It was a Saturday morning, and my parents were home. My mom was in the kitchen boiling milk and making Poha for us. As always, I entered the kitchen to see my mom cook — a practice that I have followed ever since I was 14, which sparked my passion for food, so much so that I turned this passion into a career.
She took a small glass filled with 1/8th milk and opened a tin box quickly to add 2 tbsps. of powder to the milk. She mixed the solution vigorously and consumed the entire solution as a shot, all of this in less than 30sec.
I was surprised by her speed and the way she consumed the product. I asked my mother what that was, and she replied, “it is my supplement, beta, as directed by my nutritionist”. Her next step made me more curious. She took another glass, filled to the brim with milk and added 2 tbsps. of the supplement for my dad. In contrast to my mother, my father mixed it slowly and consumed it sip by sip.
What astonished me was how both my parents had very different reactions to the same product. To satisfy my curiosity, I asked my mother why she took the product as a shot and she quickly replied, “I hate the smell, taste and aroma of this product but I have to take it because of my nutritionist.”
Moreover, she told me how she hates taking her Calcium pills and B-complex supplements as they make her feel sick. To my surprise, I found both the bottles on the kitchen counter with their seals intact. She had bought them but never consumed them.
When I asked her how she would then fulfil her supplemental needs, she hesitated and then said that she will eat spinach, walnuts or drink milk instead. That wasn’t the solution as the deficiency is extreme, but I knew I could not have forced her to take the pills because of the stigma associated with them.
To understand further, I spoke to a few nutritionists and my mother’s friends in Jaipur. I came to the conclusion that this is a major problem as this behaviour is common amongst a majority of women. In addition to that, my friends who owned bars in Jaipur educated me on the differences in the taste & aroma preferences between men & women — wherein men will go for strong, women will go for pleasant. Most of us don’t realize but women have a heightened sense of taste & smell.
What irritated and angered me the most was that the deficiency of just 2 nutrients was the reason for my mother’s pain and suffering. I decided to find solutions which were convenient and tasty for my mother and could also solve this issue, but in vain.
Thus, the journey of &Me began. A venture to solve my mother’s problems, a venture to ensure that no other women in the world faced the same pain and suffering my mother did and a venture that will solve for Calcium, Iron and other mineral & vitamin deficiencies in women.
I spoke to a number of women from all age groups, spoke to experts — nutritionists, dietitians, gynaecologists & also to Ayurveda gurus to figure out the right problem and the best solution for the same. My discussions revealed that most women in India suffered from Osteoporosis or Osteopenia (onset of Osteoporosis) and almost 50% of women are Anaemic (deficient in Iron). Surprisingly, none of my consumers highlighted either but rather focused on functionality. Statements such as “Yaar, even if you do 5% to get rid of pain during my Periods it will be helpful” and “Bloating is the biggest pain for me during PMS” were common.
I realized that I needed to fulfil what my consumers want — a single functional remedy that not only alleviates a condition but also reduces deficiency.
"to never let another woman suffer in pain & be nutritionally deficient"
1. Functionality — Ayurveda
2. Deficiency — Vitamins and Minerals
3. Taste & Aroma — Fruits & Vegetables
My mother is the reason for my existence, my upbringing, values and passion. #Sheisthereason for what I am today and the reason for the very existence of &Me. She has been my motivation in this journey to solve for Women’s Health and her pain kept me focused towards my mission to create something that serves a larger purpose and a bigger impact in this world (not just another “Me too” beverage brand).
This Mother’s Day I am acknowledging that #sheisthereason, and I urge each one of you to acknowledge the same and share a small story with your mom to show her that she is.