What do you get when you mix pizza, menstrual periods and poop? We apologize for the nasty visual but there is a reason why these work for Miki Agrawal. A triple threat when it comes to business, creativity and philanthropy, she is changing the world one leak-free underwear and clean tushy at a time.
Passionate about saving the world and making a small mark as she goes along, Miki Agrawal is not your typical female entrepreneur. From an investment banker to a restaurateur behind WILD to the Founder of THINX and now, TUSHY, she has basically tried it all. In fact, we’d be lying if we said that this is all she has done. She is also the genius writer behind the book, Do Cool Sh*t.
Her down-to-earth vibes, authentic voice, no-f*cks-given attitude are contagious and we were definitely inspired when we met her in New York. Little did we know, we had stumbled upon our next role model and muse in life!
“We have definitely been champions in exposing all things taboo.”
Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Miki is one of two twin sisters to a mother of Japanese descent and a father of an Indian origin. In 2001, she graduated from Cornell University where she studied Business and Communication. Post college, she did what most smart and ambitious people do: investment banking. A few years into the job, 9/11 happened and luckily, Miki slept through her alarm that morning. Knowing that she was meant to be in the towers that day forced Miki to ask herself, ‘what am I supposed to do in life?’
A creative soul and mind, Miki jotted down three things that she would focus her efforts on moving forward: 1) Play pro soccer again 2) Make movies 3) Start a business. And just like that, she began in 2005 with production of commercial music videos and launch of a gluten-free pizza restaurant in NYC, WILD. Manifesting your dreams is no joke, folks!
“I wake up a little afraid and scared every day because if I wake up and I’m not scared, then it’s not challenging enough.”
Before we get into what Miki has brilliantly created through THINX and TUSHY, let’s go over some facts. 1 in 3 women experience bladder leakage as a simple laugh, cough, run, jog, sneeze experience and over 100 million girls miss a week of school on their menstrual periods. Taking these mind blowing data points together, Miki crusaded through and launched THINX in 2014 as part of a $7 billion industry dominated by companies like Depend and Poise. Beautiful underwear that was designed to absorb and support women during those little leaks now helps solve the periods issue globally.
Inspired by the TOMS shoe model, THINX developed Buy One Fund One instead of doing one for one, where for every underwear sold, THINX gives money to a for-profit company in Uganda named Afripads, which in turn allows them to make washable reusable cloth pads. These are eventually sold to women in Uganda at an affordable price giving Afripads a margin that has led them to grow from 25 employees to almost 200 since the partnership’s inception. As if this wasn’t enough, THINX has also recently launched the THINX Foundation that will promote a six-month curriculum to transform young girls into budding micro-business female entrepreneurs.
The idea for THINX first came to Miki in 2005 when she was at a family barbeque in Connecticut. While in the middle of a race, Radha, her twin sister, got her period and had to rush to the bathroom. As she was washing off her bathing suit, that’s when Miki realized, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could create a pair of underwear that never leaked and supported women every day of the month?’ But it wasn’t until 2010 when Miki visited South Africa for the FIFA World Cup and witnessed the problems girls were facing because of their periods that empowered her to get the business up and running. The inspiration behind the name, THINX, came from creating “thoughtful underwear that thinks of you and thinks of girls around the world” and the "X" at the end is technical like "Goretex.”
“TUSHY is literally helping human beings defecate with dignity!”
Some more facts:
- 40% of the world doesn’t have access to proper sanitation facilities, affecting the health of those surrounded by defecated areas.
- On average, 57 sheets of toilet paper are used per day in America and 37 gallons of water are wasted to make one toilet paper roll.
- 15 million trees per year = production of toilet paper rolls.
Solution? TUSHY! By upgrading the first world experience while bringing light to the global sanitation crisis, Miki designed an alternative product, bidet, that can be attached to your toilet bowls for paper-less cleaning of your bums. What’s even crazier is that this simple shift in consumer behavior saves 26 million combined cases of hemorrhoids, UTIs and yeast infection per year. Following the social aspect behind THINX, TUSHY also partners with Samagra so for every TUSHY sold, one family gains access to clean community toilets in developing countries.
“We set the trend and people follow us, which is so wild!”
If you’ve lived in NYC for the past few years and even if you’ve never heard about Miki (low chances), there is absolutely no way you have escaped the genius THINX subway advertisements. As big fans of Miki’s creative work, we tried to get some insights into the creative process. “We have an amazing design team that has worked together for a while and they know what really could be on trend further down the road.”
The core strategy behind their eye catching visuals is understanding this look classy, sound sassy voice. “We really want to be colloquial and write as if we were texting our best friends.” More importantly, every campaign is launched after it goes through“is it unbelievably fridge-worthy?” Yes, Miki and her team literally have your fridge in mind and want to be placed next to photos of your loved ones and those polaroids you oh so dearly love! Thus, everything is designed from that lens.
“Anyone can do anything if they just put on their running shoes and walk out the door each day.”
- Have teams for everything and do regular check-ins (this is how Miki stays sane!).
- It’s okay to not have mentors! Sometimes, it’s better to figure the do’s and don'ts on your own.
- Doing cool shit requires doing and working through bullshit. So, walk the talk!
- Failure is just an opportunity to learn. In her own words, “I feel people right now are less resilient than they used to be. It’s important to develop that resilience to things that will set you back.”
- The world ‘anxiety’ roots from the word anxietas, which means not knowing. The best way to combat anxiety and the unknown is by taking positive action every single day. Thanks Miki’s fiancé, Andrew, for these words of wisdom!
All statistics and photos courtesy of THINX, TUSHY and Miki Agrawal.