Modern mums will know that staying active during pregnancy is actually a healthy thing. However, this mindset wasn’t always present.
In the past, many expecting mums were told not to be active and to rest often. As such, today’s grandparents may sometimes push their ideals on their daughters and daughters-in-law.
The co-founders at Ruuji know this very well, and it’s something they’re trying to dispel as a clothing brand that caters to prenatal and postnatal mums.
Founded by cousins Helisa and Joslyn, Ruuji is a local athleisure brand for mums that they describe as “Lululemon, but for maternity”, and at a lower cost.
Conceived while breastfeeding
Throughout the course of her pregnancy, Helisa found herself purchasing countless pieces of clothing to accommodate her varying size, especially bras.
She also found that common nursing bras in the market were either too expensive or didn’t provide enough support needed for growing breasts.
While breastfeeding her first baby, Helisa had an eureka moment.
“Why don’t we have a thicker waist brand that’s similar to sports bras, while still having the same functions of a nursing bra?” she wondered.
This initial idea alone eventually culminated in the whole Ruuji brand, which focuses on providing comfortable athleisure pieces for mums.
From there, they started applying the same line of thinking to various wardrobe staples.
As Helisa explained, a lot of mums tend to want to wear comfortable clothing. At the same time, however, many pregnant women might not want to spend too much maternity wear that they might not wear in a few months.
Thus, leggings are a common solution mums lean towards, as they are easily accessible and can stretch with the mums.
“Although leggings and tights are a common piece of garment pregnant women wear, there were none that catered specifically for working out and staying active [for mums] back then,” the co-founders shared.
Leggings that aren’t made with maternity in mind often lose their elasticity and aren’t able to return to their original form, which makes them unsustainable.
“Hence, Ruuji came up with our own maternity leggings, which I am still wearing my first pair of,” Helisa announced. “We really stand by what we have produced in terms of quality.”
Dispelling the myth
Rather than just activewear, Ruuji finds the term athleisure to be more encompassing of what they do.
“We want to highlight that our products are a lifestyle-based product, i.e., mothers can wear them on a day-to-day basis while running errands, working out, or even just lounging at home,” the team explained.
Comfort and multifunctionality are thus two key features that Ruuji aims to provide. In essence, they do not want their products to be limited to just maternity—their leggings’ elasticity mean they can still be worn postpartum, and their nursing bras can still be a sports bra after breastfeeding.
“It lengthens the lifeline of the product,” they said about the multifunctionality.
So far, the co-founders believe that it’s still very rare to find their kind of maternity athleisure in Malaysia. It’s a more popular concept in Western parts of the world.
They believe part of this is because of the Asian myths surrounding pregnancy, whereby many still believe that expecting mums shouldn’t be too active.
“The importance of staying active is also a focus we aim to educate expecting mothers on as this is contrary to the myth that expecting mothers should minimise movements during their pregnancy for the wellbeing of the baby,” the co-founders explained.
“Of course, active not to say like you have to do CrossFit during your pregnancy,” Joslyn added. “But staying active is actually a very healthy thing for both the baby and the mum herself.”
With this goal in mind, Ruuji has worked with gynaecologists to show expecting mums basic workouts they can do.
The brand has also worked with confinement centres to educate mums on the importance of having proper, supportive nursing bras.
Growing with the mums
In order to ensure that their maternity athleisure wear would be able to grow with mums, Helisa and Joslyn had gone through materials with a variety of fabric compositions while doing R&D for Ruuji.
“It is not sufficient to only fit a material that is stretchable to accommodate the expecting mum’s growing baby bump,” they mentioned. “We put heavy emphasise on finding a material that would also retract after being stretched.”
After settling on the ideal material, Ruuji finally launched its RuujiMum Collection with sizes ranging from S to XL in 2019.
However, the team later realised that there were a number of mums who were interested in their products, but had a smaller build.
As such, Ruuji listened to the feedback, and has since released its RuujiMum Petite collection that accommodates petite mums.
The RuujiMum Collection includes maternity leggings, hoodies, jumpers, bras, long-sleeve tops, as well as tank tops. Most of the tops come with zippers for easy access during breastfeeding.
Bras, hoodies, jumpers, and nursing tank tops are priced at RM129, the full leggings at RM119, and the 7/8-length leggings and tank tops at RM109.
Meanwhile, the petite collection includes biker shorts (RM99) and a mid-support sports bra (RM129).
Strolling down the road
While Ruuji is focused on maternity wear for now, the co-founders explained that they draw inspiration from the relevant struggles women face in different stages of their lives.
“As the brand goes, we do want to tackle, for example, infancy also,” Joslyn brought up. “And then, eventually into unisex [products]. But woman-focused still.”
With that said, they likely won’t be going into creating baby clothes anytime soon. If they do, though, it’ll certainly take on the same Ruuji ethos, meaning it’ll consist of wardrobe staples that go back to basics.
Although Ruuji’s clothings are designed in-house, their collections so far have not been manufactured in Malaysia.
“However, we are planning to have our products 100% locally-manufactured,” they said. “In fact, our upcoming Cotton Collection will be 100% locally-manufactured.”
Helisa and Joslyn didn’t have experience with fashion prior to Ruuji, having come from accounting and the legal industry respectively, so they explained that Ruuji’s pieces have been designed from their hearts.
“It’s what we wish we had,” they expressed.
And it’s what they now wish every Malaysian mum can have, too.
“One thing that we always want to remind mothers is that, ‘hey, you gotta take care of yourselves too’,” the two co-founders shared. “You gotta love yourself, though I understand that your priorities have all been diverted to your baby, even while you are still pregnant.”
Featured Image Credit: Ruuji