Clothing for a Cause

A portion of Zuma Blu’s net proceeds goes toward bullying prevention.

Local clothing line Zuma Blu's athletic wear  goes beyond traditional retail. Through fun, colorful prints and specialized designs, the brand works with initiatives to help fight bullying and promote self-esteem in adolescents.

The athleisure pieces are created for cycling, running, yoga, and studio exercising. Inspired by Zuma Beach in Malibu, Calif., the clothing reflects its beachy namesake with bright palettes of blues and pinks in vibrant prints.

Co-founders Brian and Lea Leopold were inspired to create an entrepreneurial endeavor that would combine their respective experiences in project management and retail design. Drawing from their time in southern California, the Leopolds aimed to fill a gap in athletic wear, looking first at cycling.

“Cycling is kind of isolated, it doesn’t adapt to trends,” Brian says. “We’re just casual cyclists and we wanted to wear the bike shorts, but don’t want to look like a biker.”

Taking off from the cycling wear, the Plymouth couple expanded their designs to work for a broader range of exercises. With more styles, fits and designs, the Leopolds’ rebranded Zuma Blu and launched the line last spring.
But the duo also wanted a social mission connected to their business endeavor. They chose to support anti-bullying initiatives, drawing from Lea’s experiences as a teenager.

“I had a hard time with bullying in high school that still affects me today,” Lea says. “People don’t want to talk about it, there’s a sense of embarrassment and you want to hide. But you can talk about it and share it and it has less power and significance.”

Ten percent of annual net proceeds and up to 100 percent of the flash sale profits go to prevention charities in the greater Twin Cities region. Through an app called Strava, Zuma Blu also sponsors biking and running clubs, matching dollars to miles for donation.

This month, Zuma Blu is organizing its first annual Dakota Rail Classic for Bully Prevention at James J. Hill Days with proceeds benefitting Youth Frontiers. With options available from 8 miles to 54, participants can choose a distance to bike on the Dakota Rail Regional Trail.

Also, the Leopolds meet with local programs working with kids to promote their self-esteem and confidence. Zuma Blu’s mission applies these values to the clothing and customer experience as well.

“We really want to support women of all shapes and sizes, so we have a lot of fits and styles that are complimentary. We want women to feel great and confident, motivating you to get active, tackle and do it,” Lea says.

Online shopping can be challenging, but Zuma Blu offers free personal styling to try the clothing on at home. Clients pay for the items they like and ship back the others.

Zuma Blu brand ambassador Holly Janiszewski, a personal trainer, says she was attracted to Zuma Blu’s clothing and its cause.

“I think for a lot of people now, when they’re purchasing things, they’re being aware of what this company is doing to make our world a better place,” Janiszewski says.

First Annual Dakota Rail Classic at James J. Hill Days
Sept. 10. Registration at 8 a.m. race begins at 9 a.m. $15–$39