Fearless Females:
Fightwear for Women - Joanne White

Thursday, September 06, 2018

"Go that extra mile and prove your worth that little bit more... 

work hard and let that speak for itself."

I'm excited to share my second Fearless Female feature talking to an inspiring mum of two Joanne White, who runs her own Southampton based Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA) fightwear clothing company, Rainha Fightwear exclusively for women. Having found there weren't any clothing companies that catered to women's bodies & sizing, Joanne decided to set out her own company doing just that! I originally heard of Joanne's unique business from an alumni entrepreneurs networking group at Solent University and had to hear more of how Joanne set up her business! So here's her story on her passion for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and breaking the mould. This shoot also features a few beautiful photos of her youngest daughter Effie who couldn't stay away from the camera! Isn't she gorgeous?


Nisha: What inspired you to start this unique business, Rainha Fightwear? When did you start?
Joanne: I had been training for about a year, and struggled to find anywhere fightwear that suited my style and also found that there weren’t any brands out there that had a wide variety in women fightwear at the time. So it originally started as a university final major project and developed from there.

I see you regularly train in martial arts, how did you get into this sport & lifestyle?
I've always had a love for martial arts, but had never tried anything like Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) before. My fiancee was training and kept pushing for me to give it a try. I was hooked from my first session.

As a mum of two young girls, what is it like being a full-time mum, businesswoman and sportswoman? Do you have a particular routine, lifestyle you work to?
Hectic! Yes our life is pretty much built around routine to fit in not only our work and training schedule but also our eldest daughters as well as she currently does BJJ, swimming and is starting street dance soon as well.

I imagine your beautiful daughters and fiancé are a big part of your business & brand. In what ways does the family get involved in the business?
We do everything together, so Jon and I both run Rainha and make all of the final decisions together if we ever struggle and can't agree on a design we let our eldest daughter Marlee be the deciding factor. We also get her involved in photoshoots, events and our social media. She loves getting involved and it has inspired her to create her own mini brands for fun.

How do you come up with designs for your clothing range? Tell me about the process of getting specially made fightwear designed for females in mind.
Our first design was just a simple one we put together to help with brand recognition and also get our brand colours and everything out there. Since then we’ve actually had some very talented tattoo artist friends of ours Amber and Juliet who have created two of our most popular rash guards. We wanted to get designing our own more, that was the original plan, but where things took off so quickly and unexpectedly it caught us off guard. You can see of Amber and Juliet's work on Instagram @amberjanetattoo and @artycow.

Did you receive any funding for your business or was it all self-started?
We received a bit of funding from Solent University through their business startup scheme where we also took part in crowdfunding but we mainly scraped together what we could and crossed our fingers!

Having competed in BJJ & Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and won various competitions, do you feel the community of female fighters and this sport is growing? 
I have competed a few times last year, which I found incredibly nerve-racking but also so fun. I got to meet loads of fantastic female fighters which was amazing and create some great friendships. One of my favourite competitions I have done is 'Fight like a Girl', run by one of my best friends Chloe Moore. It's a female only competition and was great to see so many talented women in one room fighting and laughing all at the same time. I think its just going to keep growing, more and more women are not only trying BJJ every day but are also making themselves well known in the BJJ community for their amazing achievements in competition around the world.

Do you still compete in local/regional or national competitions?
Yes, I would love to do some bigger competitions eventually, but I’m not very confident and second guess myself a lot, so I want to spend this year really concentrating on my technique and training with lots of other women and prepare for a year of competing next year.

You’re very active in this community and social media, do you find this helps with creating your products & clothing?
Definitely, I think being active on social media is a big part of it, but we also really value every single one of our customers and do our best to make sure we give them the best service possible. We are only a tiny family-run brand so every sale for us is huge and we want our customers to know how much we appreciate them so I think that is more important.

How did you go about building your Rainha brand? Your logo is gorgeous!
Lots of guessing and trial and error. Everyone is so lucky they didn’t see the list of potential names we had there was a lot of questionable choices!

Do you tend to find your customers are local or nationwide or even international?
We get a lot of customers over the country but we have found that we actually get a lot of love from America as well as Europe which is awesome and still totally blows our minds.

You talked about Fibromyalgia which you’ve described as chronic full body pain and fatigue. It’s amazing that you’re so active in the BJJ community and what you’ve done to overcome that. What major challenges did you have with running your business and did you have to make big changes in your life?
Well it never goes away, so its just balance really. I try my best to live as healthy a lifestyle as I can and also make sure I schedule in time for me to rest and recover because that's a big part of it. Getting the balance is definitely the hardest.

I imagine in the sport of BJJ and MMA, there aren’t as many female role models. Do you have any role models you look up to?
There are loads of female role models it's amazing and it hard to pick just one. A couple of women that I love to watch compete at the moment is Ffion Davies, Samantha Cook and Gezary Matuda.

On the topic of female empowerment, have there been any obstacles being a businesswoman or in life and how did you overcome that?
I guess being a woman in a male-dominated sport starting a business for women in a male-dominated sport was really daunting and at first was a risk and also where I train at the moment I am currently the only woman. I guess you always feel like you always have to try and go that extra mile and prove your worth that little bit more, which is a lot of pressure in itself, but I just try and keep my head down and work hard and let that speak for itself.

Another interesting topic you’ve touched upon is confidence. As a business owner myself, there are definitely times I lose confidence in myself. Do you have any processes that help you with inner confidence in both your business and yourself?
I'm just very good at faking confidence! More often then not I have to check in with Jon, he helps me keep a level head and not over think things and try and stay as confident as I can. All you can do is try your best.

What advice would you give to females interested in trying out BJJ or MMA for the first time? Would you have to have a certain fitness level or previous combat sports experience?
To just do it, you get fit while training so there's nothing to worry about, its great fun and you become a part of a great team and eventually become like family. I couldn’t recommend BJJ more, it has helped me so much not just with my fitness and health but also with my confidence.

If you're interested in trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu or Mixed Martial Arts, Joanne trains at Phoenix BJJ in Southampton where you can meet and learn more about this exciting sport. See their timetable of classes here.

You can find out more about Joanne's unique business below:

Rainha Fightwear Instagram


Also some exciting news for this Autumn/Winter 2018 season. I'm currently working on a brand new venture, Girlboss Sessions - branding, portrait & lifestyle photos for fearless female entrepreneurs & kick-ass businesswomen who are bossing it at work. Can't wait to share more updates about this!

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