Photo Credit: Marc Washington, founder of wellness brand Muniq
This Princeton And Harvard Graduate Just Launched A Wellness Brand, Prioritizing Health In The Black Community
This year has been filled with a never-ending amount of ups and downs but one thing is certain, Black entrepreneurs are continuing to makes waves in their respective industries.
Marc Washington is a Princeton and Harvard business graduate and has recently launched his wellness brand Muniq with a focus on serving the multi-cultural diabetic community. Washington began working on Muniq after his sister Monica passed away and he desired to create a brand that would change the perception of living a healthy lifestyle in the African-American community.
Muniq offers nutritional shakes for diabetics but is inclusive to all, and Washington conducted extensive research to ensure each product would positively impact the African-American and ethnic communities.
Travel Noire had a chance to talk to Marc about his journey to launching Muniq, his experience as an entrepreneur, and how he’s navigating the wellness space during this time.
You started Muniq after the loss of your younger sister Monica, what steps did you take to begin developing and building Muniq as a brand?
Yes, my little sister, Monica, was my inspiration for launching Muniq. Monica was full of personality, incredibly colorful, and hilarious, and she truly lived life fully. Her story is similar to so many others when it came to her health, though, as she struggled over the years with her weight, diabetes, and blood pressure. Monica tragically passed away 5 years ago due to health complications during childbirth.
I was inspired by Monica to create a business that would empower others to regain control over chronic health issues like those that she dealt with. I know Monica is smiling down at the prospect of helping people as a way to continue building on her legacy, as she had a warm and giving spirit. At Muniq we are creating solutions to help people effectively address underlying health conditions with products that Monica would have loved.
My first step in creating our brand was to choose a name that really spoke to me…Monica + unique = Muniq. We engaged a purpose-driven creative agency to help us breathe life into our Muniq brand and solidify our overall purpose of increasing hope, health, and happiness through the science of the gut microbiome. We knew that our mission extended far beyond just creating healthy products, but was rather about inspiring hope and empowerment and creating a movement. We also aligned that our brand would be infused with personality and remain very relatable, even though we were addressing serious conditions and were steeped in science. We will always remain in service to our customers and serve a helpful ally in their health journey. It made sense to personify our brand voice as reflecting Monica and her vibrant and uplifting personality. Once these brand pillars were established, it was pretty straightforward to then build out all elements of Muniq as a brand including our overall look & feel, packaging, website, and content.
How do Muniq products differ from other wellness products developed for diabetics that are currently on the market?
Muniq is for ANYONE looking to regain lasting control over their health from conditions that have held too much control over their life. I created Muniq to help people effectively address these prevalent ‘underlying conditions’ and regain control of their health and lives.
Unlike most health & wellness nutrition products on the market, we take a science-based & research-driven approach to product development (more akin to the process typically followed by pharma or biotech companies). This is how we create products that are proven through scientific research to transform your health in a targeted way. Another central theme to our products is that they work through your gut microbiome, which has been proven to be the control center for your health affecting most aspects of your health.
Despite our strong scientific foundation, Muniq is an intensely consumer-driven brand. I know from experience that one of the most significant challenges for people to improve their health is when “healthy” solutions are difficult to sustain or not enjoyable. That’s a recipe for a solution to be a passing fad and not result in lasting benefits. We focus intensely on ensuring our products are not only highly effective, but are also convenient and delicious. Creating products that work through your gut to fundamentally transform your health, and doing so in a way that consumers can actually look forward to incorporating into their everyday lives is how we will have a lasting impact on public health.
Our first line of breakthrough products are balanced nutritional shakes powered by resistant starch, a unique class of prebiotic fiber, designed to promote gut health and significantly improve your body’s natural ability to control blood sugar levels. Very few products on the market include resistant scratch, which has the power to be a game-changer for many individuals looking to improve blood sugar control. For example, most shakes targeting glucose control only include a few grams of fiber while Muniq shakes contain 15 grams of next-generation prebiotic fibers to transform your blood sugar control.
What challenges have you faced so far as a Black man in the wellness space?
Most of the challenges I’ve faced as a Black man working in health and wellness are common challenges among Black professionals across industry sectors. Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with being “The Only One” in many professional environments. We all know that lack of representation and senior role models that look like us presents an additional barrier for career development and advancement. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great leaders during my career, but I definitely could have benefited from having more Black mentors and leaders to show me the ropes and provide additional personal guidance over the years.
The challenges of being Black in the nutrition and wellness space are somewhat exacerbated, though, as the industry is lacking diversity even relative to other industries. The lack of diversity in nutrition and wellness is especially ironic given the populations that need our health-promoting products the MOST are those dealing with the most significant health issues. And as we all know, Black and Brown communities are struggling with chronic diseases at significantly higher rates than the general population, leading to vast disparities in health outcomes.
Being a Black executive in the wellness space can at times feel like a lonely existence. It’s a rare occurrence to spot someone that looks like me while walking the halls of an industry conference or symposium, or while meeting with supply chain partners and vendors. There are times where I’ve felt like I was carrying the heavyweight of representing an entire culture, and pushing for more representation and inclusion practically single-handedly. All that said, I’d be remiss to not also mention that my experiences as a Black man in this industry have also afforded me a platform to speak openly about the importance of diversity and representation in our industry, and to help support positive change.
What steps do you think the Black community could take to lower the rate of diabetes among African-Americans?
That’s a billion-dollar question. Some would say it’s so simple…Just follow the basic guidelines of eating less, and moving more.
While that general advice is “factually accurate”, in practice it’s significantly more complex than that. This is evidenced by the staggering stats around the diabetes epidemic.
In total, 35 million US adults have diabetes and another 90+ million have prediabetes. As we’re all too aware, African Americans are 50% more likely to have diabetes than the general public. So we are disproportionately affected by ‘The Sugars’ and the serious health risks that come along with the condition. Behavioral factors including poor diet and lack of exercise are definitely factors that contribute to the prevalence of diabetes. However, there are so many other deep-rooted structural factors also contributing to the high rate of diabetes within the Black community, including lesser access to healthcare, poorer quality of care, and socioeconomic disadvantages. Our healthcare and food systems aren’t helping our community in this regard either, given the escalating costs of drugs and lack of effective and sustainable nutritional solutions to effectively address the diagnosis over the long term.
Fortunately, all is not lost in this fight for the Black community to regain better control over diabetes. Here are a few of my recommended, practical steps to address the diabetes epidemic within the Black community: