get, eh – summer, where ARE you?

This week, commencing the 16th, is going to be our last week of production for a few weeks. It’s Ramadan, and this means our team will be fasting. As we use machinery and knives, and it’s warm, we’ve agreed that the production area will shut down briefly. They’ve told us about how it is in different countries -in Dubai, everywhere is air conditioned, and in many countries, people sleep in the afternoon and then break their fast with dates, and work in the evenings, after dark. For us, the management in the office, the time our team take off at Ramadan gives us a time to plan and review. The work we do around employability is not done quickly and so we’re always looking for ways to add more and teach better.

One exciting thing that we are setting up is a crowd funding project around buying machinery and training for our upcoming new style. As some of you may have read before, we work with women who were not lingerie makers when they came to us and so we develop skills gently and carefully. Our next style will introduce new skills and techniques. We’ll be crowdfunding with Buzzbnk (pronounced Buzzbank) http://www.buzzbnk.org. The corwd funding model is really interesting – if you’ve not heard of it it’s basically us saying what we want to do, how much it will cost, and then people who want to see that happen, people commuting funds to it in exchange for the promise of something. So, we’ll say, for example, if you commit £15, you get one of the first pairs of pants that rolls off the line. It’s an investment in developing an idea you like. We like it!

This coming weekend – the 20th – 22nd, we will have a stall at the first every Winchester Science Festival. We’re very excited to be part of this – we are official supporters – as it has a stated commitment to supporting and promoting women in science. The 21st July is the anniversary of the last ever shuttle landing back on Earth, in 2011 – we think that every little girl should be able to dream of being an astronaut, with as much chance as her brother of that becoming real. If you’re local, see you there?

Until next time – thanks as ever for supporting us

Big love,

Becky and the Who Made Your Pants? Team

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Nice weather for ducks. And Holidays.

Hello there pants fans!

Hope you’re keeping dry and cheery in this lovely *cough* summer weather?

Things are going well for us here at Pants Central. The impact of our mention in the Guardian Weekend magazine in continuing, happily. So much so that we’ve had a phone call from the Royal Mail….They rang up saying, er, you’ve been filling up all our post boxes…

During the week after our mention in the Guardian Weekend magazine we took an unprecedented amount of orders – we liked it, please feel free to continue! – but we’ve been growing slowly so we didn’t have a system on place to cope with posting so many. So, you’ve got to love this, our smashing volunteer Amy (who recently got a first in her maths degree!) was loading up our Giant Blue Wheely Suitcase with orders and trekking out each day to do a little walking tour of the area, taking in all the local post boxes… The fact that, as you have seen, our boxes have our name on meant we were easy to track down! It’s been a good thing – the nice man from Royal Mail is going to come to see us and we’re hoping to get something a little bit more formal set up!

We’re also delighted that we’ve been able to put more pins into our ‘pants map’ including one in the island of Tiree. Our team love knowing where their hard work gets sent to.

With summer in full swing, and with Ramadan, an important time for our team approaching, it’s holiday season. Della, our Head of Operations (a grand title meaning ‘the person that makes it all work) is off on a long awaited holiday for the next two weeks. Hawa is looking forward to her trip back to Somalia, and her children to their trip to Sweden where they have family. Samia has visitors from Afghanistan and there are excited conversations about it all. We don’t ask too many questions of our team about ‘before UK’ as we don’t want to stir up difficult memories – the reality is, people don’t leave their home country and flee if they’re safe and well there. So to hear our team being excited about seeing their families again is a real pleasure.

That’s about it for this week. Hope you have a good week and thanks so much for ordering these smashing pants – we hope you love them as much as we do.

Big love,

Becky and the team

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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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