Social Enterprise – ‘whomadeyourpants?’
‘whomadeyourpants?’ is a worker co-operative empowering marginalised women by providing employment, education, social and community space. It has set out to achieve this by manufacturing low impact pants, for women, men, and, eventually, children. It aims to show that sweatshops and the conditions they allow are not the only way to make great underwear, and to show people that they can have traceability in clothes as well as food.
For the founder, Becky John, early involvement with Amnesty International, being part of a life changing video concerning the murder of a young woman on the way home from a sweat shop in Central America, a desire to purchase ethically made clothes and a lifelong love of underwear were all contributory factors to creating her dream. “There are amazing women who, for lots of reasons, can't get ‘normal’ jobs. We think these women have a lot to give.”
Becky knew what she wanted to achieve, broadly how she wanted it to work, but basically kept finding herself caught up in the day-to-day working extremely long hours and sometimes unable to look at the bigger picture.
Robert Bentley, Managing Director of WPL, has acted as a mentor and often helped Becky focus on the more critical and urgent actions she needed to undertake whilst Tara Lovejoy worked with Becky on her business plan.
“It’s odd but I can’t actually remember a time when Robert wasn’t around to help”, Becky explained, “he has been fantastic.”
“Helping to turn a dream into reality is very much a part of what we do”, explained Robert, “and when it is something that is really going to make a difference to people, as is the case with Becky’s dream, then we are very proud to have been able to contribute. We aimed to help put the ‘enterprise’ back into ‘social enterprise’, as the business goals are equally important if Becky’s dream is going to survive into the future.”
‘whomadeyourpants?’ is now up and running with the first students expecting to have mastered the industrial sewing machines and be proficient enough to sell their work by the beginning of December – just in time for Christmas.