Becky (English with Medieval Studies 1998) outside her company Who made your pants?
Pants business laced with success
The founder of a social business which employs women refugees to make pants for the UK market has been listed as an ‘innovator’ in the 2012 Independent on Sunday Happy List.
Who Made Your Pants? was started by alumna Becky John (English with Medieval Studies 1998) four years ago. She gave up her job as a Business Manager at the University of Southampton to start it and give shoppers the chance to buy products which were not produced in so-called sweatshops, where pay and conditions are very poor.
Based in Southampton, the factory uses left over materials from the lingerie industry for its underwear creations but does not scrimp on design. The garments themselves are made by women refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia and the Sudan. As well as a job, the company offers staff the chance to learn English and gain other qualifications.
Becky said: “I founded Who Made Your Pants? because I wanted to show consumers they can still have design-led gorgeous knickers, without the need for them to be produced in sweatshops.
“Equally important for the company is empowering our women staff through work – we give them the employability skills and watch them grow and flourish.
“We are very proud of what we have achieved already and I’m really pleased that all our hard work has been recognised by The Independent on Sunday. “
The newspaper’s describes this, its 5th Happy List as detailing 100: “outstanding people whose volunteering, caring, fund-raising, mentoring, charity founding, or selflessness makes Britain a more contented, better-adjusted, supportive, and happier place.”
Last year Becky was invited to join the Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and this year is one of the RSA's featured social businesses in their Spotlight on Social Entrepreneurship programme.
Her company has also been featured recently on ITV news in the Southampton area.
Date: 24 May 2012