Miki Agrawal is a passionate purpose-driven entrepreneur known for creating innovative products to shift consciousness around taboo topics and women’s health. She is the co-founder of THINX period-proof underwear, the co-founder of WILD, the first gluten-free pizza restaurant, and the founder and CEO of Tushy, a modern bidet brand focused on improving the American bathroom experience. She is also the author of “Do Cool Shit” and the recently released manifesto for the modern woman, “DISRUPT-HER.” Miki lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Andrew and her son, Hiro.
What does self-care mean to you?
I think self-care really means doing that which lights you up. The thing that makes you wake up with excitement — to learn, to grow, to improve, to be with people who really see you and love you for who you are. Self-care includes making sure my body is healthy… doing a little bit of working out, even 20 or 30 minutes, three or four times a week. I also eat really healthy. A big one for me is community, and having great love in my life and a beautiful child, and really loving what I do.
Describe your self-care ritual.
I get a 90-minute massage once a week, which I think is so important. I think people should prioritize body work over going out one night. I don’t spend money on coffee, so I put money towards regular body work and it’s so worth it. I pretty much only drink hot water with lemon and ginger, constantly flushing my body and my liver. I always have a glass of hot water next to my computer everywhere I go; I do this so that I’m constantly hydrated (and peeing clear! It’s how you know you’re hydrated, when it’s not yellow, so check your pee.) And of course, just eating well; I have coconut rice and vegetables most days, some chicken if it’s organic and some fish, a very clean and pretty much Japanese-ish diet. I see my friends once or twice a week, which I think is so important for your soul.
"I love being around people who inspire me — I’m very inspired by all of my friends — and I love spending time with people who are living their authentic truth, who live openly. And that’s it; living in pure truth."
Wow, I just started doing Transcendental Meditation, and it’s really light touch and it’s ultimately allowing your body to be in a deep, restful state twice a day. Allowing it to heal and repair and letting your cortisol levels go down, you get out of “fight or flight,” and it really gives you the space to think straight, think clearly and give yourself a “beat” before you react. For me, being an entrepreneur and having to react a lot, this really supports me in giving me that moment before I react, and giving me the space to think clearly and more effectively.. Some meditations are hard for me to just sit there, but TM is a vacation...like being at the ocean. You allow thoughts to come in and you gently let them go. It’s a really unique practice and it’s the first time in my life where I look forward to meditation. It’s just giving yourself the space to think clearly. To just be and allow what comes and constantly get in line with your mantra without effort. To give my body the ability to repair and heal.
What was it like healing yourself from a thyroid condition?
I had a very acute hypothyroid condition, and a lot of it was because I was in a stressed out state. I was very misaligned with a lot of aspects of my previous business — I wasn’t in alignment — and when that happens, your body stresses out. We know that the body and mind are intrinsically connected, and so it manifested in my throat chakra, which is so interesting because I felt like I really couldn’t speak my truth. And as soon as I shared my truth and started meditating to help ease the stress, as well as massages, acupuncture, restructuring my company, changing my diet (no sugar, gluten, dairy, processed foods), and lots of hydration and some supplements (vitamin b12, D3 and Zinc), I felt a real change. Now my thyroid is normal and I no longer have any of the scary side effects.
How has motherhood changed you?
I feel like I’m just an enhanced, happier, more joyful version of myself. I now really prioritize the things that matter and let the small things go (for the most part), and just really choose to be happy. Because ultimately, my baby is such a sponge for energy, and he can really tell if I’m being authentic. So it’s just having to let go of any kind of frustration and be really in the space of openness and joy and glee when I see him. Ever time I do, I’m genuinely filled with such authentic joy.
Because I’m given the space and permission to be who I am and work on the projects I care about, when I do see him, I want to be in complete support of him — and he feels it.
"I dedicate my book to my son, Hiro, and I say: 'Hiro, I promise to never lose myself for you, because the more me I can be, the more I can inspire you to be you.' I think oftentimes moms feel like they have to sacrifice things, but it was really important for me to put a good system in place to do the opposite, and not feel burdened by it. It comes with having a support system, for sure, but it’s also a state of mind."
If you want to be stressed about it, you will be stressed about it, and if you want to be joyful about it, you will be joyful about it. Having gone through a lot of ups and downs with my businesses, I feel so exponentially grateful that I have him in my life.
What inspired DISRUPT-HER and what’s the purpose of the book?
My book, DISRUPT-HER, looks at 13 areas of our lives where society has a chokehold on how we can think, act and be. There’s a real societal preconception of how we should behave, and I start with sharing the common belief, sharing the historical context of where that belief comes from, and then I disrupt them one by one, giving readers the opportunity to disrupt it for themselves.
It’s a wakeup call for women to give ourselves permission to examine our lives and realize that we are following these made up rules by “society,” which is made up of people, who are no different than you and me. And we are still learning like that... we are still sitting in rows at tables taking standardized tests, which are literally from the days of the industrial revolution when people were being trained to become factory workers and COGs of the machine. And the fact that we are still learning like that — it’s why we’re on Adderall, it’s why there are all of these medications, why we’re addicted to technology. It’s just not right. The way “society” says, “you can’t talk about this or that because it’s shameful, or you can’t switch careers because you’ll be seen as a failure, or you can’t talk about money because it’s tacky.” It’s so frustrating that we don’t feel like we have agency, and yet we do.
The reason I wrote the book is because in my experience building THINX, Tushy, even Wild, the gluten-free pizza concept, back in the day, in 2004 and 2005 when no one was talking about gluten-free, it was such an uphill battle.
Everyone told me that no one would try my product or invest in it...that it was a dumb idea. They said, 'No press would talk to you about this,' or 'America’s not ready to talk about these things.' It was one thing after another and in the beginning we couldn’t raise any money, but people did want to try these products — they just needed permission. And now these companies are valued at well over $150 million.
It shows that “society” is really wrong about a lot of things, because it’s made up of people from 100 years ago. We’re told to get serious when we grow up, we’re told to get our heads out of the clouds, and to be quiet and not talk out of turn, and we get in line and slowly forget who we are and what our creative potential is. The common belief is that you need to get serious when you grow up, but you don’t. You can still live in a childlike state of curiosity, playfulness and awe, and you can be a responsible adult at the same time — you can be both.
It also talks about feminism, the patriarchy, and girl-on-girl hate, which no one ever likes to talk about. We always talk about the “hater” as someone else, but the “hater” exists within all of us. And so often we hate on others when we are feeling insecure about ourselves, and really, it’s an opportunity to turn to yourself and self-reflect. It’s not about being perfect. It’s the iterative process that’s perfect. It’s the process of making micro-improvements that’s perfect.
"When you’re having a really hard time — when you’re in the eye of the most painful storm — it’s about learning to become the warrior gatekeeper of your mind, which basically means that when a negative thought comes in your head, you catch that thought and you name it. And then you practice being really observant to your thoughts. Rather than let it fester, you catch it at the gate of your mind and you basically organize it."
For me, shifting my body really helps, so sometimes when I have a negative thought, I’ll stand up and throw it back with positivity. It’s not being in denial; it’s transmuting hate to something positive. It’s an actionable thing we can do to really turn hate into love. And it’s really honoring our process of going through the pain and feeling through all of it, without a knee-jerk reaction. I think the book is a reflection of that; I channeled all of this negative energy and turned it into something positive — positive meaning that it’s a tactical guidebook.
What do you want to say to your son’s generation and the next generation of leaders?
Just to follow that thing that lights you up, and trust that your true self knows. There is an internal thing guiding us that we often ignore, which is why so many people are self-medicating and numbing... because they’re not following their true light.
"Celebrate what lights you up."
Editor's notes: interview conducted on January 29, 2019 and edited for length and clarity.