Miki Agrawal On Pushing Back Against Yourself

Kiki L’Italien regularly interviews boundary-breakers, innnovators, and industry disruptors. On her YouTube interview series, L’Italien delves into what makes some entrepreneurs want to break the status quo. Recently, L’Italien sat down with social entrepreneur Miki Agrawal, the founder of innovative companies like Wild, Thinx, and Tushy. Throughout her meaningful career, Agrawal has built successful businesses in antiquated and traditionally taboo spaces, including, pizza, periods, and poop. In addition to running successful companies, Miki Agrawal is a renowned public speaker and thought leader, often lending her insights and industry experiences to inspire others across various platforms.

Keep reading for a snippet from the conversation:

Miki Agrawal On The Ones Who Have Your Back

Miki Agrawal: I think for me, like starting anyone in my business, I never would have been able to really push through if I’ve not had a really solid foundation of friendship around me.

Kiki L’Italien: Have you always had a followed friendship?

Miki Agrawal: Yes. I got an identical twin sister.

Kiki L’Italien: That’s I mean, so I had the opportunity to interview Radha. She was, oh my gosh. I mean she is amazing. And I’m just like okay good genes. Good like family. Well something went really right there.

Miki Agrawal: Well I think it starts with having a buddy that’s always like yeah I love that idea. Go get it. Oh my God. Early morning dance party. Yes go do it. Lt’s like kind of like you really egg each other on in a really positive way and you support. So, you always had someone to laugh at your jokes and so I think I was like born in community. And so, I think as a result all of the ideas that came in my career of entrepreneurship really had a foundation of solid friendship. So, with the restaurants then after them I brought in a partner to run the restaurants, and so I freed up my time to work on my next business which is the period proof underwear company.

Kiki L’Italien: Yes thanks yes.

Miki Agrawal: And also a zany idea people were like no one’s going to ever wear like underwear that you bleed into, sound weird. No one’s ever going to talk About a woman’s period because it’s so taboo and shameful and all these things. When I was first starting out, it was none of these conversations were happening. Not one, nobody no press wanted to talk to me.

Kiki L’Italien: Right.

On Getting Industry Pushback

Miki Agrawal: Nobody no investor wanted to talk to me, because they were like it’s gross. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s weird. We already have a solution for it and it’s just like the solution doesn’t work.

Kiki L’Italien: It’s not a good solution.

Miki Agrawal: They leak. They’re terrible for the environment.

Kiki L’Italien: Right.

Miki Agrawal: They don’t feel good. They’re just they’re fat and they’re all invented by men.

Kiki L’Italien: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: And so there’s such an opportunity to create a product for women by women and also one that was an elevated experience and one that also supported women in the developing world who didn’t have access to menstrual products.

Kiki L’Italien: Has the pushback ever, has it ever given you pause? So, you are a disrupter because recently and tell me if I’m getting this wrong. But isn’t it like the ads for Hello Tushy another one of your companies? Like isn’t it true that they were deemed like inappropriate for like the subway system here or something?

Miki Agrawal: The thing is like the word what is appropriate and inappropriate to societal preconditions and societal standards is all made up, right. We have decided to over sexualize parts of women’s bodies that are literally used to feed our children. We are creating these sort of like rules and guidelines based on centuries past around what people of the past said and oh and you’re being uncouth. Because you’re talking about periods and poop and pee. Why are you doing that? I’m like, yeah. Last time I checked, you pooped.

Kiki L’Italien: Yeah.

Miki Agrawal: Last time I checked, you pooped.

Why Can’t We Just Talk About it?

Kiki L’Italien: For something that we know that we like that it’s just the thing that happened. Why is it that we can’t talk? I mean, this is the thing we should be able to do, right.

Miki Agrawal: Right. It’s like we’ve all had children. We talked when we’re raising our young children. All we talked about was poop. They made it all of a sudden. I came a point where it became uncomfortable to talk about. Why? Because society said so.

Kiki L’Italien: Right.

Miki Agrawal: And it’s just like, who is society? Why are they making these rules, and I think that’s why with this book Disrupt Her.

Kiki L’Italien: Yeah

Miki Agrawal:  But so then, so kind of going back to the businesses. The real came on building things was really all about people not want to talk about it. So then it became like okay let’s come up with all these fun campaigns to talk about it.

Kiki L’Italien: Yeah.

The Power of “Fun” Campaigns

Miki Agrawal: And one of them was a New York City subway campaign where we want just use the word period in the subways. Underwear for women with periods and they bet they were like you cannot use the word period in the subway.

Kiki L’Italien: I mean can we just talk about the fact that that we now know what, like they’re establishing lines of what like what are these? What are these like certain moral? I don’t know what that even is. Like okay. We can talk about all this other stuff. We can still, but we’re just going to like we’re not getting periods.

Miki Agrawal: No, the line was like what if a 9 year old boy sees these ads.

Kiki L’Italien: That’s insane.

Miki Agrawal: And I was like, what’s wrong with that. It’s actually interesting. I was in a meeting just the other day with a really an older gentleman and I was like I was talking about my history of my companies and I was talking about periods and he was like stop. And I was like what? He was like, I don’t want to get into this. It could be a harassment conversation so I don’t want to talk about it.

Kiki L’Italien: No.

On Knocking Down Boundaries

Miki Agrawal: I was, like I don’t want to talk about, you don’t want to talk about periods. I’m just like alright whatever. Happy not to but just so you are here because of it. Without that blood, you would not be here. Moving on. It happened this like a couple week like a week ago.

Kiki L’Italien: Clearly though. I mean I don’t understand how, so this is actually good for us to hear because someone can read your story and they can assume that well maybe you’ve just knocked down those boundaries and you just keep going along. You’re not running into people pushing back and you’re saying even a week ago. I was in a discussion where this happened. People are still pushing back and I’m still trudging forward.

Miki Agrawal: Absolutely.

Kiki L’Italien: But you would think that an investor or anyone, any kind of conversation that you have like this. Would look at your track record. Would look at the success that you’ve had and say okay you know what, I think now I will even if I feel uncomfortable I think that this warrants a conversation.

Miki Agrawal: Yeah. I mean a lot of people do but there’s some really old school really set in their ways people that eventually are going to die. You know what I mean? And then the next generation and when they die the next generation will get less and less, like kind of triggered by it.