Equipped with an engineering degree and management consulting expertise, training in ballet and Indian semi-classical dance, and a keen eye for detail, there’s nothing this LA-mompreneur of two can’t do. Michelle Ranavat is disrupting the beauty industry with Ranavat Botanics, a luxury skincare line inspired by ancient traditions of Indian royalty, formulated with high performance botanicals.
Featuring masques, toniques, and serums that are paired together to address unique skin concerns ($40 – $175), the brand is rooted in its simplistic approach and minimal, yet highly potent ingredients. For instance, the Flawless Veil illuminating masque is made up of organic wild turmeric, organic sandalwood, and organic bakuchi seed which work in harmony to uncover fresh skin and help kiss hyper-pigmentation goodbye. All the masques are in their raw powder form which provides for prolonged use (no fear of drying out or cracking!)
Michelle and I chatted about her foray in the beauty sector, mommyhood, and our love for dance (we both are members of Payal Kadakia’s Sa Dance Company). Read on below and shop Ranavat Botanics here.
You said your life started after you became a mom. How so?
Becoming a mom forced me to set a high bar for my career. After graduating, I worked at Lehman Brothers simply to have a brand name on my resume. As I got older, I began to care more about aligning my passion and talents with my job. I figured if I was going to spend time away from my kids pursuing anything, it should be incredibly fulfilling. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and two cheerleaders now.
What was the seed that blossomed into Ranavat Botanics?
I had always been in love with beauty and skincare from an early age, though never saw it as more than a hobby. My mother in law is an aesthetician and when I was pregnant with my older son, she came back from India raving about how well Ayurvedic botanicals worked on her skin. I gave them a try, especially since I was only using all-natural, paraben-free products on my skin at the time. I tried to source them on my own but noticed a major lack of quality and consistency. So I decided to use my experience in supply chain while working at my father’s chemicals company to solve the problem.
So the concept for the brand came about organically (pun intended)?
Yes! Ranavat is a true representation of my personal style and ethos. For instance, I only have a few key pieces in my wardrobe – they’re simple yet made really well. I want to show skincare enthusiasts like myself and the beauty industry at large how effective a small list of curated ingredients can be when they are made incredibly well. The industrial engineer in me is always fascinated by how things are made. I always say “every ingredient has a story.”
How do you feel India’s ancient philosophies are perceived in the west and how are you looking to push the envelope in the beauty sector?
Often times the masses equate India with yoga and ayurveda. To me, there’s so much more to our culture and I wouldn’t want my beauty line to live in a crunchy environment. Much like what Sabyasachi has done for Indian couture, through Ranavat, I hope to bring out a different side of India – its rich history, ornate palaces and temples, and intricate jewelry.
What’s unique about Ranavat Botanics?
Ranavat Botanics is treatment based focusing on hydration, detoxification, and illumination. There is one masque and one tonique (a hydrosol) created to address each skin concern. We have also launched Mighty Majesty, a hair and body serum that is lightweight and incredibly hydrating.
As moms, we rarely make time for ourselves. How do you aim to change that?
I used to live my life for those moments I went on vacation or time away. Not with kids, there is no such thing as a vacation so you need to find small ways every day to recharge and feel special. To me, using Mighty Majesty in the morning after my shower takes me to that special place where I feel cared for and nourished. I think that feeling of self-indulgence is even more important when we have kids or are caring for others.
Did you have any qualms about becoming an entrepreneur?
I was a little nervous about launching Ranavat because ultimately if it was successful, it would mean leaving my dad’s company. When I told him he said, “I didn’t build my company for you to further my vision. I built it to teach you how to further yours.” When it came time to travel to India to source the best ingredients, my dad came with me. We hit the ground running from farms to factories and we had a blast!
Soon after launch, Ranavat Botanics got picked up by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. What was your reaction when you got the news?
Honestly there are times I still can’t believe it! I think having a very unique and strong point of view, aesthetic, and story to tell has played a role in standing out. It has been a combination of timing, the people who have believed in me since the very beginning, luck, and the Ranavat brand.
You and I are both lifelong members of the Sa Dance Company. How has dance shaped you as an entrepreneur?
I think being an entrepreneur to me is less about solving a problem or inventing something and more about creativity. My passion for dance allows me to express my creativity and has exposed me to my Indian culture in such a deep, meaningful way.
How do you strike a balance between motherhood and your business (your third baby if you will!)
I feel it’s about the average balance that I establish over the next 2-3 years. Right now, I am pretty work heavy but I hope to scale that back over time so that I can spend more time with my family. I do have some flexibility in my schedule and see the kids as often as I can. There are a lot of night and weekend commitments I hope to slow down in time.
What advice do you have for mompreneurs?
If you can create a living of something you love and are passionate about, you should do it! There is nothing more meaningful than leading by example for your children and showing them they can bring their dreams to life.
What’s a mantra you live by?
Don’t compare yourself. I think I was really scared to launch my company initially because the skincare market is so saturated. Ultimately, I believe there is always room for quality and individuality. If you have either of those things, it doesn’t matter if it’s the water business – people will want it.