Alpana Tiwari

Alpani Tiwari comes from a long line of Ayurvedic practitioners. Ayurveda is a three thousand year old alternative medicine system that finds its roots in the Indian subcontinent. Having always loved Ayurvedic cooking and its health benefits, creating healthy Ayurvedic supplements for women seemed like a no-brainer. Today her company Nushka Kitchen is providing pregnant women and women in their postnatal period with authentic Ayurveda-based supplements. Nushka Kitchen products have also been thoroughly researched and utilize innovative cooking techniques, bringing together the latest in science with the oldest cooking traditions in India.

Tiwari’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

I come from a long lineage of Ayurveda, my grandfather, father, brother, maternal uncles all have been/are vaids and Ayurved Acharyas. The fondest memories of my childhood are the cosy afternoons after school when I used to assist my father in preparing the herbs for his patients. He always dreamt of me and my brothers following the family’s tradition and pursuing this noble career academically. Fate had different plans for me I guess; I was married when I was 23 and have been settled in Jaipur ever since. I have two children now and my eldest happens to also be my co-founder. So here I am, at the age of 49, amalgamating the two things I love most, herbs and cooking! I firmly believe that the secret to good health lies in the science of traditional home remedies!

I think, life gives you at least three opportunities to change your fate. Now, while you can always find multiple reasons to say no to these opportunities, there’s always just one reason for doing it. I think I have seen the first two of the chances pass by, so when the third one came – I had to grab it. My son quit his job in 2019 and was not certain about what he wanted to do with his life. I decided to lead by example: rather than preaching about what I had seen from a distance I was going to show him that it is okay to be uncertain sometimes and to go after what you really want. That it is okay to not have clear set goals, as long as you have a vision.

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Considering my background, and my love for Ayurveda it was an absolute no brainer that I wanted to follow this path. India is a very diverse country but one thing that binds us together is tradition. The Indian maternity nutrition market is a multi-billion dollar industry. The market is filled with allopathic supplements, even though our entire nation prefers a more traditional diet. I thought, why not give people the traditional diet they want with a super authentic and well-researched preparation. We face a very big problem with infant mortality. Most of it is because of a lack of nutrition during postnatal care.  

We have entirely bootstrapped since the very beginning, I still remember the days when we used to get raw materials individually for the orders we booked. I think success is a very weird concept. When we stared, serving our first 100 customers was the biggest success. Now when we are at 500 plus customers. Moving forward, 10,000 seems like a very successful number. 

To me, I feel successful and happy when I receive the reviews for what we have provided. Seeing the mother well nurtured and then the nourishment flowing through to her baby – that’s what makes me feel relevant about what we are doing

We started with Nuskha in July 2019. In the limited time of operations (considering the pandemic and the lockdown that followed) I believe we are on the right track so far. Up until today we have served 519 new mothers with the best of post-partum nutrition. We have also served more than 3,000 customers with daily-use health remedies. To date, Nuskha is yet to receive any negative reviews from its customers. To me, that is my biggest success so far.

[Related: She’s Making Seasonal Farm-to-Table Sauces, One Bottle At a Time]

The biggest hurdle that we have faced in our business is the lack of recognition. And not in terms of the brand but the entire sector. Our audience is not really aware that the product that they have been struggling to make in their homes is now available on the market. Another challenge is making people realize that this isn’t just traditional food for rituals – this is a potent solution for the biggest problem this country is facing, malnutrition.

And we did our research. We researched what exactly is served in different cultures and regions across India. What we learned was astounding. The basic ingredients were all the same, it was just the method of preparation that varied based on the local culture. We followed this with extensive research on why a particular ingredient is being used and what purpose it is serving exactly.

With all of this knowledge, we were able to design the perfect nutritional delivery solution. We looked for help from the existing experts in the field; Gynecologists, ante-natal yoga experts, nutritionists etc. They are our source of knowledge transfer. Currently, Nuskha is affiliated with more than 60 gynecologists, 10+ antenatal yoga/Lamaze experts and radiologists among others. All of these experts are actively recommending our products to their patients and clients.

In terms of my most important role model, I would have to say that is my mother.

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Editor’s Note: The Story Exchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching the annual Women In Science Incentive Prize. Apply now for a chance to receive $5,000 in funding for your climate-related research or startup. Deadline: July 31. 

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