Inspirational Woman: Becky John | Founder of Who Made Your Pants?

Becky-BWTell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently

I’m Becky John,  founder of Who Made Your Pants?, a social business creating jobs for women who are refugees by making and selling beautiful pants made from perfect fabrics left over from the underwear industry.

My life in retail started when I was eight, selling sweets in Bridgend Rugby Club Supporters shop during rugby matches. Since then I’ve worked in retail, retail management, business to consumer sales, business to business sales, University business start up, but alongside all of that I was always involved in human rights activism in one way or another. I’m now combining the two, running WMYP. I am fascinated by space and volunteer for both Winchester Science Festival and Winchester Science Centre. On sunny days, I love getting out into the Hampshire hills on my bike. I host a very silly Eurovision party every year (with bingo available to download from the WMYP website!) and I love cinema of most kinds – most recently I watched The Rocket, a film in the Lao language, but I’m also looking forward to Muppets Most Wanted.

I honestly can’t imagine not doing this!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Within the business, it’s been finding the time and the right support to allow me to focus on strategic growth, and sales and marketing, rather than being mired in operational detail. I’ve now got a fabulous, competent and innovative Office Manager with bucket loads of commercial experience working with me and things are starting to take off.

Personally, it’s been undertaking two and a half years of counselling with a wonderful woman counsellor at Rape Crisis Southampton. The time I spent with her was life changing and what I learned there underpins everything I am, and everything I do, today.

WhoMadeYourPants_82-1What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

I’m so proud of Who Made Your Pants?, so it has to be that. When one of my team says, ‘this is my favourite place’ – it’s hard not to have a heart bursting moment. Two years after I started my business I was told that I had been known locally as ‘that crazy lady that wants to make pants’ – I’m pretty proud to have proved that we can, and that it really does make a difference to women’s lives.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I honestly can’t imagine not doing this!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

A few people have been stand out heroes. I love watching Shami Chakrabati in debates – she’s so calm, proportionate and objective, which really gets her point across with authority and dignity. Watching Mark Thomas, the political activist stand up comedian , as a teenager and beyond showed me that you can tell hard stories with humour, and more people listen.

What does the future hold for you?

Personally, I’m aiming for a Lotus Elise and then a Tesla Roadster! In terms of the business, we have a waiting list of seventy five women at the moment, with more women turning up regularly. There will be more jobs available  with Who Made Your Pants? in Southampton in the future, but also other Who Made Your…? businesses out there. There’s a lot of future to play in 🙂

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