I arrived in London on Thursday night and on Friday, August 2nd, morning I took the train to Southampton to go see Becky John, Founder of Who Made Your Pants?. I was happy to see a bit of the country too, since I slept in the train when I arrived in London I was only now able to see some of the landscapes and buildings. The houses are just so different than back home in Austria! All the brick buildings!
Arrived in Southampton Central I took a Taxi to the Fairways House in the Industrial Estate Southampton where Who Made Your Pants? are located.
Becky answered the door with the question: "What is your opinion about very tiny dogs?" - apparently a cutie Chihuahua was a frequent visitor in the office! He barked, I frowned but we both survived. Becky led me to their break room and returned shortly after finishing some tasks in her office. The first thing I noticed: "That's my bum on your wall!"
Because in the break room they have positive and negative customer feedback hanging, and they printed out my blog review about WMYP. So, that's a weird feeling, going somewhere you never've been to before but there, on the wall, is your butt and says hi.
And then the tour started!
As my visit was during Ramadan the Team wasn't working, but Becky showed me through the whole process of lacey panty making.
In every word she says you can really feel the energy, love and hope she puts into her business. She is truly devoted to her job - you should really check out her awesome TEDxTalk!
I'm led through the rooms and it's just exciting. Seperate rooms for cutting the laces, fabric storage (Becky "I could just eat that lace!", sewing area, break room, spare room to be able to pray, kitchen, Becky's office. Although the area isn't too big every step in the process of making awesome knickers for you has got it's own designated room.
Every door is labeled and there are signs to read everywhere. "A lot of the women we work with are used to the fact that stuff is done TO them, but they are not involved in it. I want them to explore their environment, to communicate, to DO."
on the cutting tables are besides other sewing stuff these cute knickers <3
Between cutting and sewing is the first check located the knickers have to pass: Everything ok? no weird cuts, edges, everything the right way round? Seam allowances? Only if the lace is perfect they can go on to the sewing room where they are turned into lovely curve hugging pieces of glory.
in the end they are trimmed and get checked again. Hmmm, do you recognize that colour? Could it be that it's something VERY NEW? *hint*
The packaging room and the storage room are still full of fresh seconds sale orders, new orders coming in and orders waiting for their new owners to collect them in person - like I did with my batch of seconds! My batch of Seconds contains Aimee in Beautiful Black, Perfectly Pretty Purple Dark [I'm wearing these right now - lovely!], Shocker and Sweet Like Chocolate / Lime in Size UK 10. Since I ordered my first two black ones in Size UK 12 and they were a bit too big I'm happy that I now have a well fitting basic black one too!
Becky says: "A lot of women say they buy their knickers one size bigger in order to be comfortable and avoid itching elastics. But since our pants don't have seams with elastic threads to hold the shape they won't cut in - so you don't need to size up."
True that - my 99cm hips are very happy in UK 10 WMYP? knickers.
The Seconds Sale was truly amazing if you want to stock up on your WMYP on a budget. Becky says herself that she's very perfectionist about her pants - so most of the faults the seconds contain aren't even visible to the customer if you don't actually search for them. It certainly did take me a while to find the mistakes in my batch!
After meeting Becky in person I understand why all the pants have got so very awesome names: Becky is just a very awesome and creative person with a lot of awesome ideas. My alltime favourite name must be "Here be Dragons" for a Welsh colour batch, hers is "Bonfire of the panities".
On the walls are signs, instructions and nice messages everywhere. Next to my bum on the wall (still giggling about that) are a lot of basic words in different languages (Somali, Arabic, Dutch...) like Apple, Daughter, Pants and of course Sewing Machine.And there are also a lot of whiteboards where you can have a quick check what's on the menu for this working week: Which pants are to be made? How many pants did they make last week? How many pants had to be pulled because there were minor faults? Etc etc, very interactive and everything is so colourful.
Instructions which materials to use for each and every pair of pants are explained in nice sample sheets on the wall.
Oh, and there is an awesome world map and a map of the UK with pins to show where in the world WMYP? pants were already shipped. Becky says: "I love to hear back from customers telling me where they took their knickers with them. They already were inside the gates of Buckingham Palace and met Astronauts!" - and btw, I wore them when I saw open heart surgery. FOR SCIENCE!
After Lunch I gave Becky a hand in packing/shipping some orders. So, if you got a package of pants with a very crooked handwritten address - that maybe was me :D. And I got to see some glimpses of new stuff - I can say, be excited! Great things to come.
The sight of so much pretty lace made me swoon - as well as the fact that through this lace were created jobs makes me hope, and sometimes hope out of lace is exactly what you need.
Becky, THANK YOU for creating jobs out of pants and the mostest awesomestest brilliant knickers on earth. It was a pleasure to meet you and I'm looking forward to meeting the team one day!