Musings Q&A series interviews people who lead by example, waking us up to our own potential to make the world a more balanced place.

Cats do it. Dogs do it. Now, Jasmina Aganovic, president of Mother Dirt, is advocating for humans to do it. Lucky for us, we don’t need to go outside and roll in the dirt to actively restore our bacterial balance. Instead, the team at Mother Dirt has created meticulously researched probiotic sprays that nurture the good bacteria of our skin. Aganovic believes that our current notion that sterile equals clean is backfiring on us, upsetting the balance of our skin’s microbiome, which can result in inflammation, eczema, and other issues.  AO+Mist is packed with ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOBs) which feeds on the ammonia and urea in our sweat and keeps our skin healthy and protected.  Who knew how healing a little dirt could be?

Can you describe the moment when you first realized that a little bit of dirt (and bacteria!) was necessary for a healthy life?

As a consumer in the skincare industry and a scientist, I couldn’t ignore the tremendous irony of being “cleaner” than ever, having more products than ever, and yet living in a time where we have more skin issues, allergies, and sensitivities than ever before. Sensitive skin is the fastest growing category, 90% of the world’s acne medication is consumed in the United States, and 1 in 6 children struggle with eczema. Not only is perfect skin elusive, but the mantra of “more products, more chemistry” has created an industry that ranks among the top ten most polluting on the planet. I believe changing our relationship with the microbial world will be one of the biggest innovations in public health.

You’re encouraging people to clean their bodies with bacteria.  Did you have trouble finding initial support for this?  If so, how did you go about getting your company off the ground?

We owe a lot to the awareness that people have around good bacteria for the gut to help alleviate the “ick” factor. Had this not already happened in the market, it would be tough to say that we would even have a chance. We are also fortunate to have gotten really strong interest from the press and public from the beginning—perhaps precisely because of the odd nature of the idea.

 You’re encouraging people to clean their bodies with bacteria.  Did you have trouble finding initial support for this?  If so, how did you go about getting your company off the ground?

We owe a lot to the awareness that people have around good bacteria for the gut to help alleviate the “ick” factor. Had this not already happened in the market, it would be tough to say that we would even have a chance. We are also fortunate to have gotten really strong interest from the press and public from the beginning—perhaps precisely because of the odd nature of the idea.

Any advice for someone struggling to get their own unusual idea for a business started?

Have a solid connection with your target user, and make sure you have a good understanding of their problems and needs so that your product can speak directly to that. Also, don’t forget the emotional aspect of building a brand: function is important, but long-lasting relationships with products can’t be made without tapping into people’s emotions.

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