I can remember the Work Sesh when Michelle Ranavat first shared the details of the company she was building, Ranavat Botanics. I'm probably misquoting here, but she said something like: "Korean skincare has become so popular here in the States, and I'm looking forward to the moment when the rest of the world discovers how powerful ancient Indian skincare rituals are too."
I was intrigued. Very intrigued. Because I had just read Charlotte Cho's book describing the skincare rituals and customs in Korea, but I didn't know anything about skincare rituals in India, and I was eager to learn more.
Michelle shared how important it was to her that her line was all-natural. And she spent a great deal of extra energy to ensure that it was. Her masques are Made Safe Certified, and her toniques are USDA Certified Organic.
After months of perfecting her formulas, designing the most beautiful packaging, and building a thoughtful, intentional, and impactful brand, Michelle officially launched Ranavat Botanics last week at the Indie Beauty Expo.
Ranavat Botanics has already been named one of the "New Indie Beauty Brands We're Obsessed With" by Domino Magazine, and I'll bet it won't be the last time we hear the media singing the Ranavat praises this year.
In the interview below, Michelle shares more of the behind-the-scenes details with us. We hope you enjoy learning more about Ranavat Botanics. Pop over to www.ranavatbotanics.com to get your very own masque and tonique to bring the ancient Indian ritual into your home.
How did you become interested in the beauty industry?
I have always been a beauty junkie. It all started with makeup (lipstick in particular). I would spend hours researching new products and was in constant search for that “perfect” nude lip color. As I entered my 30s, I became interested in skincare and loved discovering new products that made an impact in my complexion. More important than any product in particular, I realized, is the importance of a good hat & sunblock—which frankly is the basis of my beauty routine.
What makes your business unique? What about your products?
Ranavat Botanics is uniquely and genuinely me. From my obsession with florals (the packaging), love of India (ingredients), focus on integrity and honesty (USDA & Made Safe certified) – it is all just a representation of who I am. Also, while typical lines start with a cleanser, toner, and lotion, I’ve started from the treatment side. I just fell in love with this idea of mixing and masquing. The 3 toniques and 3 powder masques either bring hydration, detoxification, or illumination. The real fun starts when you mix different healing properties and boost the skin beautifying impact with your own combinations. For example, I love combining the Jasmine Tonique (hydration) with the Eternal Reign Masque (detoxification) for an anti-aging treatment that smells divine.
What is your business background?
Business has been in my family for many generations on both sides of my family. My dad spent his childhood in my grandfather’s chemicals shop in Mumbai and eventually moved to the US, where he started his own company in the basement of our home in Wisconsin. He didn’t have any money to purchase inventory, so he would cold call until he was able to secure an order and then would source his product. He has since grown his company on a global level with over 22,000 products. I worked a few summers in his office as a child but always wanted get a job on my own. During the summer I was a gift wrapper at Marshall Fields and also worked in the Men’s Suit Department at Nordstrom folding clothes. In college, I studied Industrial Engineering and have my Masters of Science in Engineering Management. After school, I moved to NYC and worked at Lehman Brothers in the securitized products group and then at a clean energy investment firm. I joined my dad’s company about 7 years ago and recently moved to LA.
What inspires you?
Dance in general (Bollywood and ballet among other forms) has been a huge part of my life and serves as a great source of inspiration. I started seriously training in ballet around age 25, which is at least 20 years too late! At the time I was living in NYC and I met an amazing group of women who started late just like me. We worked hard—taking class daily on the weekdays and training for 8 hours on the weekends. We loved it, and after 7 years we were best friends and eventually performed at the City Center in NYC. It was by no means a huge performance, but afterwards I promised myself to never feel scared of being “too old” to achieve a goal. And honestly, even if it never amounted to anything, the women I met will always be some of my closest confidants.
How do you balance work and family?
This is a tough question because I don’t think I’ve found the right balance yet. Some weeks might be very work-heavy and others I may have a bit more time with the kids. With 2 very young boys, schedules are unpredictable, and I have really come to accept that. I try to be completely offline from work or personal phone calls between 6pm-8pm so that I can get really good quality time and snuggles with the boys before they are off to sleep. However, if something needs to get done—I’ll get back at it again at 9pm. Between my husband and I, we really try to make it work. It’s not always perfect, but with two little ones perfection is impossible.
What has been the hardest challenge in starting your business?
For me the toughest challenge has been managing my stress level. It’s only been 9 months since the formation of Ranavat Botanics, so there has not been a lot of breathing room. Reaching different milestones has been extremely challenging and, at times, very stressful. Stress and anxiety, combined with lack of exercise, sleeping, or eating properly really hit me hard over the last few months. I’ve begun to add a lot more self-care into my life, but when it’s crunch time that isn’t always possible. To manage stress, I try to eat well, eliminate any type of social media (it can be draining and take away precious time where you could be interacting with real people), and call my mom (more on that below!).
Who are your role models?
My dad is a very important role model for me. He has built his whole business on honesty and integrity. He always says, “I would rather make less money than lose sleep.” When we lost a big order, he never got upset. Instead he talks about how grateful he is for what he already has. Any time I have asked him for help (and this is often), he says, “I would love to help.” The day I told him I wanted to try to start something on my own (which meant leaving his company), he said “I’m so proud of you. I built my business not to give it to you, but so you could learn how to create your own one day.”
I probably talk to my mom about 3 times a day, and she always brings me some perspective. If I’m comparing myself to another person or complaining about someone’s reaction, she is quick to end that thought process. She is very good about brushing negative thoughts away and never believes you should try to change anyone—for her, it has always been about acceptance. It’s these little mental tools she offers that help me focus on the positive and get me back to doing what I love.
Anil, my husband, is also a true role model. He works 12 hours a day 5-7 days a week and always finds time for the kids (he is up at 5am!). He is the first to take them to classes after a long travel week and the last person with them before they sleep. I also admire how much effort he will put forth for his friends and family. No matter how exhausted he is, he will celebrate until the bitter end and actually have a good time doing it. For as much as he has achieved professionally and personally, he is extremely humble and never boasts or even mentions his accomplishments. I’m so thankful to have him by my side.
Photography by Grey & Elle for Ranavat Botanics