Daphne Pfumojena is a self-confessed loyal big-knicker wearer. She’s also the brainchild behind BumBoos: a sustainable and ethically-made underwear label for women.
Born in Zimbabwe, Daphne moved to London in her teens. Lately, she has been bouncing between Bali and the UK, but spent last summer working in a hospital in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, because on top of everything else she does, Daphne is also a registered nurse.
It was there that she got the idea for BumBoos.
“I spent a weekend going around the island — which is not that big,” she jokes, “searching for cotton knickers in my size. My boyfriend casually said, ‘You love big knickers and you can’t find what you are looking for; why don’t you just make them yourself?’”
“I had time. I worked during the week only; summer days are long and the island is beautiful, so I hung at the beach sketching ideas. By sketching ideas I actually mean drawing stickmen and doing lots of writing, hoping my tailor was going to understand what I meant. My drawing is really pathetic!”
As it turned out, her stick figures translated beautifully.
The ethos behind Daphne’s underwear is simple: plant-based fabrics, plant-based dye and simple designs.
“Bamboo is a highly sustainable plant,” she says. “It’s fast-growing, biodegradable, requires no fertiliser or pesticides for its cultivation and, when harvested, bamboo is cut, not uprooted, making it soil sustainable.”
Daphne believes her nursing background also influenced her choice to make underwear that promotes better health: not only is the soft cotton fibre produced from bamboo antibacterial, which reduces the risk of moisture-related infections (like thrush and the dreaded UTI), but natural dyes are better for your skin.
To make the underwear she designs, Daphne works closely with a natural dye farm in Gianyar, Bali, as well as with KamiLu Organics (meaning We Are Women in Balinese). The former is run by Andika, whom Daphne was first interested in collaborating with thanks to his emphasis on working organically with nature. The latter, KamiLu, is a small collective of female tailors and artisans run by a lady named Ami.
“Ami only employs women, as she wanted to create a work environment which encourages women to work without compromising life outside work,” explains Daphne. “At KamiLu, everyone is paid a fair wage and entitled to maternity leave. Overtime is not encouraged, as all four employees are mothers and are encouraged to have a work-life balance.”
When asked whether the design of her underwear was at all influenced by constantly getting wedgies (or “hungry bum” as it was more commonly known in her London university days), Daphne agrees that it is a complex female issue, but also had this to say:
“Like most women, I certainly have an issue with tehe representation of us women in the media. I would like to continue BumBoos in a way which reflects me and the women around me. I acknowledge I could never truly capture our diverse beauty as women – the spectrum is too broad – but I do hope BumBoos can grow to represent confidence and owning one’s body.”
Looking ahead, Daphne hopes to grow into 100 per cent natural dye and explore more sustainable fabrics, such as tencel, and continue to be as transparent as possible in the way she creates and produces. To shop her magnificent range of underwear, which you can do knowing everyone in the supply chain is being looked after, check out the store on her website here, and follow her work on the ‘gram.