3. Whomadeyourpants

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Coop Name: Whomadeyourpants N° of Employees: 2
City: Southampton N° of Members: 6
Country: United Kingdom Year of formation: 2008
Website: http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk/
About this coop:

whomadeyourpants is an English worker co-operative involved in the manufacture of underwear from fabric offcuts.

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Let me introduce myself… I’m Becky, the founder and Managing Director of whomadeyourpants?, a social enterprise making absolutely gorgeous pants from perfect fabrics left over from manufacturers, right here in the UK. We do this as a means to provide jobs for women who would struggle to get jobs otherwise.

I left my last (well-paid but boooooring) job and started this business because I wanted ethics but I also really, really wanted gorgeousness. At that time.. well.. the ethical pants on sale were a little bit… yoghurt weavy. The ethics were all about the fibres, but I could see there were different ways to get the ethics into knickers. And I wanted lace and SCREAMING colours, at that. And so that’s what we do. You know those stretchy lace shorts that you can get? Well, that’s what we make. In purple, black, red, green, blue, ivory… gorgeous.

You might be thinking, that’s all very well and good, but what on earth do pants have to do with the 2012 co-operative year. We are set up as a worker co-op so that we can be owned by our members, by those affected by the way we work, and not external folks. We make a product that makes people smile. Our name most often makes people laugh and then ask themselves a question, sometimes. We make a product that is unashamedly gorgeous.

When I talk to the women we work with here, I get the same feeling – the passion, the hope, the joy that can come from people having their own income, their own money to spend. I love that by buying something that is, in itself, a gorgeous thing, good can be done. I don’t think that ethics have to be dull or hair shirty. I think they ought to be celebratory. For me, finding a product that a whole load of people want to buy and making it in a great and positive way is a perfect solution. Business is a great way of providing a way for people to help themselves out of poverty. It’s an engine that can drive change. Right here, we’ve already seen two of our workers open their own bank accounts, and one is learning to drive. Another is paying for extra lessons for a child.

Every penny we take from selling pants goes into the business, into their training and wages, and into their families. We believe that everyone deserves a job, support to find one, and the independence that brings. We also believe in things being beautiful, radiant and joyous.

This is an excerpt from a blog written by Becky John for the Divine Chocolate website.

Author of this story
Becky John
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