Ranavat Botanics: Brand Review & Interview with Founder
Ranavat Botanics is an Ayurvedic-inspired line that was launched by Michelle Ranavat in 2017. I was introduced to Michelle via another brand founder, and Michelle and I chat almost daily now. She is a mom of two little boys, she went to Tufts University in Boston for a Masters in Engineering, and we’ve ended up having so much in common. I love learning from successful women who’ve built something from the ground up, and it’s been awesome getting to know her. She kindly answered some questions for me, about the brand and her background, and how she got where she is today, so I hope you’ll check that out below! I am a bit of a history junkie (fun fact: I almost majored in History), and clearly I am also a beauty junkie, so I loved learning more about her line, which is based in Ayurvedic tradition and ritual— something we’ve actually been learning a lot about in esthetician school. Ayurveda is a 5000 year old wellness practice that originated in India, and many of the practices are used daily today in wellness centers and spas around the world— this is SO fascinating to me.
My Interview with Michelle
Can you share your personal journey, and what lead you to create Ranavat Botanics?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago – my parents immigrated from India in the 70s and started their life by working extremely hard. My dad is a chemist and my mom an interior designer (she wanted to be an architect but they told her that women couldn’t be architects so she chose the closest thing she could find). The day my parents found out they were pregnant with me was when my dad lost his job. Instead of moving back- he decided to take it as an opportunity to start his own chemicals business. 37 years later he is still working and growing the company and counts all the largest pharmaceutical companies and universities his clients. I always had both a creative side (from my mom) and a scientific side (my dad). I studied Industrial Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also have a master’s degree from Tufts University in Engineering Management. My first job out of college was in NYC at Lehman Brothers! I worked there until 2008 when the company collapsed. At that point, I switched back to my engineering roots and worked with my dad to grow his business.
After working with my father for a number of years in a sales and quality capacity I realized that skincare products were either incredibly luxurious but made with subpar ingredients OR the ingredients were great, but they were sold at supermarkets and on Amazon. I wanted to create a line that focused first and foremost on Ingredient quality because I find there is a genuine correlation between quality and performance. But instead of a medicinal experience, I wanted to make it all about Royalty. I was inspired by the beauty of ancient India
Did you always know you wanted to be a business owner in the beauty space?
I honestly had no idea I wanted to start a beauty business! I think part of the magic of Ranavat is that I wasn’t formulaic in terms of making it a business right away. I don’t have a “team” or investors – and I focus on creating products I personally use to bring the vision to life. Eventually I would love Ranavat to grow in to a business, but I always want it to be rooted in passion.
How would you describe the brand philosophy of Ranavat Botanics?
Ranavat is rooted in Ritual and tradition. My personal philosophy in creating skincare is to focus on sourcing the best ingredients that have been used for thousands of years, but also processing them in a way that does not use chemicals or heat to create skincare that works. I personally feel like there is such a big focus on ingredients and being clean but that is only part of the picture. If you take carrots for example- you can get frozen, canned, or fresh- and each of those will have a different nutritional content. Its really the same in skincare- process matters and fresh ingredients are just going to deliver better results and a more elevated experience.
I am both a history and beauty junkie, so for me, learning about the skincare rituals of different cultures is so fascinating. Did you grow up surrounded by Indian skincare rituals, or was it something you became interested in later in life?
I definitely grew up with so many Indian traditions—but most of them were centered around food. It was not until I had my two sons that I started to discover and get interested in Ayureda. We have a 30 day post birth period where you follow these elaborate rituals (eating certain foods, not washing your hair, etc) and I followed as many as I could- and really found them to work. I remember thinking that if the postpartum rituals worked, I should try these beauty treatments. I started making my own skincare based off of these formulations and started to see my skin improve—and knew that I needed to make Ayurveda more accessible.
What was that AHA moment you had when you realized you could really create something special?
I feel like every product has its own AHA moment- but the one I can remember most is Mighty Majesty. When I had my two boys I just had the worst postpartum hair loss and I wanted something that would help make my hair stronger and longer. My mom always talked about amla for hair- and after discovering how widely its used in India I knew I had to give it a try. I saw some incredible results from Mighty Majesty- yes, it helped my hair- but most importantly I felt confident again! My husband Anil who is insanely picky with product—started sneaking Mighty Majesty into his hair every night. At first it was once a week and eventually he started using it every night, to the point where I just gave him his own bottle. He can’t stop talking about the results- and I think if your husband starts stealing your products- it’s a good sign!
The Jasmine Tonique blew my mind— the most beautiful skincare product I have ever smelled, and is also a true experience to use— and now I can’t imagine my own skincare ritual without it. Can you tell me more about Jasmine and the creation of this product?
Awww thank you! So this one is interesting because its only 1 ingredient. That’s it! In formulations where you have a few ingredients mixed in- the quality of each of those ingredients can be OK because as a whole you can’t really tell what is doing the work. In a 1 ingredient formulation- you have nothing to fall back on—no artificial fragrance to make it uniform—NOTHING. I think it just allows us to appreciate the beauty of nature and the purity of the tonique.
Where do you see Ranavat Botanics going in 2019? Do you have any additional product launches planned?
I have a few new products I’m working on, but in 2019 I’m not putting any pressure on myself to launch something in particular. I want to be really proud of what I put out into the world- and I’d rather not launch until I’m 100% excited about the product. That being said, I’ve dreamed up something really incredible for Holiday—I can’t talk about it just yet, but let’s just say, it has a beautiful story behind it and it involves a new product category!
What advice do you have out there for other women who are looking to build their own business and brand?
My biggest advice is to build a business you are passionate about. Building something that is “a good idea” or “hasn’t been done yet” isn’t enough- you really have to LOVE what you are doing because especially as a consumer facing business- it really shows.
What is your favorite step in your skincare routine?
My favorite step is applying Radiant Rani. I always take a few seconds to warm the serum on my skin, massage it in from my under-eyes onto my neck and take a moment to breathe it all in. I just love the way it makes my skin feel: nourished and hydrated all at the same time and I really enjoy spending a few extra moments experiencing it!
What are your top 5 favorite beauty products that you can't live without?
For skincare, I only use my line- I’m pretty strict about that because if I don’t use it myself how can I tell people what the results are. My daily routine is always includes a tonique (jasmine or rose) and Radiant Rani as my serum. For hair- I seriously carry Mighty Majesty to salons when I get a blow out- because I love the results and scent. I also love HEAL, a decadent body butter by Beneath Your Mask- its amazing. I can’t live without a good brow pencil (Pixi Beauty makes a good one) and mascara (I use Loreal voluminous carbon black)—so good.
What is your favorite travel destination & the place you most want to visit?
Of course INDIA- Mumbai feels like home to me because I grew up visiting my cousins there every year. I have also fallen in love with Paris and Hong Kong and love that work takes me to both of those places-. They are magical in such a different way- and I would honestly live 3 months in India, Hong Kong and LA/NYC and Paris every year if I could!
What is it: This hair serum functions as an overnight deep conditioning masque to be washed out during a morning shower, or lightly applied as a finishing product. It has a high concentration of Vitamin C paired with sunflower oil, high in Vitamin E and Oleic Acid (Omega 9), which controls breakage and stimulates healthy hair growth, and nourishes the scalp. It contains Jasmine, with anti-fungal properties to create a protective shield to lock the oil in, and keep environmental moisture out, to strengthen the hair shaft, and keep the scalp flake free.
My thoughts: This has quickly become one of my favorite hair oils. I actually like to apply this not only as a finishing product, but while my hair is damp, as well as to touch up my curls to rehydrate them during the week, and reduce frizz. It smells of the most delectable Jasmine scent ever, and I even enjoy using this as a body oil too. It’s gorgeous. (Read the my review on the Jasmine Tonique below to hear me going ham about Jasmine).
What is it: Inspired by an ancient formula known as the Miracle Elixir, Radiant Rani is a lightweight high-performance serum created from a blend of Ayurvedic herbs and infused with over 2g of saffron in each bottle. Saffron was used by the Indian Royals for its brightening and antioxidant properties, to reveal a vibrant and glowy complexion. It’s especially good for dull, dry skin, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
My thoughts: This is an oil-based serum, with a luxurious saffron scent. I have combo skin, and this serum is truly light enough for me to use during both day and night time. It feels more like an emulsion than a full-on facial oil. I always apply oils onto damp skin, for the best absorption. My skin drinks this right up. I’ve definitely noticed brightening effects while using this, although I haven’t been giving up my Vitamin C in the morning. If you’re sensitive to Vitamin C, this could also be a great alternative. I love this product because its your serum, moisturizer, eye cream, etc in one. It’s been amazing for those nights I haven’t been feeling my best, and want to do a quick routine and pass out. If this is you most nights, I’d highly recommend checking this oil out! Pro-tip! for added hydration and brightening, add a pump to any masque.
What is it: This super drenching hydrosol is crafted from USDA certified organic and steam-distilled Indian jasmine flowers to soak your skin in a monsoon of moisture. Works beautifully to activate our Kiss of Royal Tea Powder Masque. The gentle sweet scent calms the nerves and lifts our spirits for a healthy complexion and a royally-relaxed mind and body. Works as a toner, masque activator or a moisture-rich hydrator for whenever your skin needs a drink.
My thoughts: Clearly, at this point it may be obvious that Jasmine is used pretty often in Ranavat’s products. Like Lavender, I am pretty picky about Jasmine scents. If it’s not good Jasmine, it immediately gives off old-lady vibes. THIS however, is one of the best smelling products I’ve ever used in a routine— ever. I know that’s a strong statement, but it’s true! This product has become one of my absolute favorite mists. While the mister itself isn’t the finest, it’s not a full on hose by any means. This truly has to be the best Jasmine in the world.
What is it: A hydrating bath of botanicals, detoxifying clays, manuka honey powder, rose petals, and exotic gooseberry to reveal a hydrated, and glowing complexion. Simply add water or mix with the tonique, until a paste is formed. Apply a generous layer to your face, let it dry completely and rinse with warm water.
My thoughts: I’m going to start by saying, you know I’m not a huge mask person, because I am just bad at consistently using masks and taking the time to really sit and do them. However, this mask is worth taking the time. It smells like caramel at first, but I religiously use the jasmine tonique with all the masks, and it immediately transforms into a jasmine garden scent. It’s a true experience, like all of Ranavat’s mask, and I love the glowing, hydrated, smooth, and plump feel this gives my skin. I even find it a tad bit clarifying, which I love! It’s a beautiful mask and I would definitely grab this if you are mask obsessed.
This masque can be purchased alone or as a part of the Royal Masque Collective, which also includes External Reign, a detoxifying mask and Flawless Veil, an illuminating mask. To be completely honest, I haven’t had a chance to try either of these yet, but they both have similarly fabulous ingredients, and I will update this post as soon as I have!
What is it? A darjeeling tea, referred to as the champagne of teas. It contains black tea, infused with rose and calendula petals, that impart a luminous glow from the inside out. The leaves are rich in bioactive compounds, including several that have health benefits. Antioxidants for graceful aging. This contains 10 individual triangle sachets, made of soilon-- a soy product which is fully biodegradable, leaves no chemical traces and is compostable as well.
My thoughts: I posted about this awhile ago in my stories— I love this tea! Not only are the sachets absolutely gorgeous, but the tea is delicious. It tastes like black tea, but a bit more fruity. While it’s often hard for me to tell which specific things I’m ingesting are igniting a glow, I do think that skin health starts with the gut, and what you’re eating and drinking. Anything that encourages me to drink more liquid, I am down for. These are truly a luxurious treat to your day, and totally embody the brand’s philosophy.
If it wasn’t already obvious, I have been SO IMPRESSED with everything I’ve tried, and I love Michelle’s philosophy of not launching a product, just to launch it, or for trends, but curating products that are the best of the best, with the best possible ingredients, that elevate your daily ritual in some way, while still staying true to the brand’s Ayurvedic roots.