Hi. I’m Manasa. I want to start out by saying how humbled I am by the overwhelming support and encouragement I’ve received since launching Ahimsa. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m on a mission to promote healthy children, shine light on important issues like food insecurity and encourage others to join the efforts to protect our planet. I believe Ahimsa can leave a beautiful footprint for generations to come.
After my husband and I became parents, we began to educate ourselves further on healthy food practices and the impacts on our environment. Although we did make the mistake of buying some plastic dinnerware with cute characters on it when our twins were infants - I was soon met with my mother standing in the kitchen, hands on hips, lecturing me about the dangers of plastic, particularly with heat. The next day, I came home from work to find she had replaced all of my plastic with traditional stainless steel dinnerware that she had brought back from a recent trip to India.
When my fellow residency colleagues and I were chatting about the 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) recommendation to use alternatives to plastics, such as glass or stainless steel, I sent them a picture of what we used daily from India. I will let you imagine my mother’s response when I told her the AAP agreed with her. It was the biggest “I told you so" moment in the history of motherhood.
I quickly realized the lack of options for these types of products here in the USA. Billions of Asians have used stainless steel as a standard for generations - they can’t all be wrong, I thought. However, I knew that metal at the dining table in America would require some convincing. I wanted to get plastic off the table and put something safe, but still beautiful, on it. Since necessity is the mother of invention, I thought about how I could make stainless steel attractive for kids. I started to voraciously read about the research that had been done by the AAP, the process of steel molding, the process of transforming stainless steel to take on color and anything else I could learn. I called numerous manufacturers and finally found one that could help me develop my products. So, naturally, I asked my husband to get on a plane with me to fly to India to check it all out - and so we did. Because he rocks.
Every single day I run through a series of emotions. I’m excited, determined, anxious, have bouts of self-doubt, but then I will get a text from someone or maybe a whisper from my husband reminding me why I’m on this mission. Some people may think I’m crazy trying to pull this off while working as a Pediatrician and parenting three kids. Crazy? Maybe. But, I like to categorize it as passionate.
When we received our prototypes, my six year old daughter looked at me and asked “Mommy, did you make these? Are you an inventor? Wow! That's so cool! I want to be an inventor.” That was my defining moment. While I was knee deep in the details of trying to build a business, my children were watching and learning. I had already been thinking about filing a patent application. Did you know in 2016 women made up only 12 percent of inventors granted patents? With that pure and innocent encouragement from my daughter, I began writing a patent for our nesting spoon that night.
I’ve read that an entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and build an airplane on the way down. I feel like that often. I’m just figuring it all out with the best of my abilities and putting in every ounce I have. Luckily, I have recently found some teammates, a group of women who are like-minded and determined to help Ahimsa's mission. It’s so much better to assemble that plane with someone holding the instructions, another getting tools and another shining a flashlight, so we can see what we are doing.
Lifelong learning is a core principle in medicine and I have also found this to be true in motherhood. We can’t stop learning. There is always something to educate yourself about, so as part of our mission, we want to bring you blog posts with pertinent information regarding child nutrition, environmental protection, food insecurity and other topics that we are passionate about, so we can learn together.
Stay tuned, my friends. In a gentle way, we plan to shake the world.
PS - to learn more about the Ahimsa Story