SHAH ALAM, April 2 — Changing diapers for babies and toddlers sounds easy right? In reality, it can be an exercise of patience and dexterity as the young ones never stay still, squirming away as you tackle cleaning them and changing their diapers. Your solution may be YAY Kids snapless rompers that is easy to slip on or as per their tagline, just ‘Sarong ‘N’ Go!’. Made with stretchable jersey, there is also no need to bother with fiddly snaps, buttons or zippers for these rompers.
The brand was started by husband-and-wife team, Mohd Khairul bin Shazali and Jezmine binti Zaidan in November 2014. They had met in 2003 in Universiti Teknologi MARA where they were mass communications course mates. Later, Jezmine went on to study fashion design. She also did a stint as a fashion writer for the Malaysian edition of Marie Claire magazine.
The idea for YAY Kids started when Jezmine was pregnant with her daughter, Zaria. As she was looking for something unique to outfit her first child, Jezmine’s husband suggested she make her own. “We try to do something different from the market. Back then we couldn’t find anything that suits our style or our tastes so we decided to create our own,” explained Khairul.
The couple kicked off their brand with bedding, namely blankets and pillows with Star Wars prints. For Raya, they will make 2-piece clothes similar to baju kurung and baju Melayu. It was only during their annual Raya collection that they decided to add the snapless romper which became popular with parents looking for a fuss-free and edgier look for their children. Nowadays, they have stopped selling bedding products because their hands are full with orders for the snapless rompers. In addition, they also sell mittens made from cotton with various prints that include matching ones with the rompers.
It’s not Jezmine’s first clothing venture as previously, she founded Old Blossom Box Store, a boutique selling vintage clothing. After the birth of her second child, Muhammad Zarif, the couple focus solely on YAY Kids since running two businesses take up too much of their time. Originally in event management, Khairul used to give talks to entrepreneurs up until 2009. Later, he helped Jezmine with her boutique. With YAY Kids, he is now in charge of the technical side of things like their web design, registration of business, photography for product shots as well as other parts of the business that Jezmine needs assistance.
The idea behind the snapless rompers arose from Jezmine’s personal experience with diaper changing her two young ones.”We try to create clothes that don’t need any snaps. So mostly rompers and dresses for the girls. People think that having snapless rompers is difficult but when you are used to it, you will find it very easy. We did a tutorial with my baby wearing it and it took us less than a minute to put it on. You won’t spoil the clothes,” said Jezmine.
Khairul shared that last time, they used to dress their children in two-piece clothing such as pants and a top. But when they did the diaper change, they ended up having to change everything because the clothes will end up dirty. For their market research, they visited diaper-changing rooms in the shopping malls and compared the speed which parents did the diaper change with rompers that has snaps. “When we go to the malls and we’re next to other people who have snaps, they take longer to put the clothes than us to put on the snaps,” said Jezmine. As Khairul adds, “Sometimes, they are still struggling but we are already done with our babies.”
Initially the first romper prototype was a simple, plain design with a heat press image on it. The material was also thinner and softer but it did not have the structure of the current design. Khairul and Jezmine went through multiple iterations of prototypes before coming up with one that meets their satisfaction. Through trial and error as well as trying on the rompers on their own children, they were able to troubleshoot and find out what’s comfortable.
One thing you will notice about YAY Kids’ rompers is that they still maintain their shape even after several washes, according to Jezmine. The knit jersey fabric for the romper is imported from Australia. The stretchable material is also practical for active kids to run around without fear of tearing their clothes. Customers that give them their feedback are happy with the rompers and there are repeat customers.
The designs for the rompers have a strong element of fun and coolness. Jezmine uses various prints that includes licensed Star Wars and The Simpsons material for the clothes. Their collection also include edgier touches like spikes (to resemble a dinosaur!) and fringes to make your child stand out from the crowd. “We became more experimental and we started to have the spikes at the side. We try to make something different,” said Jezmine. She will sew the working samples for the rompers and send them to be manufactured locally.
Each design is made in small batches. “We have 50 items per design. If we think it’s more sellable, we would do more. If we are unsure, we will do less,” said Jezmine. YAY Kids releases new designs weekly with about two to five designs per week. Every two months, Jezmine and Khairul will release a new collection with 10 new designs. Once a design is sold out, they won’t repeat the same design. When you purchase a YAY Kids romper, it comes in a cute, whimsical pouch with pom poms that is designed by Jezmine.
YAY Kids also collaborates with other homegrown brands to help each other out. The YAY x JRB Rompers was a collaborative effort with kids brand, Jelly R Beans which featured rompers with patches such as a pair of catchy eyes and food items like burgers, milk shakes and French fries. The limited edition rompers were a sell-out success. They have also joined forces with other kids brands to do events, like Si Kenits which is a community of homegrown crafters that organises events, bazaars and activities that push local children’s products. “It’s hard to make a stand when you are just a lone startup so we decided to go with five other brands so we can make it more noticeable.” Another collaboration they are looking forward to is with The BIG Group in April, when Si Kenits will help organise Little BIG Market.
The snapless rompers is not a new phenomenon overseas but Jezmine believes that YAY Kids is one of the first to sell them here. She adds, “That’s why we made our own because we cannot find anything like this here.” They will also be introducing sweaters in case the customers get bored of rompers.
YAY Kids do get international customers like Indonesians, Singaporeans and also Malaysians who are residing in Australia and UK. Buying through social media like Instragram is still the preferred choice for YAY Kids’ customers. Even though they join bazaars to promote the brand, the couple find that sales are more effective for kids-centric bazaars like Si Kenits.
To date, the Forest Spiked Romper is the most popular design. Prices range from RM49 to RM99 and customers are eligible for free shipping if they purchase above RM150. The sizing for the rompers run from zero months to four years old. With the rompers selling like hot cakes, shipping is done every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.