Setting up business to save lives – with pants

Founder of Who Made Your Pants? Becky John used her love for lingerie and passion for human rights to create her underwear business and provide jobs for refugee women

Have you ever thought about who made your underwear? With her passion for human rights and her curiosity about the origin of her pants, Becky John, 35, set up Who Made Your Pants? to answer her own question.

‘For some women it’s lipsticks, others it’s getting their hair done but for me it’s all about underwear,’ says Becky. ‘If I’m wearing great underwear, it’s going to be a good day.’

From the age of 15, Becky has worked with Amnesty on several projects but it was on learning about a woman who was killed walking home from a sweatshop that she realized she had no idea where her beautiful underwear came from.

With that in mind, Becky launched Who Made Your Pants? on 1st December 2009, providing jobs for refugee women from the Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, while at the same time creating traceable, sustainable underwear for women in the UK.

With only seven permanent staff in Southampton, fitting their working hours around college classes and other commitments, Becky and her team still manage to produce a staggering 200 pairs of pants each day.

‘It’s incredible what we can achieve in a day,’ says Becky. ‘One woman will cut the pattern for the pants, another sews and so on until the last woman in the assembly line trims off all the loose threads. There’s a great sense of accomplishment.’

‘I would like my business to be a model for businesses in other countries around the world so that we can help women find work in safe and flexible environments,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t take much but it will change a woman’s life.’

Becky’s story features in the January issue of Marie Claire, out now.

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