It started when I shared my hair pulling secret.
Hi! I'm Aneela & I have trichotillomania. For 25+ years, it was my greatest source of shame that I desperately hid with make up. I thought I was alone and weird and wrong.
But when my secret came out, everything changed.
After years of marriage, a morning finally came where I couldn't get to my eyebrow pencil fast enough. Sameer saw, and asked "where are your eyebrows?" and I broke down.
Instead of being met with disgust and judgement, Sameer met me with love, and the desire to understand. With Sameer by my side, I could suddenly do the impossible: I took matters into my own hands.
With support from trained treatment professionals, research grant funding from the National Insititutes of Mental Health, and input from the BFRB community our team invented a smart bracelet that brings awareness to unwanted hand movements. Awareness and gentle vibration created the pause to take back control.
As our understanding of BFRB management evolved, so did our company.
Our smart bracelet, Keen, has helped tens of thousands of people with body-focused repetitive behaviors. Through our lived experience, serving our customers, and clinical research, we discovered:
The most effective way to soothe restless hands, is by soothing a restless mind.
There is no magic cure. But there hope.
1 in 20 people have a body-focused repetitive behavior, but there is still so little mention in the mainstream mental health conversation.
To manage my chronic hair pulling, I committed myself to helping others manage. By turning my pain into my purpose, I was forced to let go of the shame that held me back for so long so that I could talk proudly about my mental health condition.
It was not easy.
Letting go of the shame allowed me to look at my recovery objectively, and address what was actually triggering my hair pulling: stress from work, lack of a sleep schedule, and an internalized belief that I was only as good as my ability to keep my hands out of my hair.
I'm so much more than that. And so are you. Through managing my hair pulling, I discovered my passion, my voice, and what genuinely made life worth living. The HabitAware Behavior Change Method uses tools to build awareness, build your confidence, and teaches you practical management strategies so that you can set down the shame of this disorder that does not define you.
HabitAware's mission is to create resources, connect with, and raise awareness for those still learning to manage their Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.
We are humbled to be a for voice for those that are not yet ready to speak out on how these disorders affect their lives.
Meet the HabitAware Team
Aneela Idnani Kumar, Designer & "Trichster"
Aneela is the inspiration for HabitAware. She is a mobile app designer and has produced award-winning interactive advertising campaigns. Aneela has had trichotillomania for 20+ years and is excited to help others like her change their life.
Sameer Kumar, CEO
Sameer is data-driven, having worked in investment analysis, management consulting and corporate strategy. His favorite activities are cooking and playing legos with his son. Sameer is driven by the positive change he has seen in his wife, Aneela.
Kirk Klobe, CTO
Kirk has been fascinated with computers since childhood. He was integral to the launch of several IT consulting startups. Kirk can’t resist a good technical challenge, especially when the solution changes people’s lives.
John Pritchard, PhD, Lead Hardware Engineer
John is an inventor by nature and is fulfilling his dream of teaching at a university. He has worked in fiber optics and advanced military tech. He once made an LED light suit for fun. John is passionate about making things that are meaningful for others.
Ellen Crupi, Director of Business Development & Awareness
Ellen is a mental health activist and BFRB peer coach committed to educating and reducing the stigma around mental health and BFRBs. She is a BFRB expert trained in Yale University's SPACE program (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions). Ellen has been in trichotillomania recovery for 7+ years and when she is not helping others find positive BFRB change, she is enjoying exercise, baking, and really good coffee.
Mari Larsen, Lead Designer, Marketing Coordinator, & Community Engagement Manager
Mari aims to make positive change through her work and is delighted to do so for the BFRB community. Her experience with Dermatillomania helps inform her work at HabitAware.