Leaving everything behind in India and landing in the United States with only two suitcases and $20 to your name, isn't a story that many people are able to tell. After speaking with Urvashi Pitre who lived that experience and has risen to create so many positive things in her life and a thriving cookbook empire, I can honestly say that it's a story filled with compassion, bravery and fueled by the want to help others.
At 20-year-old, Pitre arrived in the United States to fulfill a scholarship and even became CMIO of the largest ad agency in the country, but that is only where her story begins. To me, this remarkable feat sounds overwhelming, but she assured me that it wasn't. “You would think it would have been—but at 20 years old, you think you're invincible, “ she said. "I did have the promise of a scholarship, but I really had no idea if it would be enough to live on, when it would kick in, and more importantly—what I would do until it came through!"
Instead, she focused on the positive. “But I will say, then and now, I focused on what I did have," she remarks. "I had a great new opportunity ahead of me. I had the chance to start from scratch, to do what I wanted to do, to live on my own terms."
To know I could make it on my own, with no help from my family. Looking back, I seem to remember moments of great excitement and a sense of adventure—sparkled with occasional moments of sheer terror—but isn't that the hallmark of every great adventure?
"Influenced by spices from her world travels, she created extremely unique keto recipes that helped her lose 80 pounds." Photo Courtesy of Norwalk Reflector
Her biggest struggle? Navigating the everyday things that she wasn't accustomed to where she grew up. “It was less about steps toward a better life at first as it was just being able to negotiate simple things. I had never seen a can of Coke®. When I was handed one on a hot day, I had no idea how to open it! I hadn't seen a seatbelt in a car. I had no idea what a garbage disposal was or how to work a dishwasher, a washing machine, or a vacuum cleaner. All of this was 30 years ago when not only were these things not common in India, but we also didn't have the easy access information about life in the US that we do today."
“People think that most of us come here for a better life—and we do, or at least for a different life. But we also must learn to do things for ourselves we've never done before, things that were done for us in countries where labor is a lot cheaper than it is here. I had not washed dishes, done the laundry, cleaned the house or even picked up after myself until I came to live here. I was in for quite a rude awakening in that regard!"
Struggling for years with her weight, she eventually started the ketogenic diet (a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate lifestyle) and started documenting her journey through her blog, Two Sleevers. Like any smart woman, she took the skills that she learned from her advertising agency experience an applied them to her business. “I learned a lot about how to deal with the C-suite, how to present your company well, how to go out and find new business, how to partner with different agencies, each with their own specialties. But it's sort of like watching your parents—you also learn what you don't want to do when you're all grown up. I used that experience to help me decide what I would and would not do in my own company. For example, I decided I would not work with clients who were disrespectful, or who treated my staff badly. I would be selective about who I chose to partner with. I would stay involved in the day to day of the client work in a way that I could not be, as part of a larger company. Tasseologic has allowed me to create the type of company that I would have wanted to work at—and I'm so grateful to have had that opportunity."
Influenced by spices from her world travels, she created extremely unique keto recipes that helped her lose 80 pounds. Gaining the nickname, “The Butter Chicken Lady," she has created an online voice that has appealed to many (including her 25,000 Facebook group members) and is on her way to publish her second cookbook called The Keto Instant Pot Cookbook. Following a ketogenic diet myself, I'm in awe of the community she's built and love how her and her family has made her journey a group effort. The keto diet and instant pot have become two major things her life, which she was first introduced to after her husband had gastric sleeve surgery, as a way to change both of their lives and the way they were eating, forever.
"At 20-year-old, Pitre arrived in the United States to fulfill a scholarship and even became CMIO of the largest ad agency in the country, but that is only where her story begins." Photo Courtesy of Urvashi Pitre
“You can cut out most of your stomach and reboot your body chemistry—but if you're carb-sensitive like we were, and you don't cut out the carbs? Well, you'll gain all the weight back over time. So keto/low carb is not optional for me. It's what I have to do to keep off the weight I worked so hard to lose."
And the ease of the instant post made things so much better, too. “I bought an Instant Pot over 4 years ago, and the ease of electric pressure cookers over stovetop ones just appeal to someone like me, who loves hands off, stupid simple cooking that still manages to taste great," she shared.
Pitre has two crucial pieces of advice for anyone trying to lose weight, and keep it off, “first, with weight loss as with other things in life, you control your actions, not the outcome. Accept that you do not control what the scale tells you from day to day. You can only control what you put into your mouth. You can't control the rate of weight loss. Secondly, you will be “stalled" more days than you will show weight loss. In other words, you will lose weight here and here—but for most days, your scale will not budge. You cannot expect to see daily change. Focus on the trend and the trajectory—not on any given day or week or even two weeks. If you see an overall loss, you're doing fine." And my personal favorite bit of wisdom is that she always says to, “focus on what you can have. Don't fixate on the things you're giving up or can't eat. There's no can't, it's a choice you're making. You choose not to have things that will make you fat and uncomfortable. Speaking of choice, rejoice in the fact that you choose to eat so many delicious things, and yet lose weight. Focus on what you can have. It's a lot more fun."
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.