Indian American Miki Agrawal has finally brought an 18th century invention, which is used in most parts of the world, to America: the bidet.
Often used in countries like India, Italy, Japan and other parts of Asia, the bidet, invented by a Frenchman, is a common fixture in toilets used to clean yourself after you go to the bathroom.
According to The New Yorker, traditional bidets look like second toilets with a faucet for washing and Agrawal’s new invention The Tushy “is an attachable appliance that sprays water from inside a regular toilet. The user removes her toilet seat, connects the device to the toilet’s existing water supply, and reattaches the seat for ‘an instant life upgrade.’”
Advocates of bidets say that they reduce bathroom time; mess and waste as they cut down on toilet-paper use and if America starts using the bidet, they could save some fifteen million trees a year since the average American uses fifty-seven sheets a day, according to The New Yorker.
According to The New York Times, advocates also say that using a bidet reduces urinary-tract infections as they remove bacteria that can travel up to the bladder, though the evidence is inconclusive, in fact a 2010 study conducted with 268 women in Japan, revealed that habitual bidet users actually presented aggravated vaginal microflora and that bidet users were far more likely to show fecal bacteria as well as contamination by other pathogens than nonusers were.
Even Philip Tierno, a professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University School of Medicine, told The New York Times that no method is enough to completely eliminate bacteria.
“If you compare the bidet experience with wet wipes, there’s no contest. The wipes work better,” Tierno told The New York Times, but this did not stop Agrawal and she went onto pursuing her bidet business.
However, The Tushy is not the only thing Agrawal has invented.
In 2011, Agrawal “sold millions and millions of units” of Thinx, a menstrual underwear that is designed to replace pads and liners while breaking taboos, however she was accused of sexual harassment as several employees claimed that she allegedly touched their breasts and pierced their nipples, even FaceTimed them from the toilet itself.
So she had to leave the company and that’s when she thought about creating a bidet business after her partner bought her one for Valentine’s Day in 2012, and four years later The Tushy was born.
According to The New York Times, Agrawal raised $1.4 million for Tushy which employs 11 people, “I am being a lot more careful about hiring, and I have an H.R. manual in place now,” she told The New Yorker.
Although her bidet sales were three times greater than the year before over Christmas and sold 532 of them in under 10 minutes on the Home Shopping Network in early January, Agrawal told The New York Times that there is still more work to be done.
“We have indoctrinated Americans into thinking that dry paper is going to clean you, and it’s not,” she told The New York Times.
According to The New York Times, the clip-on bidet attachment, whose designed is inspired by the sleek iPhone, is worth $69.
According to The New Yorker, Agrawal and her twin sister, Radha, who is also her business partner, grew up in Canada where bidets “are only slightly more common than in the U.S.,” however, since their father is Indian and their mother is Japanese, they had been exposed to bidets long before.
Agrawal told The New York Times that she is very passionate about The Tushy and plans to introduce travel and baby bidets later this year.
She is also looking forward to publishing her book this fall, “Disrupt-Her,” which is about female leadership and uses Shakti, the shape-shifting Hindu goddess, as writing inspiration.
“She gets to embody so many sides of herself — there’s Kali, the fighter; Durga, the warrior; Parvati, the goddess of wisdom; Lalita, the sensual goddess. As women, we have so many sides to ourselves, yet in business only the fighter or warrior gets to come out. What I realized is I don’t have to lead with a sword in my hand. I can lead sitting down,” Agrawal told The New York Times.