Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

So what’s a Social Enterprise then?

At the WOW Festival over the weekend, I must have said the following words 500 times.

Who Made Your Pants? is a social business. We exist specifically to create jobs for women who are refugees. We do that by turning perfect fabrics left over from big underwear factories into new pants in our tiny factory in Southampton. And we’re called Who Made Your Pants? so we tell you who made ours.

If you live in the social enterprise world, you might wonder why I talk about us as a social business and not a social enterprise.

If you don’t live in the social enterprise world – and there are bajillions more of you who don’t than who do – it’s my strong suspicion that right now you’re thinking, what the hell is a social enterprise and has it got anything to do with Captain Kirk.

First off, sorry, no it doesn’t. But to save any disappointment, here’s a picture of him anyway.

CapnKirk

And, incidentally, enterprise just means ‘a project, or undertaking, a business or a company’ according to Google.

The words ‘social enterprise’ have no legal meaning. They aren’t a badge or a stamp or a standard or a sign we’re in a club or gang. They don’t guarantee any standards, behaviour, codes of practice or anything. But what they tend to mean is ‘a business which trades for social good’. These businesses will measure their profits and losses like any other business – if you don’t know how much money you’ve got you’re going under, no matter how lovely your principles are – but they will also measure their impact on society, or the environment, or both. They will often be set up specifically to challenge or change something. We set up to create jobs for women, and we do that by making pants. We could be making tables to make this happen, the product doesn’t matter.

Pants to make Jobs

Some social enterprises, like us, are visible to you. Others – arguably the majority of them – are visible to ‘behind the scenes’ folks and are organisations which provide services or training like the wonderful Unthank Family Centre supporting families in Norfolk, or the Smart Schools Council which aims to help all young people to play an active, conscious, democratic role in their communities, or Bright Shadow – a fab theatre company on a mission is to enable people with dementia and those affected by it to live well and to thrive.

What we all have in common is that we see a problem that we want to address and we want to do that using trade. I love social enterprises.We might want our economy to be different but the world we live in today has us buying and selling and shopping and consuming and that isn’t going to change any time soon. So the idea what we can use that power – harness it and drive change with it – well. To me that’s a no brainer.

If you ever think about starting a business for social good do check out The School for Social Entrepreneurs (they are recruiting now for the Scale Up Programme which I was on last year. IT’S AMAZING)

And if you want to genuinely put your money where your beliefs are, check out some of our favourite social enterprises:

Elvis and Kresse for their LOVELY bags upcycled from firehoses

Divine Chocolate because YUM

Our stationery supplier The Green Stationery Company

and there are tons more in the Social Enterprise UK directory

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