Who we are - Behind the scenes

Ellen Holtmaat

I grew up in the Netherlands. I have lived in many countries over the last decade, working, doing research and finishing my PhD. Since 2019 I am teaching at the London School of Economics and doing research on environmental politics and  the role of the private sector in global governance.

Mbrace is one of my social initiatives inspired by an experience I had in Oxford, UK. My short research stint at Oxford wouldn't have been as great, if it was not for 'Inner Space', a small meditation center on Broadstreet, that offered free daily meditations. This felt like a safe space where I could share my feelings with a meditation leader when I felt low, just sharing with her how I felt  made me feel lighter. I am thankful for places like these, where it feels safe to share. 

This experience gave me the idea for Mbrace - as these free meditation centers are not everywhere - to create a safe space in everyday places as well, to increase the chances for these kinds of encounters and to be able to be a listening ear myself for others.

Shruti Kulkarni

Born in India, I've had a travel bug since a very young age. While my father served the Army, I had the privilege of living among various communities and cultures. I changed schools every 2 years or less and studied my Masters in Electronics from the UK. I worked various jobs in Teaching, Technology and Consulting. Among all, travel was a way of learning in abundance. It taught me acceptance and respect towards others and a feeling of connect wherever I lived.

As a certified Agile Coach and having practiced for close to a decade, I am honored to have been trusted by many to hear them out. Listening to one another let's us heal in various ways.

During COVID times, the travel being halted, the thought has not changed. Connecting with eachother is all the more necessary. Imagine if we can make a difference as an individual, a community can surely make the world better. As is resonating with my life's journey, I am on Mbrace's path.

Marina Toeters

I grew up on a big farm in the East of Holland. After living in Utrecht for many years, I recently moved to Eindhoven, the Dutch 'Innovation Capital', with my husband and two amazing boys. I learnt that the great things in life are tangible. Progress is made when we start doing. I work in my creative space and I love what I do. 

A decade ago, after my Masters, I started  By-wire - a company that links fashion and technology. This brings together two industries with almost opposing dynamics. For instance, among many other projects, I've designed wearable outfits to heal babies with jaundice, which won the prestigious Red Dot award. Last year I started the Fashion-Tech Farm, a collaborative workspace to share production facilities and several fashion tech companies. I love working on projects with a social outlook. Mbrace is reeled out of passion for collaboration and am part of making it a reality. I work on the design and branding, in which the idea remains to keep it sustainable.


Ellen, Shruti and Marina come from completely different worlds. But the mission of building the Mbrace tribe is a common goal. With the help and support of our family and friends, we have made a worthwhile journey so far. We only hope that we, as a community, come together to respect the fact that life can be a bumpy ride for so many of us. Showing empathy, acceptance and sharing the gift of time can help us all have a heartful conversation. This will surely take us a long way ahead… So, Mbrace eachother today.