Last week, a Jiu-Jitsu Times exclusive survey revealed a hard truth about women’s BJJ apparel: what we’re getting isn’t what we want. The struggle to find something that fits us and doesn’t drown us in pink fabric and floral embroidery is real, and it’s one that a woman named Josie was all too familiar with. So she decided to do something about it.
Three years ago, Josie was involved in a “crappy and intimidating incident” near her home, which prompted her husband, Jon, to introduce her to jiu-jitsu. For her, it was love at first roll, and she found that it greatly increased her confidence. But she also found that the female-oriented gear that was out there was simply “not her” — she wasn’t looking to be covered in butterflies while trying to choke someone out.
Josie found an opportunity to be the change she wished to see in the female BJJ gear industry through her university, where she was she was working for her BA in Fashion Graphics. She decided to create a brand for her final project, then discovered that her university had a program to help get graduates’ entrepreneurial plans off the ground by giving them the chance to win funding for their project. “It was something I was interested in and a fun idea,” she says. “And with Jon also being a graphic designer, we figured we’d just go for it and see what happens!”
According to Josie, everything “just kind of snowballed” from that point on with the couple’s business, which was named Rainha. “We received the funding from university (which also involved crowd funding – thanks again to our original supporters!), got a bit of help from my dad, and pretty much scrimped and scraped the rest together,” she says. Social media also played a huge part in Rainha’s success — Josie says it’s helped them to meet “loads of amazing and like-minded people.” Amazingly, even other small brands even reached out to give them advice, which really came as a shock to this mother of two. “[In] what other industry would potential competitors help you?!”
Now that Rainha is off the ground, Josie and Jon are doing everything in their power to use their brand to help women who train. Their primary mission, of course, is to create fightwear that fits the wide variety of shapes and sizes that we ladies come in. They also sponsor as many women as they can, not only with gear, but also by giving them social media exposure and helping to fund their entry fees and travel expenses to larger tournaments. Additionally, they try to encourage more women to compete by offering them prizes for their hard work and success. “Basically we just want more ladies training and competing, and we want to be able to support the rise of women’s BJJ as best we can!” says Josie.
There’s obviously a lot of work that goes into running Rainha, but jiu-jitsu is something very near and dear to Josie and Jon. They and their older daughter train, and Josie is confident that their youngest daughter will start her BJJ journey when she’s ready. “We’ve met some amazing people and have been able to introduce our daughters to some incredible role models, both male and female,” she says. “BJJ has helped our family through some of its toughest times. It’s helped improve my health as I try to stay active through my fibromyalgia. It’s been therapy for all of us when we dealt with the early, scary and potentially life threatening arrival of Effie [their younger daughter], and got me through the following PTSD too!”
Having been part of such an amazing community that includes their academy and instructors at Phoenix BJJ Southampton, their customers, and the women they sponsor, Josie and Jon have pushed through whatever negative experiences have been thrust upon them. A small brand, they know they’re only at the beginning of their success story, but they aren’t going to stop until they’ve accomplished everything they want to. “We’re constantly working on more products and can’t wait to get them all out there,” says Josie. “We still act like school kids when we see photos from competitions and see someone we don’t know wearing some of our stuff — it’s so cool!”