The Inspiring Story Behind a Skincare Brand That Draws on Indian Beauty Rituals

ranavat skincare products
This Skincare Brand Draws on Indian Beauty RitualsRANAVAT; GREYANDELLE

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Shop Small is a bi-weekly series highlighting small business owners from diverse backgrounds. This series aims to go deeper than your typical product roundup, diving into the inspirational stories behind some of our favorite brands. By taking a behind-the-scenes look at how their shops came to be and highlighting the products they (and their shoppers!) love, we hope to put a deserving spotlight on these marginalized business owners.

As a first-generation Indian-American growing up in Wisconsin, Michelle Ranavat felt othered for following Indian self-care rituals — like hair oiling. She hoped that when she started RANAVAT in 2017, her products would educate others about Indian culture and inspire them to embrace ancient philosophies.

Fast forward to last year, RANAVAT became the first South Asian-founded Ayurvedic skincare brand to launch at Sephora — a milestone Ranavat hopes "will pave the way for more diversity and cultural inclusion" in the beauty industry. The brand is also available at retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Bluemercury and Amazon.

"In the beginning, it was really difficult to not have the awareness on Ayurvedic philosophy" — a belief that wellness is based on the balance between our mind, body and spirit. Rather than treating a single symptom or indicator of disease, the philosophy (developed more than 3,000 years ago in India) seeks to understand a problem’s root cause.

"Growing up with that Ayurvedic philosophy, I realized that overall self-care is critical and RANAVAT aligns with the philosophy of making sure we are balanced as a whole," she says. "You can use the most amazing serums in the world but if you're super stressed, you can still have stress breakouts."

skincare bottles on glass table with flowers surrounding
RANAVAT’s top sellers are available in deluxe minis, so you can try the formulas at lower prices — which start at $15. GreyandElle

The Beauty of RANAVAT Products

The skincare line is defined by quality ingredients sourced from India — like turmeric, papaya enzyme, sesame seeds, bakuchi seeds and saffron, which also happens to be the world’s most expensive spice. Replicating ancient techniques, ayurvedic oils are infused with herbs in large copper vessels and hand-stirred. Meanwhile, full bakuchi seeds go through a decoction process that takes about 10 days "to keep the product as efficacious as possible and as close to the authentic formulation."

"We're for the customer who is really intentional about their purchases and wants to invest in ingredients," Ranavat says. "We purposefully don't have a ton of overlap in our offerings, because I believe one super well-made serum can replace 10."

Ranavat hopes to prove that there is science rooted in Indian rituals. "A lot of people assume that if you're talking about ancient science, that we may not have clinicals — but we do." One example: in an independent clinical study, 100% of the 32 subjects demonstrated a significant reduction in fine lines and wrinkles after four weeks of using the Brightening Saffron Serum.

How It Started

Growing up, Ranavat spent summers helping her father in his pharmaceutical warehouse — which grew her love for science and drive for entrepreneurship. “The journey is something that started very authentically to me,” she says. “A lot of the entrepreneurial spirit stems from watching my dad start his company. I saw him super scrappily build a business in the basement of our home, and that always left a pretty big impression on me.”

Later in life, Ranavat reconnected with Ayurvedic tonics, recipes and strategies when they had a profound impact on her during childbirth and postpartum recovery. "That's really when I started to dig back," she says. "When I had my kids, I started to notice all these changes like postpartum hair loss — plus in my 30s, I definitely noticed a change in my skin. That's when I started to ask questions like, 'What did the people before me do'?"

ranavat skincare products in front of pink curtain
Our products are incredibly luxurious, from the packaging to the scents to the experience," says Ranavat.GreyandElle

As an Entrepreneur, She’s Learned:

  • "Keep going and keep focusing on your 'why.' I don't put time limits on my goals. If my goal was something like ‘I've got to launch into Sephora,’ I probably would have given up a long time ago, because that didn’t happen for five years."

  • "Mentorship is incredibly critical, especially as someone breaking into a new industry. I was seeking them out — it wasn't that people were knocking on my door by any means."

  • "Invest in the team that you build. Just like our products, we don't put any ingredients into our team — we have to make sure that it's the right fit and the right person."

You Might Also Like