Sowing the seed: Start-up offers nutrition support for marginalized communities

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© SOW Minerals
© SOW Minerals

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Sow, a start-up that caters to the nutrition needs of Black, Asian and Arab women, launched last year in response to data revealing that certain demographics were affected by COVID-19 more harshly than others.

For founder Simi Launay, the mission to provide supplements and nutrition education for women of color after COVID-19 was born out of the concern for some of the people closest to her.

Simi Launay

“I was so worried about my friends and family who were frontline workers in the UK, or were living in compromising living situations, or had comorbidities,” the entrepreneur told NutraIngredients.

“I was also looking at the COVID-19 statistics, and what was coming out was that it was disproportionately affecting people of Black, Asian and Arab origins​—it was alarming to see these demographics so heavily impacted​.”

She and co-founder Mitesh Desai, who has a background in marketing and e-commerce, worked for three years to develop a wellness brand and introduced their first four products in April 2023. 

The range, now marketed globally, consists of an immune support product, a women's multivitamin, a beauty-from-within supplement and a gut health prebiotic blend. All products come in a once-daily, month-long supply in hard gel capsule format.

A need for supplements

Launay believes supplements are a vital part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

“I know this is controversial, but diet alone cannot provide all necessary nutrients due to the declining nutritional value of food caused by soil erosion,” she said.

On top of that, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are more likely to have an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies​. 

This was her inspiration for the flagship product Women's Immune & Serene, which is designed to support immunity and calmness. It contains vitamin C, zinc, copper and selenium for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; L-tryptophan for improved sleep​; and vitamin D3, which as Launay explained, is imperative for people of African-Caribbean, Asian and Arab heritage, as people of color have a higher Vitamin D deficiency risk​.

The Women's Daily Multi Complex, which is the most popular product in the range, contains B vitamins, iron and CoQ10 to aid fatigue​ and support metabolism​, and chronium to stabilize blood glucose levels​. It also contains vitamin D, vitamin A and selenium, which are useful for the prevention and treatment fibroids​, as research has shown that African American women suffer from earlier onset uterine fibroids​ at higher rates than Caucasian women.

The Women’s Hair, Skin & Nails supplement is designed to support overall beauty from within by increasing collagen levels for skin strength and elasticity with the inclusion of amino acids, vitamin C and biotin. The formula also includes hyaluronic acid for moisture-retention as darker skin has been found to lose more water.

The final product in the range, Live Bacteria & Digestive Complex, contains containing six different probiotic strains to promote gut health by restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. 

“It has surprisingly become the other most popular product, something we didn’t think would happen as there are plenty of gut health products on the market,” Launay said. “But we see it resonating with customers who are aware of the link between gut health and overall wellness, and how that in turn, informs quality of life.” 

Holistic health support

Promoting a holistic wellness approach is key for the brand, Launay explained: “We now hold wellness events that include talks, yoga and socializing, highlighting the importance of connection and community in wellness... It’s all part of our mission to encourage discussion and build knowledge.”

The supplements, while marketed towards African-Caribbean, Asian and Arab women, can be used by anyone, she said, noting that while they have been formulated to address some key deficiencies in BAME women, they contain ingredients that could benefit many demographics. 

The aim however, she added, is to create a knowledge source and community that feels like it makes space for those whose needs are often addressed by supplements on the market.

The message appears to be landing as the brand has seen a steep increase in sales in the last four months, which Launay credits to customers seeing real results with the products. 

Her hope is that the brand's range will eventually expand with supplements for the whole family.

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