Miki Agrawal of Tushy

We Spoke to Miki Agrawal of Tushy on How to Rebuild in the Post COVID Economy

As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Miki Agrawal.

Miki is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of TUSHY which upgrades the American bathroom experience with a modern, best-in-class, affordable bidet. Wiping with toilet paper after you poop is not only ineffective but exacerbates chronic health issues (like UTIs, hemorrhoids, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, anal fissures, anal itching (from wet wipes too!)), not to mention kills 15 million trees to make the toilet paper. Toilet paper was introduced to America in the 1800s and Miki and her team agree that it’s time to get our butts into the 21st century. Each purchase helps Samagra combat the global sanitation crisis affecting 40% of the world. To date, TUSHY has helped save over 2 million trees from getting flushed down the toilet and have built clean toilets in India for over 60,000 families.

Miki is also proudly a published author of two #1 best-selling books: Do Cool Shit: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business & Live Happily Ever After & Disrupt-Her: A Manifesto For The Modern Woman. She is an identical twin and Irish triplet; the daughter of a Japanese mom and an Indian dad; an OG French-Canadian; a Wall Street dropout; a former professional soccer player; a Cornell grad… and a proud mama. ;-)

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

It took me a year to launch TUSHY and raise the money for it. The stars really aligned because in my first meeting in 2014, I raised $400K to start TUSHY. It was the universe giving me a wink that I was headed in the right direction. Investors want to invest in unorthodox brands like TUSHY that are disrupting the status quo, and also in a business that is basically creating a category. For all of my other companies, it took me a LONG time to raise the money so this was REFRESHING to say the least :-)

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

My favorite saying is “iteration is perfection”. I think mistakes are key in learning what not to do, so I always cherish them more than anything. I think with TUSHY, it was challenging at first because I launched my other company THINX around the same time in 2014 and I had to put someone in place to run TUSHY until 2017, which was when I stepped into it fully.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight were incredibly impactful for me because it reinforced to me that I too can be really unorthodox in my thinking and that could create exponential opportunities. I also felt understood when Phil kept talking about the issues he faced having to pay his suppliers while marketing his business at the same time and the constant push and pull around a limited supply of capital. Working capital is so important in business and it was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one dealing with that and was on the edge of my seat reading his book and asking myself “how is he going to get out of THIS financial jam this time!?” and he kept pulling rabbits out of hats. If there is a will, there is a way, truly.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?

I think the future of business is social entrepreneurship. Our giveback at TUSHY is several fold: When I found out that using a bidet instead of toilet paper can help save 15 million trees from getting flushed down the toilet every year, I grew even more passionate to create TUSHY and make bidets mainstream in the US. To date, we have helped save over 2 million trees from getting flushed down the toilet.

The second part of our giveback is helping fight the global sanitation crisis. To date, we have helped over 60,000 families gain access to clean toilets in India and we will not stop till that number is in the millions!

And then finally, we believe in whole body health. We have helped so many communities like the communities with mobility issues who can’t go to the bathroom on their own, communities with GI issues, communities with health issues related to that area of our body, and we are equally proud to help people eliminate shame around that magical area of our body that feel pleasure, excrete things our bodies don’t need and that create babies!

Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?

It takes the same amount of energy to go BIG or go SMALL. There are only so many hours in the day and I always challenge myself to dream BIG and go for the big ideas unabashedly. So many people are as afraid of success as they are with failure and that’s why I’ve eliminated those terms altogether and call everything “opportunities to learn and grow”.

Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I have a sensitive heart and was worried about seeing anyone for a while because of all of the fear mongering happening online and didn’t know how the virus could affect my body. So to help appease my growing fear of “people who are spreading the virus”, I created a fun art project called HumansAreFuckingAwesome.com (def follow us on instagram @humansarefuckinawesome ) to remind myself and others that humans are truly awesome! The aim is to help spread awesomeness, not germs! :-) Do check it out! We post one awesome human story per day on instagram and on the site.

Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I have to say, we were one of the lucky ones. As the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 hit and everyone was buying out the toilet paper, so, so, so many people turned to TUSHY. We had spent the last 6 years really educating the consumer on why TUSHY is so much cleaner than using dry toilet paper so I guess they took the leap to try it when toilet paper ran out. We even had our first million dollar day! That was a milestone for me as an entrepreneur for sure. Our sales were up 10X for a couple of months but they settled at around 5X what we were projecting, so it’s still incredible.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Definitely working on my art project @humansarefuckinawesome has been a JOY for me to celebrate and champion other awesome humans. I also do Daybreaker’s livestream dance parties every single Saturday morning and it’s the MOST game-changing, uplifting, magical experience that makes me feel so, so, so connected to everyone around the world! Over 2000 people sign up every single week from around the world and it’s truly an incredible experience. If you want to join me in dancing up a storm every Saturday morning, get tix at Daybreaker.com/live :-)

Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?

While it has been tough to see so many businesses get disrupted, layoffs happening, recession approaching and sickness counts growing (yet showing signs of curve flattening), I do think this pandemic is a massive CALL for positive disruption too. 1) It’s a call for disruption in the way we think about ourselves in the context of others and the world, 2) it’s a call for disruption in the way things currently operate in business and government and 3) it’s a call for disruption within ourselves.

How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?

Moving forward, I think we will all likely be called on to practice better hygiene and become extra considerate of others about that — i.e. After all this, if we feel slightly under the weather or still have coughs or runny noses, I hope we practice JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) and choose to listen to our bodies and cancel or postpone plans, and wear masks if flying or traveling with a cough or runny nose. I doubt we will see people at hot yoga classes anymore who are hacking the last big of their cough out during class, you know? That’s a good thing! :-)

I think the call for disruption within ourselves is the most important thing to focus on while we are quarantined at home. There is no better time than now to take a good look at ourselves and ask ourselves the big questions of life, rather than distracting ourselves on social media or Netflix for hours on end. This is the time to really do the deeper work and I have been reading a ton of amazing books that are helping me go deeper within myself (check out Come Home To Yourself by @sadhviji, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, BELONG by @love.radha and of course Disrupt-Her (http://disrupther.co) to disrupt your life in the most powerful way possible, now more than ever), I started asking my parents questions about their lives so I can better understand why I think the way I do and what their lives were like growing up (it’s wild that most of us don’t know!), I have been journaling a TON and it has been eye opening to say the least!

Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?

I think this pandemic is a call for disruption in business — a complete shakeup of all major industries — and I think a lot of old school thinking will be replaced with fresh, innovative and creative ideas that run business in a whole new way. I believe that there will be massive change in the fields of education, live entertainment, medicine, travel, as well as the business of startups, voting, banking, all forms of shopping etc etc. People will be forced to look at their daily habits (like using toilet paper) and switch to more environmentally friendly, conscious products, and choose things that last longer instead of single use products (like @hellotushy).

Businesses will also stay afloat because their community will make sure that it keeps going, which is also a testament to the strength of the business. It’s even a great thing for the businesses that don’t make it because they will be forced to level up and rethink the way they do business altogether and focus on the things that are essential for humans and the planet.

Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?

I would encourage everyone to GET CREATIVE and find something essential and sustainable to get passionate about :-)

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In my book Disrupt-Her, I talk a lot about the concept of “iteration is perfection”. It’s truly the iterative process that’s perfect, not “being perfect”. Making ever-changing micro-improvements and realizations and adjustments and calling ourselves out when we’re taking steps backwards is the way to keep iterating forward. The minute we stop and stagnate, is when the lifeblood dies. It’s all about moving, inch by inch or mile by mile, but as long as we’re moving! Dreaming big is key and making big moves is key and a great goal to have, but making constant small improvements is awesome too :-)

How can our readers further follow your work?

Definitely check out my Instagram at @mikiagrawal as well on my website at www.mikiagrawal.com. I also have a weekly newsletter where I share business wisdom, motivation and creative thoughts that will hopefully make you go “hah, that was interesting!” and/or “I am excited to take action. People can also text me questions! 917–933–3036 and I usually respond the same day! Do also follow @hellotushy and @humansarefuckinawesome :-)