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The Short Version: Nuu-Muu designs upscale athletic apparel for women to wear on adventurous or outdoorsy dates. The company’s dresses, made of a breathable fabric, are popular with women who want to look stylish while feeling like they can still freely move around. The dresses are particularly well-suited for transitional dates, in which an athletic activity leads to a more romantic setting — including a bike ride to a winery.
Many women want to feel confident and dressed for the occasion when they’re on dates — even in the great outdoors. Whether they’re running a race with a partner or hiking a mountain, women want to maintain a level of comfort and freedom of movement — without having to wear unattractive sweatpants.
That was how Christine Nienstedt felt each time she completed a half-marathon. She wanted to look good while celebrating crossing the finish line. So she wore dresses during her races to look more polished.
“I felt revitalized by it, and I got so many comments about how good my outfits looked,” she told us.
So many women approached her after her races that Christine said she realized upscale athletic wear was a clothing market that hadn’t been tapped. Women wanted action-oriented clothing that would make them look and feel good about themselves.
That’s why Christine and her friend Ashley Fullenwider co-founded Nuu-Muu in 2008 to make those clothes a reality.
Christine said she wanted to design dresses that women could wear on adventures. The dresses are made of a comfortable fabric that supports movement. Christine and Ashley were so motivated that they quickly got the company up and running.
“When I realized that other people would enjoy it, too, the company came together in only a few months,” said Christine.
Women who want to look more dressed up when they work out flock to Nuu-Muu. The Classic Keyhole Dress — the original Nuu-Muu — comes in different patterns and with or without a back pocket. A slightly different style has a lower, scooped neck. Recently, Nuu-Muu also rolled out leggings and a longer-sleeve dress for more formal occasions.
Couples who exercise together are more likely to stay together. According to a survey from Psychology Today, couples who worked out together said they were happier with their relationships and felt more in love after an athletic session.
Exercising may also help couples feel more emotionally connected.
“Nonverbal mimicry helps people feel emotionally attuned with one another, and those who experience or engage in it tend to report greater feelings of having ‘bonded’ with their partner,” the article noted.
But not every woman feels confident enough to wear traditional workout gear, especially when dating a new partner. Nuu-Muu’s dresses can make women feel more attractive than when they wear bland workout clothing.
“Dating can be a challenge to our egos and to navigate gracefully and feel strong. Anything that gives someone that extra boost to feel good enough to exercise or feel attractive on a date, I’m all about that,” Christine told us.
Christine shared the story of one customer who said she felt more at home in Nuu-Muu clothing than in any other athletic apparel. The customer recounted how, when she went outside to walk or bike, she started wearing Nuu-Muu dresses to boost her confidence. They helped the woman succeed in her weight-loss journey.
Women of all ages enjoy wearing Nuu-Muu products for outdoorsy dates, though the company’s core demographic ranges in age from 40 to 70. Younger women who want to be active, yet stand out, also frequently purchase its products.
“The women who are in their 40s or 50s like the coverage and the fact that it’s not form-fitting. You can wear whatever you want under your dresses. Women with larger chests have options, as do women who want to wear leggings underneath,” Christine said.
Nuu-Muu dresses are different from alternative exercise clothing in many ways. Each dress is made from a special fabric blend that offers 50+ SPF protection and is moisture-wicking so it dries quickly. All the dresses are A-line and designed so women can wear them with sports bras underneath. They’re also sewn in the United States.
The company’s first dress was its Classic Keyhole style, a sleeveless dress with a small keyhole in the neckline.
The next dress style was called Back Pocket and included a pocket in the back of the dress for keys, cards, or a phone. It is now the company’s best-selling option.
Another dress option is the Scoop, which has a lower and dressier neckline for people who want to wear lighter garments in the warmer months. Many women wear this third dress because it has more air flow and looks good with a necklace or cardigan on a date.
“Women wear our dresses for those transitional moments. Maybe they want to go on a bike ride and then to a winery. Or they want to take a workout class and then go to the store without wearing sweatpants,” said Christine.
Recently, Nuu-Muu rolled out a fourth dress option with long sleeves and a travel-oriented fabric. It has a V-neck front, and the skirt hits below the knee — key differences from the other classic Nuu-Muu options.
“We made that dress in response to our customers saying they wanted to wear one of our dresses to church or on a date. This was our first year of making these more lifestyle-oriented dresses,” Christine told us.
Nuu-Muu started offering higher-end athletic wear more than a decade ago when the market was still in its infancy. Now, the company continues to innovate products to help women feel more comfortable every day.
“There were such limited options for women back then. Over the years, we’ve built an amazing community of women who are adventurous and have big spirits,” Christine said.
Customers enjoy Nuu-Muu dresses so much that some have worn them as they battle through cancer treatments and weight loss journeys. A few women have even asked for custom-designed Nuu-Muu wedding dresses.
Last year, Nuu-Muu expanded to offer Heaven Prants, leggings with more comfort and style than other options. The leggings have side pockets, a high-waisted cut, and a comfortable waistband.
Next up, Christine said she is on a mission to develop the perfect skirt. She said she plans to design one for exercise and another for everyday wear. She added that she never wants Nuu-Muu to grow so large that it can’t stay committed to its mission.
“Our goal is to stay strong and mighty, yet organically run. We love our size, our customers, and our repeat customers who come back to us because they feel good,” she said.
Women who want to feel confident and comfortable on adventurous dates can turn to Nuu-Muu’s dresses or leggings. Christine, an athlete who never wanted to look sloppy, said she is glad that so many women can get active in her clothing.
“We’ve had fun engaging with the community, and that’s what keeps us going. Making these dresses is a source of great joy and satisfaction. We love giving women a flexible, beautiful option,” Christine told us.
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