An entrepreneur with Down syndrome started a health drink company

SMumbai resident wasti Mehta took the proverb “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” too seriously and decided to make Pudina Punch with the lemons life threw at her.

A bonafide entrepreneur, Swasti is a 27-year-old man born with Down syndrome. A very busy Swasti, talking to The best India, says, “I get up at 10 a.m. and almost immediately start working on making the punch. I do this until 2 p.m. when I break for lunch.

She adds: “When I finish my work for the day, I relax watching Taarak Mehta ka Oolta Chashma. I enjoy this show.

Swasti Mehta

Swasti, who found her calling during the first lockdown in March 2020, says she has never been busier. After having started by selling one or two bottles a day, Swasti now receives more than 20 orders a day.

Swasti is thrilled with the work she does and her mother, Darshana Mehta, couldn’t be prouder. “After worrying about how Swasti would do in the real world, seeing her do this completely on her own put me at ease. I can’t begin to describe the emotions running through me.

A mother’s perseverance to see her daughter succeed

Down syndrome
Swasti with his family.

“The early intervention that we started when Swasti was only a few months old helped her a lot. Swasti has always been a very active baby and apart from Down Syndrome, she had no other ailments. It was a huge plus for Swasti,” says Darshana.

Swasti started occupational therapy and speech therapy at an early age and Darshana thinks it has helped her immensely.

She continues: “There are parents who say that having a child with Down syndrome means it’s the ‘end of the world’. There is so much potential in these children. As parents, we just have to be patient to find and nurture their interests.

In an effort to help her develop her social skills and interact with other people her age, Swasti was enrolled in Dilkhush Special School when she was five years old. “Being in school did wonders for Swasti. She learned four languages ​​– English, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati and found ways to interact with people and her peers. Swasti spent six years at the Dilkush School, after which she was homeschooled. “I was told that academics would not be easy for Swasti and that the only way to advance was to work on her professional skills”, explains Darshana.

It was disappointing for Darshana to learn this, but she did not give up on Swasti.

“I kept finding ways to help her academically as well. I’m happy with the progress she’s made,” she adds.

The different stages of making Pudina Punch.

Darshana relied on the Glenn Doman method, which believes that children with Down syndrome can thrive cognitively, physically and socially. The program is based on the recognition of the absurdity of the idea that children with trisomy 21 (the most common chromosomal abnormality) are hopeless due to their genetic disease.

However, when Swasti was 20, she was sadly diagnosed with psychosis and all the work the duo had done up to that point came crashing down. “It was a major setback. All the major development that had happened in the last five years was fading away. Swasti was getting stubborn and aggressive,” says Darshana.

From an active, bright and understanding young girl, Swasti transformed into something even Darshana struggled to deal with. “But with the right psychiatric intervention and medication, Swasti was able to feel better quickly,” she adds. It lasted for a while and things got back on track when she relapsed.

“That period was the most difficult for me,” says Darshana. She speaks of exhaustion and frustration, both at the same time. “Having come all this way, I felt she was stepping back in time and that was the stress point.”

With the help of medicine, Swasti is better now and Darshana says it won’t even be noticed that she was once diagnosed with psychosis. As advice to parents in similar situations, Darshana says, “Please do not outright reject psychiatric intervention or help. The benefits are enormous. »

2020 – A turning point

Down syndrome
Aarsh and Swasti.

In March 2020, when everything was blocked, Swasti’s physical classes were also suspended. It was around this time that Swasti began experimenting with food. With the good encouragement of her parents and her brother, Aarsh Mehta, Swasti embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by launching her brand Pudina Punch.

“Pudina Punch gave us a common goal and brought us together,” says Aarsh.

Adding to this, Swasti says, “I go to the market and buy the pudina (mint) leaves. Wash them well and sort them all. Then I dry them, make a paste and add lemon juice to it. Then comes the sugar, which comes in according to taste. Once I’m done with this whole process, I also fill the bottles and prepare them for shipping.

Each bottle is priced at Rs 200 and shipped across India at an additional cost. The 1 liter bottles make it possible to prepare up to 30 glasses of drink.

So far, all sales have been through word of mouth and social media reach. Aarsh actively helps create fun Instagram reels for Swasti and says he loves being a part of it.

He adds: “In running a business, something or the other goes wrong every day and you are constantly fighting fires. [mode] to make things go well. Doing this together every day has made us understand each other better, which I think is priceless.

To place an order for the Pudina Punch, click here.

(Editing by Yoshita Rao)

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