WAM founder Maria Shriver and her son Patrick Schwarzenegger have launched MOSH, a mission-driven brain health and wellness brand, that will be donating a portion of the proceeds to help WAM fund women-based Alzheimer’s research. Together, they aspire to elevate the importance of a brain-healthy lifestyle and change the way we prioritize and discuss cognitive health. Through MOSH, Maria and Patrick will encourage people to exercise their minds the same way they do their muscles, inviting brain health warriors to eat to feel good and buy to do good.
Read the Q&A with Maria Shriver below.
WAM: What made you decide to start your new mission-driven brain health and wellness company, MOSH, and why did you come out of the gate with a brain bar?
Maria Shriver: Believe me, becoming an entrepreneur at 65 was not on my vision board. But I got motivated to do so when I couldn’t find the health bar that I wanted or a health bar company that was catering to my age group. And I came out of the gate with a health bar because I eat food bars non stop. I’m on the road, I’m in my car, on an airplane, and I need a source of protein and a source of energy. Also for years, everywhere I traveled speaking on behalf of women and Alzheimer’s, people asked me for ideas about healthy bars. What was out there that they could eat that was good for their brain health? What were the supplements out there with a proven track record? I didn’t have an answer for them because there really wasn’t a bar designed around brain health. I was taking a lot of supplements to help support my brain health so I thought, why not use what I larned to develop a bar that I would want to eat. So that’s what I did.
My larger goal for MOSH is to build a company that overtime will be make products that are good for your brain and that will also fund brain health research and help find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
WAM: What sets the MOSH bar apart from other food bars on the market?
Maria Shriver: I think what sets the MOSH bar apart is that it’s delicious, it’s nutritious. It’s good for your brain, good for your body, it’s not high in calories and it does what no other bar does, it funds women-based brain Alzheimer’s research. There is no other bar or company I know of that funds women-based research into women’s brains. Understanding and protecting women’s brains is a priority to me–trying to get at the heart of why women are so vulnerable to Alzheimer’s. What I’ve learned along the way to funding brain health research is that there is not enough funding for almost all kinds of women’s health issues. That is critical because we are learning more every day that the health of a woman throughout her lifespan will affect her risk for Alzheimer’s, and nutrition is a big part of health.
WAM: You call MOSH a “for benefit company,” and I know the concept of a corporation giving back is important to you. Why did you decide to focus on WAM as the beneficiary of some of the proceeds from MOSH?
Maria Shriver: WAM has been my passion for over 10 years and is the first nonprofit of its kind exclusively devoted to women and Alzheimer’s. WAM has funded $3.5 million dollars in seed grants of $50,000 to $100,000 each and put those grants into the hands of innovative scientists who often want to pursue out-of-the-box ideas about why women’s brains might be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s than men’s. As a result, we are learning a lot about the brains of both sexes. It’s exciting that the WAM funding has already made a difference in our understanding of what makes women unique when it comes to Alzheimer’s—and even more exciting and gratifying, that the seed grants have led to over $80 million in additional grants into brain research from the NIH, other institutions and foundations. Research takes money, and so I’m hoping MOSH will help support that, while also furthering my other passion, which is to educate and empower people of all ages to start caring for their brain health.
WAM: You created this new health company with your son Patrick. How was it working side by side with him in a totally new and different capacity?
Maria Shriver: It’s been an incredible partnership. I could never have done this without Patrick. I pitched this idea to bigger companies for several years and they passed, partially I believe due to my age. I think that companies weren’t convinced an idea brought to them by a woman in her 60’s would be viable in today’s market. So when Patrick said to me, “well, if you keep getting no for an answer and people keep turning you down, make it yourself. Step into your own power and follow your own advice,” soI decided to go for it. And then Patrick came in with his track record in the wellness and the CPG space (consumer packaged goods.) He knew the players, the issues, and how to get things done.
He brings in a whole level and area of expertise that I know nothing about. And he’s been able to engage people his own age who are interested in this space. Ironically a lot of the young people in this space got into it because they have a loved one—a parent, grandparent– with the disease, and they want to get involved. Patrick has put together an amazing team, and I love that it’s a melding of generations.
WAM: Was it fun working with him?
Maria Shriver: It was fun. But it’s also taken much more time than I anticipated. Some of that is due to COVID. Some of it due to learning on the job. It’s been a long year and a half developing and testing different products. Some were too high in sugar, some had ingredients that weren’t shelf stable. There we ran into a lot of hiccups that were associated with COVID, many of them associated with not being able to get the right form of vitamin B-12, Ashwagandha or vitamin D during the pandemic when there were all sorts of transportation and inventory issues.
WAM: We all know you as the founder of WAM and as an enormous advocate for nonprofit work. What did you learn about yourself, something you didn’t know, by starting up a for profit business?
Maria Shriver: I learned that you can combine them. People want companies to have a social mission. I’ve always had a social mission. I’ve spent most of my life working on social issues or working as a volunteer—and for quite a variety of causes. I thought building MOSH would be a good way to build something that I could eventually leave to my children, leave them a legacy, while also educating people about their health and the importance of nutrition. Creating MOSH brings all parts of my life together from my interest in social issues, my journalism and desire to educate, my focus on women and women’s health, and my keen desire to beat Alzheimer’s by helping to find a cure or treatment.
WAM: Ultimately, you have to have learned a lot about business through this process.
Maria Shriver: I’m learning every day about the business, how expensive it is. That you have to keep raising money, and just when you think you have one thing accomplished, something else falls through. Honestly, it’s been a wild ride and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned along the way.
WAM: You must be proud that you’ve learned so much.
Maria Shriver: Well I’m learning and learning. I haven’t learned it, I’m learning it. I’m proud that I’m willing to try. I’m proud that I’m not afraid of failing. And I’m proud that I’m not afraid of succeeding.
You can purchase MOSH bars here.