When we first met Miki we instantly knew we wanted her to be part of #thisishowiwasborn. After all, she's not only a twin but an Irish triplet! We had to hear her birth story. Miki is a badass SHE-EO, entrepreneur, author and an inspiring social activist. She's the founder of Thinx and Icon -the period and pee-proof underwear that allows us to feel more human during times of need! And is bringing back the bidet with her company Tushy -a more modern way to keep your butt super clean to help prevent infection (and skidmarks). Her book 'Do Cool Sh*t: Quit your day job, start your own business, and live happily ever after' is an entrepreneurship manifesto turned social movement and business bootcamp. She's not just a dreamer, but a real doer and a big time creator!
So here's Miki on why her dad calls her Bonus, how she's birthed her 3 babies (businesses) and how she's learned to recalibrate her mind and body to stay healthy and sane!
How Were You Born?
I was born in 1979. My mom is Egyptian and my dad is from India. They met in Canada, fell in love and moved to Montreal. Back then the ultrasounds were gritty, and I was hidden behind my twin sister in the womb so they didn’t even know that I was going to be born! Though, throughout her pregnancy my mom said that every time she slept on her left she’d feel kicking, and then when she switched to her right side, she still felt kicking and she'd say, “I don’t understand how I’m feeling kicking on both sides. It’s so weird.” We were a month and a half premature, and they found out about a month before that, or maybe more like two or three weeks prior, that they were having twins. They were not prepared and completely flabbergasted. In fact, they had bought a house with only 3 bedrooms! That’s why my Dad calls me Bonus. When he's mad at me he says, “Bonus, come here!” I was born breech -butt first, and I’m the baby of the family by 5 minutes, so I actually got a dollar less in allowance every month, and I also got to do less chores. So that was good.
My older sister Yuri is only 11 months older than us (my mom got pregnant with us literally right after she was born) so we are Irish triplets.
Oh my gosh- three babies at the same time! Bless her heart, that is some crazy strength!
I know! And my mom told me that I would wake up at like 1 am and my sister would wake up at 2 am, and then my other sister would wake up at 3 am, and I would wake up at 4 am. Every hour one of us would wake up or have to be fed. They didn't sleep for 2 or 3 years!
Did your mom ever share what the labor itself was like?
She said it was pretty fast because we were both so tiny. We were less than 5 pounds each. She says it was quite wonderful actually.
What images or thoughts come to mind when you think about 'birth'?
I just watched “The Business of Being Born” and I’m terrified. Surprisingly, until I watched the movie I never actually saw a baby coming out of a woman’s vagina in that way, aside from pictures and cartoons. You know what I mean? I just never did. So I watched that movie and it was so intense -the pain the women were in… it was just a lot. I mean, I believe in modern medicine in a lot of ways. I don’t necessarily think I need to prove to the world that “I can do this.” I feel like I’m already proving that to the world in other ways. But I’ll probably try doing a home birth. But I also know the whole point of modern medicine is to remove pain. That’s what anesthesia is and that’s why operations can happen. And there's beauty in that. So I get the endorphins... I get the idea of it. But watching them go through so much pain and suffering seemed gratuitous -not necessary. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m a little scared to be honest; It’s a little scary.
BB: Totally. Most of what we know of birth comes from TV and movies -which is completely inaccurate. When we first started watching birth videos, our initial reaction was also like, "Oh my God, what the fuck, that’s crazy!" Obviously having been around real births our point of view has changed tremendously but we totally hear you and can relate -as can most people, we're sure.
HOW IS your birth story telling of you as a person?
Being born a twin, that’s quite miraculous. We were born so tiny that we were incubated. We were supposed to be there for like 3 weeks or a month but after 5 days they discharged us because they were like, “You basically drank all the milk for all the babies in this place.” We gained a lot of weight very quickly. And we were really healthy within the first few days so they discharged us right away. We powered through!
BB: Yes, well you definitely seem to be someone who is pretty awesome at powering through! Which is a nice segue to hearing about what you are currently birthing. Actually, it's kinda funny because your mom birthed three babies almost at the same time (with Yuri being a bit older) and you have three businesses you birthed almost at once (Thinx, Icon and Tushy with Thinx being a bit older).
MA: Yeah, that’s definitely an interesting insight. It’s the power of 3!
SO TELL US HOW you BIRTHed THESE BABIES?
You know, it really all started with Thinx. Our periods -the most natural thing that every woman experiences and the thing that literally perpetuates the human species- is experienced in ways that are uncomfortable, and messy and frustrating and don't work. And so this was the first problem we wanted to solve with our product: making the period experience easier for women. I'm actually wearing them right now!
The second problem we wanted to address was the fact that there is so much shame around the topic and that it's a subject that people really shy away from talking about. It makes men uncomfortable. Why? We are all here because of it. So instead of making women feel ashamed and uncomfortable, there should be a level of gratitude for going through this every month to continue our species. So we really wanted to change the conversation around periods.
And this then lead to other discoveries of other topics we were too ashamed to address, like incontinence, which by the way, most women will experience -especially during pregnancy and the postpartum period. But all you can get is something like Depends and other horrible diaper-like products that make woman feel unsexy, uncomfortable, and insecure. It's a $6.8 billion dollar category and growing as the baby boomers keep getting older. And all these people don’t want to look less sexy, or less beautiful. They want to feel completely in their power at that age -which is difficult in a diaper! So we thought, what if we made something sexy, beautiful, seamless, that actually works. That's how Icon was born. We also have so many customers that have had babies and are so grateful for this product because they have enough other things to deal with.
And then with Tushy it was again the feeling of, "Why aren't we talking about this?" We are killing 50 million trees per year to make toilet paper that doesn't actually do the job. You know there are 26 million combined cases of chronic urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and hemorrhoids that all are activated by use of toilet paper, by not properly cleaning yourself so that leftover fecal matter just sits there for the whole day. It’s of course going to cause problems down there. So Tushy is the obvious solution -you can help the environment and your hygiene… especially during your cycle- at any point when you are bleeding or have discharge.
aside from the product innovation aspect of all 3 businesses, there's a big social component as well. tell us a bit about it.
Yes! I think about where I come from… My father came to this country from India with $5 in his pocket and that could have been my reality. I could have been born in India. I could have had no opportunity, no access to any product education…but he built this life for us.
So with Thinx, we support AFRIpads which trains women in Uganda to sew and sell washable, reusable cloth pads so girls can stay in school when they are on their periods. To date we’ve helped over 50,000 girls go back to school. We’re also launching a Brooklyn Girls Club so women can learn how to get menstrual products safely, and learn about their bodies, entrepreneurship, personal finance… We are launching it around the world and we are so excited about that. We just hired our first foundation employee!
And with Icon we partner with the Fistula Foundation to help fund surgeries for women that suffer from such tears that often leave them shunned and abandoned by their husbands and families. And with Tushy, Samagra which runs a clean toilet project all over India.
Wow. That's amazing! How do you have the energy to do all this?!
Well, it takes a village, right?
You mentioned earlier that while watching The Business of Being Born your reaction was "Oh my god, that looks so painful!" In birthing these babies were there times where you were like, "Oh my god this hurts so much!"?
100%. Oh, yeah. It’s not for the light-hearted. You know, it’s really a roller coaster of emotions as you’re building something. And over time it does get easier, but there are still lots of challenges. I mean, we're talking about period underwear, changing behavior and breaking taboos on things that most people have a hard time even talking about. Not to mention men! There are so many challenges! We still aren't allowed to talk about periods on national television. No network will cover what we're doing. Very few model agencies will let their models work on period campaigns. Every single day is a battle... but it's also fun as shit. I love it. I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
WELL, POWERING THROUGH SEEMS TO BE IN YOUR BLOOD SO WE THINK YOU'LL KILL IT WHEN YOU'RE READY TO BIRTH SOME HUMAN BABIES!
ANY #BRILLIANTBITS TO SHARE?
The body is absolutely miraculous! I find it miraculous that you put food inside your body, it processes it, takes all the good nutrients and then it removes all the bad parts through your anus. And I love the fact that every single month, your ovaries produce an egg and if it's not fertilized, your body knows to shed the uterine lining.
And you know, I’ve had three knee reconstruction surgeries, and after every operation I thought I’d never be able to walk again. I was in so much pain and so uncomfortable. But right now I'm sitting Indian style and I’m totally fine. The body heals.
I also have a thyroid condition that has really been challenging, and a lot of it was stress related. It was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and to recalibrate and eliminate stressful people in my life... A reminder to make sure I meditate every morning; make sure I eliminate bad stuff. To be very, very careful in what I eat and what kind of energy is around me. Just be a lot more thoughtful. And with all of that, realizing how my mental and my physical beings are so interconnected... its crazy! I never thought that something in my mind could affect my health. Now I’m back to a full bill of health because I spent time focusing on recalibrating my mind to improve my health. Even if you eat perfectly well and workout, you can still have a heart attack from stress. Your mind, body and spirit are so interconnected. There’s so much magic in that! I mean it’s miraculous, all of it is just insane right?
BB: We couldn't agree more!