Aavrani Interview Questions

Tell us about your background and what led you to start AAVRAN

My parents immigrated from Kolkata to Detroit in 1986. They were born and raised in India, while I was born and raised in Michigan, so I grew up bouncing back and forth between cultures – too Indian or too American at any given point in time. AAVRANI honors my beauty and celebrates my duality by uniting my worlds: clinically-proven, modern-day routine and ancient, all-natural rituals.

By the time I graduated from college, I was proud of how much I’d disassociated from my roots. I stopped eating with my fingers as soon as my turmeric-stained fingernails were deemed ‘disgusting’ in my 4th-grade classroom. By high school, the beauty rituals my mother recreated for us in Michigan felt crude and unrefined. My grandmother’s hair recipes felt too sticky and greasy to bear anymore.

I got my business degree, moved to New York, and started a career in finance – where, as luck would have it – there was no room for my culture anyway. I abandoned my Indian identity altogether, only occasionally experiencing that hint of guilt and longing for what I was leaving behind.

This began to change when, after stress and non-natural beauty products had started taking their toll on my skin, I re-visited my grandmother’s recipes. The natural ingredients had an incredible effect – and the added benefit of re-connecting me with my heritage.

What were the ancient practices that your grandma (or mom) used to follow and passed on to you?

The kitchen was a sacred place in my grandmother’s Kolkata flat. It’s where I would watch her slice us ripe mangoes and fresh guavas on an old boti; where we boiled our water for bathing; and where I first learned about the spellbinding power of Indian beauty.

On Sundays, during my annual family trips to India, I remember my grandmother sitting me down in front of her. First, she would massage a mixture of egg whites, coconut oil and castor oil into my hair. Later, she applied a turmeric-based mixture, with variations of raw honey, chickpea flour, neem oil and coconut milk, onto my face.

After washing it all through, my grandmother would slowly and gently comb my hair in front of the full-length mirror that was attached to her rickety, cherry-wood wardrobe – while I’d stay put, studying my own reflection. My face would glow; my hair felt full and healthy.

The rituals that were passed down never felt like a pursuit of beauty — they felt like a pursuit of health and general wellness. We were always practicing these rituals because they were either good for the volume and thickness of your hair or the inflammation on your face, so I didnt even make the connection that they were really beautiful.

‘I think it’s a challenge that only really founders understand deeply, because it’s a constant give and take between putting your whole heart and best into something like a creative, just because you have so much pride in your work and everything you showcase – and at the end of the day, I just feel like this is my art, and I feel exposed sharing it, and when you feel that vulnerable sharing something, you also want it to be the best thing you can. And there’s no number of hours or amount of time that’s enough until you feel secure about it. But then at the same time it’s like ‘OK, you gotta get a tagline out, you have to have some photos out, and then go back to running the business’. It’s a constant, constant challenge.’

Rooshy’s most recent solution to mastering this balance is bringing a notebook around with her, so that when she’s in a waiting room or on the train, and creativity strikes, she’s prepared. Still, even finding the time to let her thoughts play out can be difficult; bank meetings, investor updates, operations scaling – the indisputable facts of a founder’s day-to-day can seem all-consuming. And that’s exactly when that to-the-bone, persevering creativity finds a way to lift Rooshy up once again, like when she has an idea and pitches it to her team and it resonates – in the exact same way she hopes to do with the perception of India in the United States.

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