Fact: 1 in 4 women experience pee leaks during exercise.
Pee leaks are usually associated with older women or women who have given birth, but the truth is they’re common with all types of women: younger, older, athletic or not-so-athletic. We sat down for a chat with Susanne Marston, founder of Runes Movement, an absorbent sportswear brand that enables female athletes to keep moving – despite pee leaks, menstrual blood and excess sweat. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner to create our Period Proof Underwear with. ‘In my opinion, it is a very female thing to want to collaborate. We could’ve easily seen each other as competition but instead, we benefit from the trails Yoni blazes and vice versa. If we operate in the same space but together, we can make even more of an impact.’
The story of Runes Movement
‘My name is Susanne Marston and I am the founder of Runes Movement. I come from a corporate background, having worked as a legal counsel for many years. Like a lot of women, I took a break from exercising to better juggle my family and career. When my kids started to get a bit older and I was able to carve out more time for myself.
I started doing CrossFit – a dynamic type of fitness that combines weightlifting, cardio and gymnastics. And during one of these classes… I peed my pants. I didn’t know what to do or say, just that I had to go home quickly and jump in the shower. The incident then disappeared from my mind. Until it happened again.
At first, I thought it was just me and it was my ‘punishment’ for not doing enough kegel exercises while I was pregnant. But then I found out pee leaks were actually very common among women and even pro athletes, it just wasn’t talked about.
However, in all the research I read it was suggested that urine loss is related to age, childbirth or a higher BMI – which isn’t necessarily the case. You can be young and super athletic, never having had children, and still experience pee leaks. A few years later – having moved to the Netherlands by then – I had some time in between jobs to think about what my next steps should be. I really wanted to do something that would not just help me but other women. And from that idea and my own personal experience, Runes Movement was born.’
Blood, crotch sweat and pee
‘We collaborated with Yoni to create Period Proof Underwear. From the moment Mariah – the co-founder of Yoni – and I met, we were on the same page. And when I heard Mariah was interested in making Period Proof Underwear and was looking for somebody to partner up with, I wanted to offer our expertise on absorbent underwear. Of course, I in turn didn’t know that much about the fem care industry. So we were really able to learn from and with each other.
We met with Yoni’s CEO Theo who had to assess if the plan to make Period Proof Underwear was financially viable. Theo is a man in his mid-to-late 60s, and we were talking to him about blood, crotch sweat and pee, although it was obvious that he wasn’t used to these kinds of conversations. At the end of the conversation he just said; ‘I learned a lot today.’ Ha!’
Taboo around pee leaks
‘I think the taboo around pee leaks stems from most women not knowing how common it is. It also shines a light on our particular and personal insecurities. Take me for example. I don’t particularly like getting older and, for me, ‘incontinence’ signifies an old lady. A friend of mine is always trying to lose weight, and she thinks she’s experiencing pee leaks because she’s too fat. It also coincides with society’s idea of the perfect woman, who certainly doesn’t pee her pants. When the reality is that all kinds of women experience pee leaks for a variety of reasons.’
Shrink it, pink it, sell it
‘It was wonderful collaborating with Yoni because our brands overlap in a lot of ways. Where Yoni wants to break taboos around menstruation, we want to do the same around pee leaks. Plus, both our focus is on women and their needs. For Runes Movement, women’s physiology is at the center of what we do. We were fed up with ill-fitting leggings that are see-through, or in which you can see crotch sweat. Whereas conventional athletic brands just start with men’s bodies as the norm and then shrink it, pink it, put a doubled price tag on it and sell it to women. And finally, Yoni and Runes Movement overlap because we want to minimize our environmental impact while still pursuing our mission. In my opinion, it is a very female thing to collaborate. We could’ve easily seen each other as the competition but instead, we benefit from the trails Yoni blazes and vice versa. If we operate in the same space but join forces, we can make even more of an impact.’
Do you want to get to know more about Susanne, Runes Movement and Period Proof Underwear? Mariah and Susanne continued their conversation on Instagram! You can re-watch it on our IGTV.