Last year, we invited our Positive Pants Club (that's you lovely lot!) to quiz our Founder & CEO Sarah with your top questions about running a sustainable business. After a busy few months of Christmas sales and markets, we’re embracing a calmer January and we've had time to sit down with Sarah to ask her anything with some new questions and a detox cuppa!
Over to Sarah……
What is the most important lesson running a small business has taught you?
"I don’t think you’re ever prepared for the amount of work it’s going to be. I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for anything, but it is tough at times. Having something you’re passionate about makes a huge difference to staying motivated, so I would definitely recommend incorporating a cause or issue into your business – plus you can have a positive impact that way too. Running a business can also be lonely, so surrounding yourself with people who understand what you’re doing helps hugely too. I’m part of an amazing group of local women who are also running small businesses and they are a real help and support for me.
When you’re actually running a small business, I think agility is one of the greatest skills you need. There are so many challenges you face – and we’ve really seen that in the past few years – so being able to constantly learn and adapt is key."
What is the most valuable skill you learnt when you were younger and how does that serve you now?
"I think resilience is key when running a small business. I really learnt that when I broke my leg while running the marathon in Uganda and spent the next 15 months on crutches and in a boot. That changed everything for me, but really taught me the power of just keeping going and how it really is just one step at a time to achieve something.
Beyond that, caring about something and being motivated by equality and making a difference have been huge drivers for me. I would also say thoroughness and attention to detail are important skills when running an ‘ethical’ business and particularly fed into our high B Corp score. Good communication skills are also important when you’re trying to do something different as a business too, because it’s important to be able to explain that to people."
What are the greatest sustainability challenges for Y.O.U?
"At the moment our two main areas of focus around sustainability are finding a biodegradable alternative to elastane and also setting up a full fibre-to-fibre recycling programme to improve our overall circularity. Those are both really important to me, but on a broader level it’s tough to build a fashion business that is actively trying to discourage consumption. There’s a bigger systemic challenge we need to face in this industry and de-growth is key, but when you’re starting that you’re fighting all the traditional measures of success and ways of doing things, so it’s really hard."
I’m a small business owner too! How can I stock Y.O.U Underwear in my shop?
"Our biggest challenge is our low margins, but we’d love our underwear to be stocked in other shops, so please just get in touch with us at email@example.com."
What's the bestselling Y.O.U product and colour?
"Our best seller has consistently been our black bralette. Black is the most popular colour in all styles, although our vibrant Mara prints are also very popular, particularly the red and black. In our men’s range, navy blue and dark grey have both been great sellers, in addition to black."
How else can I show my support to Y.O.U underwear (apart from buying pants?)
"For a small business, every action really helps, whether that is liking, sharing or commenting on our posts on social media or signing up to our Positive Pants email newsletter (we also plant a tree for every sign up!). In particular, recommending us to friends and family is great to help us spread to the word, as is leaving a review if you’ve bought a product or visited our shop. You can do this on our website or straight into Google here https://g.page/youunderwearUK/review?kd
If you've got a question for Sarah, feel free to ask anything and she’ll do her best to answer in a future blog. Pop your questions in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org