New Delhi: In 2019, Priyanka Raina, a mother of two young children, co-founded Maate, a baby care brand that brings high-quality, chemical-free products to nurture your baby. As Priyanka says, Maate was “born out of a quest of a mother”. She recounts,
When I became a mother myself, I searched the market for products which I could trust, which I wanted to use for my own children, which were all-natural, premium and efficacious. And because I wanted to give something like that to my own children, I got really interested in this space, and I started digging into what it takes to make a product, what goes inside the product, and what ingredients are useful for children and what works and what does not.
Priyanka is a firm believer of Ayurveda and how our grandmothers would utilise products from the kitchen to ensure good health and well-being. Carrying forward the same practices, she started Maate. Priyanka explains,
Maate is inspired by Ayurveda, following a lot of traditional recipes. It’s not a brand that is just about looking good and smelling good. It is about actually working on your child’s skin, scalp and body, and it is something that is safe, natural, and at the same time, it really works. I know this is something which has been created by a mother for all the mothers out there.
Apart from developing quality products, Maate also focuses on sustainability, which is also the need of the hour. Explaining how Maate is leading sustainability, Priyanka says,
I think sustainability is a practice which every start-up worldwide and especially in India, has to kind of adopt now. While building wonderful brands, we have to keep in mind that the biggest gift we can give to our children is the planet, which is helping the kids to grow healthy and happy. As a responsible parent and brand owner, I wanted to take care of the sustainability factor in our brand.
Priyanka explains that in the skincare segment, it can be a little challenging to have glass bottles for all products. For example, products from the cleansing range are used in the bathroom and shower. The glass bottles can slip and break. One has to think of the safety of the baby as well. The entrepreneur adds,
As a brand, wherever possible, we use glass packaging and we try reducing the usage of plastic in terms of any fillers or shrink wrap or any plastic tapes. And whatever little plastic we use, we try using hundred percent recyclable plastic. We encourage reusing products. And, we are also working on refill packs so that the usage of plastic is minimised.
A Woman Empowering Women
Priyanka also runs the ‘Gracia Raina Foundation’ which aims at empowering women, in and on the cusp of their reproductive phase. Named after her daughter Gracia Raina, the foundation was launched right after Priyanka gave birth to her first child. Talking about how important it is to impart the right lessons on bodies, gender and sexuality, and reproductive health to young girls, Priyanka says,
After becoming a mother myself, I realised how difficult the whole journey of motherhood can be for a mother. She goes through so many changes mentally, physically, and emotionally. Through the foundation, I wanted to come up with programmes where I could really help these underprivileged women, who do not have access to the right healthcare or the right information and knowledge sources. We launched a program for maternal health called ‘Every Mother’. It is to educate expecting mothers and young mothers.
‘Every Mother’ focuses on the prenatal and postnatal phases and also on postpartum depression. Priyanka believes taboos and a lot of unknowns surround postpartum depression, as a result of which, it is not talked about much.
Even the young mothers sometimes do not really understand why they are feeling so overwhelmed and emotional. It is pivotal that they understand all the hormonal changes, and at the same time, their families are there to support them.
While working on the ground, the team realised that, in India, there were a lot of teenage pregnancies, young pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies. Hence, they thought it was crucial to start working on a life cycle approach where they educate women way before they become pregnant and initiated a programme called ‘Right Age’. Priyanka adds,
As soon as these young girls enter adolescence, that is when we want to tap into this whole area of making them understand how they can prepare their bodies. We added a program for adolescents and young girls to teach them about their bodies, what they can expect and why they are feeling a certain way. And if they are going through certain struggles, how they can reach out to the healthcare experts and even to their parents, how they can initiate the conversation.
Priyanka explains that during educational programmes, the team of Gracia Raina Foundation talks about bodily changes, emotional changes, and the menstrual cycle, and at the same time, educates them about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), infections and cervical cancer.
The young entrepreneur believes it is a collective responsibility of parents, teachers and organisations like hers to implement such programmes. She adds, “It’s also very important that our educational systems start including such programs where young children are being educated about their bodies, mental and physical well-being, or all the changes they are going through. And at the same time, it’s imperative that parents have an open conversation with children at home because a lot of unknowns and confusion among children leads to a lot of issues later on.”
Pulls And Pressures Of Motherhood
While looking after their business or work and family, women often tend to forget to take care of their own needs. How does Priyanka Raina strike a balance between self-care and family’s wellness? P.O.P. – Plan, Organise and Prioritise – the three words Priyanka swears by. She says,
I think all the mothers out there would resonate with me – balancing is not easy. Every day is a new day and every day is a new struggle. But, I feel, once you become a mom, you also get the special talent of being in multiple places at the same time and multitasking. What has really helped me is to stay organised. I start my day by making all my to-dos, prioritise what I can do and what I cannot do. At the same time, I really believe in planning things ahead, in advance. And I think I have also become very good at saying no to things I just cannot accommodate because my priority is my children, my family, my work, and my own well-being.
Priyanka believes that mothers are pushing their boundaries and coming forward, trying to achieve their dreams and at the same time, trying to balance things at home. However, she recommends looking after oneself and seeing what works best for you because,
If you are not happy yourself, if you’re not healthy yourself, you cannot raise a happy and healthy family.
You can listen to the full Banega Swasth India podcast discussion by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.