Health 31 August 2018
Motherhood is as beautiful and precious as the earth itself, but it is also incredibly taxing. New moms lose countless hours of sleep caring for their babies; they put themselves last. Majka is a nutrition brand that recognizes that the selflessness of many mothers can be detrimental to their overall well-being. With all-natural, vegan bites and protein powders that aid optimal lactation and proper nutrition for both a mother and their child, Majka promotes a wholesome motherhood—and does it deliciously.
“Our society needs to understand and get behind the fact that the better the mom feels, the better care she will be able to provide for her child."
Founders, Majo Mansour and Lorena Garcia, started Majka to combat what they found to be an unfortunate paucity of postnatal resources, much of the market hyper-focused on stocking their shelves with products to support the pregnancy stage, rather than the journey that follows. Mansour and Garcia can attest to the difficulties of that journey, both new moms themselves. “After becoming moms, we quickly realized that motherhood was much more challenging than expected," they admit. “We went back to work shortly after having our children, and with work and the pressures of new motherhood, we quickly saw our health and energy decline. It's really hard to make the right food choices when you are focused on learning how to be a mom."
Founders Majo Mansour and Lorena Garcia. "The better the mom feels, the better care she will be able to provide for her child"
As pioneers of the #fuelingmotherhood movement, Mansour and Garcia believe that how you feel is a reflection of what you put into your body. Thus it is crucial that mothers eat well in order to feel healthy and strong enough to care for their babies. Not finding the right fuel in grocery stores and sick of scrutinizing every product label for clean ingredients, Mansour and Garcia took matters into their own capable hands. This past April, just two years after deciding to fill the gap in the motherhood market, they launched their products, bites and protein powder just the beginning of their mission: “love yourself, love motherhood."
Majka is self-funded by Mansour and Garcia, who teamed up with a group of professional nutritionists to ensure their products would truly benefit mothers and their babies. “We understand nutritional challenges we all face as new moms and we help address them with our products," Mansour and Garcia explain. “Our Nourishing Lactation Protein Powder is not just an amazing source of nourishment, but it's also anti-inflammatory, energizing, alkalizing, and hormone balancing. It is perfect to help new moms restore and replenish their bodies." Their protein powder can simply be blended with milk (coconut, oat, almond, etc.) or another liquid, and can also be added as a bonus to baked goods or smoothies. Healthy can be tasty, even though some are reluctant to stand by such a claim.
Moms get hungry too, craving more than a protein drink, especially when they're expending a gargantuan amount of energy doting on their little one(s). With four per pack, Majka's Lactation Bites are a healthy on-the-go snack—and when are moms ever not on the go? The key ingredients in each bite that you've probably heard of are turmeric, coconut, chia seeds, oats, flaxseed, and black sesame seeds. The key ingredients that might not ring any bells are fenugreek and glossostemon bruguieri, both specialized in lactation aid. Even moms who are not currently breastfeeding can incorporate their products into their everyday lives to reap the health benefits. The bites look like little, golden nuggets crafted by health food fairies. Who knows? Maybe Mansour and Garcia do have some motherly magic up their sleeves, their products able to work wonders for the mothers their brand is named for; yes, majka does indeed mean “mother."
“We really wanted our name to be a word that had a meaning related to motherhood and after a lot of research we discovered the word Majka. We both loved it! It means mother in Serbian."
Champions of bolstering support for new mothers and lending a voice to the various challenges they face, Mansour and Garcia say that they “want to help change how our society sees motherhood and make sure that it recognizes the 4th trimester as a critical stage that will profoundly impact the mom and baby for years to come."
Mansour and Garcia have had to learn to balance their own babies with their business baby, and that's not an easy feat. “It is a huge challenge to be able to accomplish both your role as a new mother and your role as a leader and entrepreneur," they say. “Normal day to day responsibilities do not stop when you become a mom. Some people sacrifice their career for motherhood, and we wanted to make sure we did not have to choose one or the other."
Lorena Garcia with Majka's Lactation Protein Powder
What's next for these supermoms? Exciting expansion. Mansour and Garcia revealed, with much zeal, that Majka has a few new products coming out later this year, so moms-to-be or those who've just joining the motherhood scene should all be on the lookout.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."
women in business women empowerment women entrepreneurs women supporting women female entrepreneurs female leaders makeup lookism gender bias attractiveness attractiveness bias makeupless working women corporate women beauty standards beauty culture success in the workplace femme fatale business woman