In Conversation With Bundle 'n Joy: Possibly the First Ever Maternity Clothes Rental Scheme
Bundle 'n Joy is a rental subscription service for maternity wear, an area of the clothing industry that contributes immensely to textile waste due to the short length of time women actually need maternity clothes for. Rachel and Sophia shared their maternity wear during their pregnancies and decided to go into business with an idea seen nowhere else on the market at the time.
Their subscription service, Bundle 'n Joy, covers everything from loungewear to occasionwear to nursing wear. We chatted with co-founder Rachel Hung about the business, why maternity rental is so important for mamas to be, and for sustainability in general.
Bundle 'n Joy is also offering our friends £10 instant cashback upon subscription to any Bundle, which start from £35 per month. Just quote OWC10 on subscription to any bundle. (Valid August 2020 only).
What clothes did you find you most needed at the beginning, middle and end of pregnancy (or in each trimester)?
First and foremost, remember that every woman is different and that your body changes at different rates with pregnancy. As Givenchy said, 'The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress'. If you find that your own clothes do not fit you anymore, do wear clothing that fits and flatters, and most importantly of all, comfortable for your growing bump!
Generally, in the first trimester, most women find that they can fit into their normal clothes, especially those that have elastic waistbands. In the second trimester, the need for proper maternity wear becomes more important, including bras to support the enlarging breasts. The second trimester is also known as the 'honeymoon' period where most women feel at their best during their pregnancy and will go off on a babymoon or travel. Beautiful and well-made maternity clothes are highly recommended to show off your bump as you explore the world!
Towards the end of pregnancy, the importance of well-fitted garments and supporting waistbands are essential to continuously support your enlarging bump/breasts while allowing you to carry on doing everything you want to do comfortably. The third trimester is also popular for maternity photoshoots - finding the right clothes to project your image and bump is vital for this purpose. As your due date approaches, having clothes that are bump and nursing friendly is necessary to allow an easy transition to breastfeed your new baby.
Were there any particular fabrics that were your go-to, and why? Anything you couldn't deal with?
Cotton remains the most popular fabric in the industry, but we found that a blend of bamboo and cotton, like our Legoe Heritage Park Avenue dress, gives the extra softness; like sitting on clouds! A touch of spandex can also give the clothes that extra stretch for ultimate comfort, our Rachel Pally range is popular for this. Silk linings do wonders to regulate body temperature and the lush feeling; like our Legoe Heritage Indie dress. Finally, our premium jersey fabric range from Leota offers a smooth finish, like a second skin and best of all, iron-free!
You shared clothing with Sophia, but had either of you discovered particular garments that were readily available, and similarly not at all available in shops? And was this what sparked your direction for the collections you have?
Fast fashion is always available; brands that offer a maternity range are cheap and plentiful, but not well made and of poor quality. What we wanted as professional working women, was well-made items suitable for the boardroom and yet comfortable, and could go the mile in accommodating our growing bumps.
In the second trimester, you might require a size 10 but as you move into the third trimester, your sizing can move up to a 12 or higher. Having to purchase multiple items in different sizes is economically not viable and certainly for maternity wear that is only required while pregnant - nonsensical. While there are some fantastic British brands, including Isabella Oliver that we represent, access to other international brands is difficult. We carry brands from Australia, Europe and the USA - providing access to quality pieces that are otherwise hard to obtain.
What was the first step in building your collections?
We aim to provide premium maternity wear that is ideally sustainably manufactured. Our first step towards building the collection was targeting brands that have the same ethos. The entire idea of renting is to close the textile loop, where clothes that are not needed anymore can be reused, and when not usable anymore, properly recycled through our charity partners Traid and Dress for Success.
Our collection is aimed at all mothers-to-be, particularly those who are fashion-conscious, but who also care about the environment and understands the impact of the carbon footprint of textiles. Comfort is also high on our agenda; we aim to provide clothes that are beautiful to look at and wear, instilling confidence throughout pregnancy, yet comfortable to wear 24 hours a day.
You have different bundle types for rent. Did you come up with these based on your own experience, or from discussions with other mamas?
We continuously strive to improve and provide what our customers want. Our current bundles are iterations from different points of views from mamas, mamas-to-be, and also industry peers.
Do you foresee any issues in logistics? Did you research other rental models?
The biggest issue is postal as that is beyond our control and flatly in the control of postal services. Balancing the need of prompt delivery with postage costs is important. Rental models all face the same issue though unless it's a face-to-face pick up/drop off. We do offer this service, and as a yay! to reduce the carbon footprint of travel, customers get an extra discount of their monthly bundle price if a face-to-face pick up/drop off is arranged instead.
You also support specific causes. Could you explain why you chose to support The NCT, Dress For Change and Traid?
The NCT is the UK's biggest charity for parents and both Sophia and I have benefited greatly from their services. We would like to give back what we can to this amazing institution.
Traid is a charity working to stop clothing waste, through tackling disposal, production and consumption. This circular and sustainable approach is the core ethos of our company and we are proud to support them.
Dress for Success is a not-for-profit organisation that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, including professional attire. We want our clothes to do just that - empower and instill confidence in women - whatever the shape of their body, to face the world head-on with poise and aplomb.
You champion other issues within the maternity realm, such as keeping fit, disposable nappies, and hypnobirthing. What would you say are the key issues in terms of sustainability and wellbeing during pregnancy and in the early years?
Health and wellbeing come first, especially during pregnancy where hormones are imbalanced and can worsen after delivery when managing a newborn is thrown into the mix. Women need to recognise that pregnancy and having a newborn is a massive change in their lives and that negative feelings are okay to experience and entirely normal. Engage in activities to help, for example, exercise in any form, including a walk, is proven to boost endorphins and promote wellbeing. Seek help if it becomes too much, you are NEVER alone, so please reach out.
A child comes with heaps of joy and love, and tonnes of waste. A baby could have used 4,000 to 6,000 nappies by the time they are potty trained and it is estimated that it takes 500 years for ONE nappy to decompose. 500 years! If King Henry VIII used disposables, they'd still be around now. 8 million nappies goes to landfill each year - and we have not even started on wipes, pads, etc. We should start being sustainable in all we do right now, pregnant or not, child or not. However, pregnancy is a good place to start. Maternity wear, as well as nursing wear, is only required for a certain period of time, hence it makes sense economically and environmentally to rent instead of buy. The same issue occurs in newborn/children's clothing. Renting newborn and children's wear tackles this; babies grow out of their clothing in a few months and once again, clothing waste is generated.
We hope for a future where the textile loop is closed, where people can participate in a sharing economy, but remain up to date with fashion and can dress elegantly, whatever the shape of their body.
Questions were asked over email. Thank you Rachel for your time and candid responses in this little-discussed area of sustainable fashion!
Remember, Bundle 'n Joy are offering our friends £10 instant cashback upon subscription to any Bundle, which start from £35 per month. Just quote OWC10 on subscription to any bundle. (Valid August 2020 only).
If you're a mama-to-be and are looking to reduce your consumption or even get creative during your pregnancy, check out Charlie's inspirational video on products you can make at home based on her own experience - that may even spark a business idea! Find it as a full lesson here with audio, key takeaways and business inspiration, or just as the video here.