Today we’re talking to the CEO and co-founder of WUKA Wear.
Hi everyone, I’m Ruby Raut. I am a Nepali and I’ve been in the UK for the past 8 years. I am a passionate environmentalist, who likes to be among wild nature whenever I can…and I love mountain biking. I run a small project called food waste ninja where I teach children from schools in Hertfordshire about food waste and its effect on the environment. I’m also the CEO and co-founder of WUKA Wear.
Can you tell us more about WUKA Wear?
WUKA is reusable menstrual underwear that was created so you can have an ultra-luxurious, comfortable, hygienic and eco-friendly period. Available in sizes 6 – 20, WUKA underwear is suitable for all ages.
Our WUKA underwear has 3 layers. The central layer plus another two layers, with one being an absorbent layer and the other being a breathable leakproof layer. When you wear the knickers during your period, the blood is drawn into the inner layer and passed to the central layer where the fabric absorbs and interlocks; then you have the breathable leakproof layer which is there for extra protection. The underwear can absorb the equivalent of 4 tampons, so they can be worn overnight or for about 8 hours during the day. The material we use dries instantly so you won’t feel any wet sensation. The washing is very easy too. Just rinse the blood and chuck them in the washing machine with your blacks or hand wash. (You then need to hang dry them as tumble drying affects the fabric.)
I’ve had lots of really positive feedback on the underwear. My favourite being this:
“I was lucky enough to be given a sample from Ruby for my daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. I must say I would highly recommend this product. My daughter has worn them for almost 11 hours in the heaviest days of her period and there is no leaking whatsoever. They are comfortable and so easy for her, and she needs no prompting to change pads like she did before. They are perfect for special needs kids or for girls who do a lot of sport…and for any girl really.”
What are the benefits of WUKA underwear?
There are many benefits. It’s cheaper to use period underwear than disposable products. It’s better for your health – tampons can be drying while unbreathable pads can cause irritation and rashes. They are better for the environment: reusable means less waste going to landfill and less use of plastics. Then you also have the leakproof benefit which means nice knickers or bed sheets don’t get ruined.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to develop this product?
I am a passionate environmental scientist and always had a strong desire to create something useful for a larger group of people. But most importantly it was my upbringing and my education combined together that led me to where I am today.
I was born and brought up in beautiful Nepal, where upon turning 12 I saw a different side to my culture. Nachune, the Nepali name for period literally translates as ‘untouchable’, which is what women are told they are when they start to bleed. I also had to practise (the dreaded) Chaupaddi for my first period. Chaupaddi is a social tradition in Nepal, which prohibits women from participating in normal family activities during menstruation, as they are considered untouchable. It’s different in each region so I didn’t go and live in the cow shed like some do, but was sent to my aunt’s house where I stayed for a week. I was not allowed to go out in the sun, to look at men, or to touch any plants (which would die if I touched them, of course). I had my own bowl and cup which I ate and drank from as I was ‘dirty’. Thinking of it now, it still makes me cross, like a deep scar that itches.
In Nepal I used Sari rags for my period. Though they were super sustainable, they were also super uncomfortable. Once we were playing volleyball and my friend’s ‘pad’ just dropped out, and that was the end of playing sport during your period. I decided to be innovative and started pinning my pad to my underwear. It did work for a while but I got a few stabs when the pin came undone! I believe it was from then on that I was always thinking about ways to have a better, more comfortable period. And when I came here to the UK I saw another side to it, with the issues of waste and single-use plastic. So it was all of this combined that led me to create WUKA wear.
What are your next steps on the WUKA journey?
We want WUKA to be a global product. I would like it to be available to all menstruating people across the world, at a reasonable cost, so everyone can manage their period in the most sustainable and eco-friendly way possible. I would also love to be a brand that makes people feel empowered, so by wearing something by WUKA it can help end the taboos around periods.
If you’d like to support us, please spread the word with family and friends. Let’s make the unspoken conversations about periods start to happen in everyone’s home. And we need to make sure we inform men and boys about menstruation too.
Where can our readers buy WUKA Wear?
You can pre-order WUKA underwear from www.wuka.co.uk. We are currently taking pre-orders and will start shipping from the end of March. The underwear costs £29.99 per pair. However we are doing a pre-order discount of £25 per pair or £99.99 when you buy a pack of 5. Shipping is free to the UK, £3.80 to Europe and £10 for International.
What is one of the best things about running your own business?
When you get amazing feedback from the customer or when customers make the extra effort to write to tell us how excited they are about WUKA.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far in running your own business?
I would say in the beginning it was putting the word out there. Menstruation is still a taboo subject and not spoken about very freely in public.
If you could give someone who is thinking about starting their own business some advice, what would it be?
Follow your passion and stay focused to one mission that you want to achieve, that could be in a day, week, month or year. You need to have the drive to make it happen. Make sure you put enough hours into your passion project.
Here at Women Aloud we’re focusing on health and happiness, can you tell us one thing that you do to help you feel happy or healthy?
I love nature and family. So a hike with family members is always something I love to do. Spending quality time with loved ones always make me happy.
Are there any women who run their own business that you’d like to give a shout out to?
I’m meeting so many amazing women every day. One of the people that I’d love to give a shout out to is Emily Mathieson. She runs an ethical homeware business called Aerende, which sells goods made by vulnerable people, including trafficked women and the mentally ill. It’s such an amazing, social enterprise business. You can find out more about her here on the Aerende website.
Images © WUKA Ltd. 2017