Hear from Miki and other wellness entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and medical experts at Wellspring, Wanderlust’s premiere wellness expo in Palm Springs, October 24–26.
If there’s on person we can look to for inspiration, it’s Miki Agrawal. This serial entrepreneur has started three businesses, is writing her second book, and still makes the time to maintain a meditation practice. She’s known for addressing taboos (her company THINX changed the way we look at periods) and turning problems into solution through business.
I asked Miki to divulge her sources for creativity and share what she’s learned along her journey. Ready to turn your own life into an empire? Here’s how she did it.
Wanderlust (WL): You’ve created a myriad of awesome projects. What would you say is a common thread for inspiration?
Miki Agrwal (MA): I get my ideas from simply being in the world, doing my best to observe things with a fresh (childlike) eye, questioning the things that don’t seem to make sense, and notating the things that “suck” in my day-to-day life. And rather than complaining about the things that don’t make sense or suck, I get excited because it’s an opportunity to solve those things and make our collective human experiences better.
WL: I’ve read in previous interviews that THINX, TUSHY and WILD came out of necessity—both for yourself and for others. Can you speak more to this? How has your life and life experiences influenced your entrepreneurial projects?
MA: TUSHY solves one of the things that I do very often and every day: poop. I am one of those people who poops a lot and I never understood why we wipe our butts with dry paper and call that clean. We certainly don’t jump in the shower and only use dry paper and call our bodies clean. That area of our body is critical to our health and happiness (ie. sex, babies, excretion) and yet we don’t properly take care of it because it’s a “taboo” area. Also, since the late 1800s, we have been led to believe that toilet paper does the job but all it does is cost us money every month (to the tune of billions of dollars per year if you add us all together), kills millions of trees per year and causes chronic infections and issues down there like UTIs, hemorrhoids, and fissures.
So I created a simple, modern, affordable bidet attachment called TUSHY which easily clips onto any standard toilet and turns it into a bidet. It’s only $69, takes 10 minutes to install, requires no plumbing or electrical, comes with everything you need in the box, and it’s literally the most important thing in my bathroom. Also, for every TUSHY sold, we fund an organization in India that builds clean latrines for the urban poor who have access to nothing and are defecating out in the open. To date, we have helped 12,000 families gain access to clean sanitation facilities.
As for THINX, I just couldn’t believe that there hadn’t been any innovation in a very long time in those categories because again, those topics were deemed “taboo” by the social system that we lived in. I thought that by creating best-in-class underwear, it could shine a light on this subject and make us ask ourselves why are these things [periods] not okay to talk about when it’s the very thing that creates human life? Also, I was a very irresponsible bleeder and kept ruining all of my underwear—and I needed a solution for that! Under my leadership, we helped over 100,000 girls gain access to menstrual products throughout Africa.
WILD came about when I realized how sensitive I am to processed foods: the bleach, refined sugar, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, preservatives etc and it turns out that millions of people are too, for obvious reasons. I had to give up my favorite comfort food, pizza, so I decided to start New York City’s first gluten-free, farm-to-table pizza eatery in 2005. During that time, everyone thought “gluten-free”, “farm-to-table,” and “organic” meant “must taste like cardboard,” so it took a lot of education to get people to “get” it.
WL: Promotion for your brands (THINX especially) come across more as art than the do advertising. How have you used art to now influence TUSHY and your other projects?
MA: My teams know that unless it’s artful and show-stopping, it won’t pass the test. We are in the process of rebranding TUSHY to make it artfully aspirational yet playful and fun. Art needs to be fun and not too serious. Also, since I’m talking about “taboo” subjects like poop and periods, the campaigns better be artful, or people will be too grossed out to talk about it. The art and playful tone bring people’s guards down.
WL: What or who is something/someone who has most influenced you professionally?
MA: I think having a twin sister who has been with me since birth has taught me to remain authentic. Anytime I’m not being “myself” or she’s not being “herself,” we keep each other in check. Like, “Why are you acting like that?” or “You’re being weird right now. » Haha. It came naturally, but I learned that being authentic is critical in business, especially if we are doing things that are out of the ordinary.
If we are working from a place of “pleasing people,” then trying to create businesses that break taboos simply will never happen.
Also, my life coach Lauren Zander has had more influence on me to face myself over and over again to deal with all that life throws my way in a really productive way and she makes self-work so much fun! I have worked with her every single week for almost five years and it has truly changed my life.
WL: It’s pretty clear you’re a creative person. Do you have trouble deciding which projects to focus on?
MA: I always ask myself three questions before moving forward:
What sucks in my world?
Does it suck for a lot of people?
Can I be passionate about this issue, cause, or community for a really long time? (This is the most important question to solve.)
WL: You’re all about tackling taboos. What’s next on the agenda?
MA: I’m really focused on TUSHY—getting every butt in America clean, saving 15 million trees from getting flushed down the toilet unnecessarily each year, and saving our natural resources that are required to make toilet paper (ie. it requires 37 gallons of water to make 1 single roll of toilet paper!). Changing the culture around our bathroom habits is something that I’m going to work on for a while.
I’m really passionate about the global sanitation crisis that is affecting over 1 billion people globally. The fact that TUSHY not only elevates human lives in the first world, but also funds the buildout of clean latrines in the third world, makes me even more motivated to keep going.
WL: I’m super excited for your upcoming book, DISRUPT HER : A Manifesto For The Modern Woman. Can you tell us more about this?
MA: Disrupt-Her is a new kind of Manifesto that asks—no, demands—that women question, dissect, and disrupt 13 major areas of our lives, including societal preconceptions that keep us from living fully lit up, both personally and professionally. In this book, I want to teach women to:
- Dissect, declutter and update internal thoughts and external habits that are currently holding you back.
- Start a movement that solves real problems and does good—even especially if you don’t have a lot of money, a college degree or years of experience.
- Become a true “Warrior-Gatekeeper of your Mind” in all situations.
- Not let “Hate-Hers” derail you from your mission, and instead show them the way back to being “Love-Hers.”
- Create healthy relationships with men who are stuck in the old-fashioned patriarchy.
- Find and align with SNAGS (Secure New Age Guys).
- Create a supportive, fun, caring community that stands by you no matter what.
WL: You’re all about empowerment and I love it. What advice would you give to others looking to create authentic entrepreneurial projects?
MA: No more talking and dreaming, only doing! Put one foot in front of the other and focus on doing one or two things every single day toward the thing you are working on. It’s amazing how fast it adds up when you are doing a couple of things every day.
For more Miki, check out her first book, Do Cool Shit: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business and Live Happily Ever After.
Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram.