Who made your pants?
That was the question posed by Becky John — social entrepreneur and founder of the ethical underwear brand of the same name — at a meeting of the Winchester & District Ladies Circle on June 10. In 2006, Becky came up with the idea of helping refugee women in the UK get work by producing gorgeous (and comfy!) pants; she set up a factory in Southampton in 2008 and now has eight women creating and shipping 200 parcels of beautiful pants to women around the world each month.
Becky's passion for both lingerie and creating a better and brighter future for women was evident at the meeting. Every element of production aims to be sustainable — from the use of leftover fabric from the big lingerie companies to the compostable boxes used to mail out the pants. The factory is a safe, women-only space; decisions are taken democratically; and Becky aims to give the women, who often have limited education and work experience, transferrable skills. "Many of these women are used to having things done to, for, and around them," she said. "They're used to being responsible for other people, but we're asking them to be responsible for themselves and the quality of their work." And the women are keen to succeed: As Samia, from Afghanistan, puts it: "For me, staying at home is not good. I enjoy coming to work, making friends and learning."
Questions and conversation flowed throughout the evening, covering topics like the best-selling colour for pants (black); marketing and sales strategies; the impact of Twitter on sales; and the best digital analytics platforms for small businesses. Becky isn't just making a little bit of difference to the world through pants; she's challenging the status quo and inspiring women wherever she goes!