An Exclusive Interview With Model & Little Bean Founder Mirte Maas
I recently chatted with Mirte Maas, an international fashion model who founded the Little Bean app in 2021, while she was pregnant with her first child.
With countless beauty products at home and a ton of ambiguous information online, she was struggling to determine which products to include or exclude from her regimen. So, having recently graduated from Columbia University, she scoured the university’s online library and created a personal list of all of the potentially harmful ingredients that she would rather avoid. But even with the list in hand, it felt like an impossible task to identify all of the questionable ingredients listed on product labels - and thus Little Bean was born.
Read on for our conversation on the impetus behind the app, Mirte’s favorite MŪN product, and more!
Munemi: I was happy that you chose a healthy vegetarian place for our initial meeting. As a healthy conscious eater, can you share what your diet is like for yourself and your family? Also, has your diet always been healthy or was there a shift at some point?
Mirte: Modeling definitely gave me a jump start to eating consciously. From the moment I got scouted as a model around age 14, I knew I had to watch my diet in order to fit a sample size. Back then it wasn’t as easy to find healthy yet filling options. I still remember the days during fashion week in Milan (around ‘09) where all they served was prosciutto sandwiches backstage, and lots of models would pick out the meat from the sandwiches to avoid carbs. Times have definitely changed (hello Ozempic), especially in a place like NY where you can easily get a healthy and tasty meal on the go. When I eat alone, I try not to eat a ton of carbs, but in company I happily enjoy a large Omakase dinner. I probably eat out 4+ times a week with bigger meals as my husband likes to sample everything on the menu. I try to put a focus on balance in my life - I don’t want to impose strict limitations on my eating and diet, but also practice intermittent fasting followed by a healthy lunch or work out.
Munemi: Congratulations on launching your app! Can you tell us what inspired you to start it?
Mirte: A few months before getting pregnant I read a book by therapist Lori Gottlieb, where she wrote about one of her patients beating herself up for using certain skincare products during pregnancy, as she believed her son developed autism as a result of ingredients in these products. It stuck in my mind and when I got pregnant I dug through my extensive skincare collection and tried to figure out which products I should steer away from for the time being. As I started googling, I found dozens of ingredients that are questionable and trying to match these to every ingredient list of my products seemed like an impossible task. I thought to myself there must be an app that can do a quick word recognition on these lists and tell me if it's a No, Yes, or Maybe? Turns out there wasn’t. As I had previous product management experience from an internship I did during my time at Columbia, I decided to develop my own app that can perform this task!
Munemi: What can we expect from this app as well as from your newly launched blog?
Mirte: Our goal is for the app to serve as a trust-worthy, go-to, and easy-to-use source of information for any expectant momma when it comes to using beauty products during pregnancy. We also plan on building out our blog further to provide more educational material based on peer-reviewed research studies and interviews with skincare and beauty founders and pregnancy experts.
Munemi: How do you choose your own skincare products?
Mirte: Mostly through personal recommendations. I trust my friends, but not always Amazon reviews. ;) Products that have been clinically tested to show results are also always appealing.
Munemi: Can you share with us what your current skincare favorites are?
Mirte: I struggle with under eye darkness. Anyone who struggles with this knows how much of a challenge it is to find products or methods that actually help safely brighten the eye area. The MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum has become a staple in my daily skincare regimen.
Munemi: Now that you are a mother, how do you choose topical products for your son? Any favorites you can share with us?
Mirte: I actually still use the app for that! It is definitely geared towards pregnant women, and includes more ingredients that are specifically risky for pregnant women, but a product that is pregnancy safe also means it doesn’t contain potentially toxic or hormone disrupting ingredients that you wouldn’t want to put on your toddler either. The app can also be used on your products if you are trying to conceive or even if you are postpartum and breastfeeding.
Munemi: Are there any updates in the works for Little Bean?
Mirte: Yes! We are actually 1-2 months away from releasing an improved version on both IOS and Android. We are adding some additional features that our users have been requesting, such as being able to upload a screenshot of ingredient labels for when they are shopping online.
We’re proud to meet Little Bean’s pregnancy safe standards and that expecting mamas trust us with their skin through pregnancy and beyond.