Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

I’ve stopped shaking now.

Hello everybody and welcome to this, possible one of the happiest blog posts I’ve ever written. It’s been an immensely busy and productive few weeks, hence me not being here to write. Goodness, apart from a tiny little post at the end of June, I’ve not written since May! So much to report. Where shall I start? At the very beginning?

On the 31st of May, I opened the door of my house to Emma Kidd, a brilliant and experienced lingerie product designer and developer, who left the trade because of a lot of the ethics and what she saw. She had contacted me in November last year off the back of a blog post we’d had posted on Ethical Junction, saying she loved what we were doing and could she help. We’d talked for a while, and arranged that she would come and visit and have a look around. And so, on the 31st, she stepped off a train and into whomadeyourpants? land.

As you’ll know, we’ve had some issues about production – quality has been inconsistent at times and we’ve had troubles with machines. Emma took one look at the place and our design and with her experienced eye, spotted a bunch of things we can improve in quick step short time to make our quality better and our productivity leap. She’s back again today, and thanks to some Southampton City Council funding can come back a few more times. We have a GORGEOUS new design (look here. http://twitgoo.com/1790z9 You’ll have to lean your head to the right as I can’t work out how to rotate the photo – doh!) and it’s easy and quick and gorgeous and has just the right amount of challenge for the women to be able to really own it. It’s perfect. Emma, we love you.

There’s a whole lot more new going on too. We have some new trainees – so many of our went off to have gorgeous babies or were sick, we had to recruit fast. Some of the new women already have skills, which is ace, as they are showing our existing women new ways to work and inspiring them. It’s fab.

I actually took some leave, sort of, in mid June. Apart from the fact that I came in on the 16th to speak to a broadsheet journalist (the article isn’t out yet so can’t say who) and then went off and chaired a Women’s Forum meeting on the 17th. But I had a fab solstice day, digging up my garden and clearing rubble. It was lovely working in the sun, getting tan lines ( I want to be more stripy. Animals have more than one colour on at a time but people don’t. Not naturally at least. It’s horrifically unfair) and building a fab insect house out of old rotten tree stumps. A bee came and had a look straight away, which made me happy.

The first ever Co-operatives Fortnight started on the 17th June too, and I was invited to speak at Co-operatives South East AGM, which I happily did. On the day of an England game. In a room, with windows open, opposite a pub with doors and windows open. Interesting! I also spoke at a Co-operative Regional Membership event on the 5th July, at the Art House in Southampton, which was fun. I was very very proud to accept a Co-operatives UK 2010 award there – we were recognised by them for our contribution to Innovation, Creativity and Excellence. Sadly, I was not able to attend the Congress Dinner in Plymouth and accept the award in person due to admin error, but the lovely Ian Rothwell collected it for us and a pretty handmade plate has now made it, in one piece, to my office.

On a less glamourpuss note, we’ve realised that we really need some support with and for our admin team of volunteers. They are all fab and enthusiastic people who will all turn their hands to anything, and they deserve more time than I can give them in terms of help. I’m always rushing round at a million miles an hour doing 15 things at once and so it’s hard for them to ask if they just have a quick question. We advertised the volunteer post of Office and Volunteer Manager at both local Universities and through Southampton Voluntary Services, and we’ve had some great applicants. So far it looks like we’ve found a person for that post and also someone who can be a bit more PA type person for me. I generate huge amounts of admin and regularly spend half a day on it myself, and I need to be doing MD work (so I’ve been told) so we’re hopeful. Both women have agreed to come in tomorrow for a trial shift. Exciting! We’re looking for some support on bookkeeping too as our current, brilliant volunteer has to leave us. If you can help, please get in touch.

Let’s finish on a high. The reason for the headline this time round is not a song, nor a Sesame Street tribute. It’s just the truth. We’ve had some good funding news. £2000 from Southampton City Council, £3500 from the Hilden Charitable Fund, and then yesterday afternoon, I opened an envelope containing a cheque for £30,000. Look at all those zeroes!

£30,000. £30,000!

On seeing this, I let out an involuntary scream in the middle of the car park, and ran back into the building, terrifying two poor men in the process. I could barely open the door and just ran in screaming for Della. I was having trouble standing at this point, and when Della took the letter off me and read out that we’d been awarded £60,000 over three years, I actually slid down the wall I’d been leaning on and ended up on the floor. I don’t know how long I sat on the floor and I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or what. I couldn’t read the letter, I couldn’t even hold it I was shaking so much.

When I eventually calmed down (a bit) I cycled into town, via the lovely Allegra’s office for a special Allegra hug, and banked the cheque, and came on back to the offices where I had a mammoth adrenaline crash. It’s not really sunk in to be honest but it’s frankly astonishingly good news. It’s specifically to pay rent and a bit of salary for me – life saving. If I sit and think about it for more than a second I get all shaky again. The fact that someone believe in this, and me, so much that they are prepared to put that in is something I don’t know how to cope with.

But I’d like to learn, so if anyone else has £60k lying around, let me know, eh?


That’s all for today folks, sorry for the long radio silence but I hope you’ll agree I’m back with a blinking great bang 🙂

More soon



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And I’d like to thank…

The last week has disappeared out from under me and here we are, nearly Wednesday again, the official start of the weekend.I mean to write this last Friday but was frantically busy and then went out for a well earned night out seeing Subgiant at the Soul Cellar. Lots of dancing and jumping about which was just what I needed.

It seems that pants is on a bit of a roll at the moment. I’m nearly all moved into the new office, a few technological teething problems but I do seem prone to them. I was loaned a mobile internet doodah, which doesn’t work, and the printer can;t work with the new ‘puter without the drivers, which are online… but also on a CD which a kind friend has copied for me. But I have rows upon rows of lovely files all marked up and filing up with papers, a desk, stationary, in and out trays to help me be organised – bliss! That’s sounds a bit of a wierd sort of bliss I know, but it’s already making a difference. Today, for the first time, I sat at my desk and did a full afternoon of proper work – and it was wonderful.

One of the grants we’ve been awarded needs my attention this week. It was due to fund work which was scheduled to start now, but because of the delays last year, and other logistical things – like that there are still people in the rooms my landlords want to offer me – so that’s to be tackled tomorrow.  Good news though, I have finally got a nearly complete spreadsheet of all the women I am hoping to work with (info has been kept by me and various other people until now) and realised that about 20 women are in the process of having their Better Off At Work Calculations done. This is progress. Tomorrow I hope to work out some self employment and PAYE stuff with the help of the lovely Helen.

Speaking of the lovely Helen, there are so many people, that I am proud to call friends, without whom  this project would just not be happening and it feels like it’s about time to say thankyou. In no particular order…

Helen, for being my financial guru and being patient when I go blank

Jeff for having a go at pretty much anything

Gareth for mending web stuff in minutes and telling me he’s proud of me

Drew for the site and the dreams I’m entertaining of the next iteration

Gordon for hosting and answering questions when I’m panicking

Mr Stuff for being IT support

Russell for all the help, and the endless patience, and the listening ears.

Tom for design work.

Mark and Frank for the office and the help and advice

Roopa for being a ray of sunshine on a sparkly rainbow

Robert for being utterly sensible and for kicking me up the rear when I need it

Ian for the router

Clare W, Michelle M, Gadjie, Mark B, Gareth and The List for the very generous donations

Nigel Paice of electropuppy.com for the hope of the album and for not minding that I take ages to get back in touch

ScarletBlonde for the tour

Ethel for the offer of promotion

Sam at ethicsgirls for the reassurance, advice and light at the end of the tunnel

And I’m sure there are more but I’m already sounding worryingly like I’m at the Oscars. every single one of the people mentioned above has done something for nothing that they didn’t have to, and that I appreciate massively. You’re all stars.

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