Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 36 year old mom of 2 boys born in a suburb of Wisconsin. Dance and movement have been a huge part of my life from a very young age and they are the first ways I really started to understand and feel close to Indian culture. As far as I can remember, we would spend winter break in India visiting family- and I would make my grandfather climb into their attic to dig up old memorabilia. I think I get my infatuation with history from him. We would pour over old photographs and trinkets that were a part of my family and those are my first memories of really falling in love with traditions and keepsakes. I think what I love about family history is that you become closer to a community and you feel a sense of inclusion. Being included is something I didn’t always experience growing up.
What does a day in the life look like for you Michelle?
I wake up to my 2 boys coming into my room for hugs and snuggles. I’m not a morning person—so I usually depend on them to get me going! Once we’re up- it’s a mad dash to get them to school. I’m usually helping the nanny get things in order before I start my day and head to a Platefit class around 8:30am. After my workout – with coffee or tea in hand-- I’m back in my office and super energized to start my day. If I’m visiting retail partners or doing trainings I’m usually away from my computer and spending the day on the ground. I love these days- they are exhausting but I get such a thrill from seeing people experience my treatments in real-time. If I’m having an office day- I usually have a few calls scheduled, but I spend most of my day working on making new treatments. It takes such a long time- that I’m working 2019 releases already! I always have 5-6 projects going at a time- so there is always a lot to do there.
After work around 6pm I really try to unplug and only spend time with my family. These hours are the only time I really have on the weekdays and I do everything I can to make the most of it. We’re playing games with the kids (double trouble is a current favorite) and then doing our elaborate bedtime routines. Once the kids are asleep- my husband and I spend time catching up- and I usually convince him to do a face mask with me. Having great skin is clearly important to me, and I just don’t feel like myself if I’m not keeping up with my rituals. Once my husband sleeps around 10pm- a few nights a week I work with India for a few hours before heading off to sleep. It’s the time where I can speak with my suppliers and make sure projects are on track. Finally around 12am- I’m off to sleep and ready to get the next day started! One of the biggest gifts Ranavat has given me, is a love for life—no Sunday night blues here.
What inspired you to start your brand Ranavat Botanics?
I’ve always had a love for taking care of my skin and felt an urgency knowing that it’s the one skin we have for our whole lives. But if I dig in really deep – it was watching my dad come to the US in the 70s with no help and starting his business in the basement of our home. When you see someone slowly rise from the ground up you become a believer in the American dream. My dad gave me this confidence that I could do it, because he did—and that is what gave me the strength to start the company.
From a product perspective, I wanted to bring in all the elements I loved about India and the feeling of inclusivity. Growing up I was so shy to share my culture, but finally now, I’m so proud of what was created in India 5,000 years ago – and am completely energized to share it with the world. My engineering background really helped me bring this idea of elevated craftsmanship to life, making sure every ingredient is sourced to maintain the maximum vitamins and minerals.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
My advice is to try your best to be content in the present moment and not compare. Comparison is something I’ve had a hard time with, but the sooner you stop focusing on someone else’s timeline and story, the more energy you put towards actually accomplishing your goals.
What is your favorite beauty/skin ritual you would like to share with us?
My favorite ritual is masking. I have found masking to be an incredibly nourishing process for the skin. When I first learned about Ayurveda I saw how important “face packs” or masking was to their rituals. As I started experimenting with my own formulas, I started to notice HUGE differences in my skin over time. I honestly felt like at 35, I finally had the best skin of my life. I was more confident, I loved going without makeup (which is key when you have 2 young kids) and I really felt more energized.
At that point, I really knew these treatments worked, but I also realized that consistency was key. Just like the gym, you can’t go once in a blue moon and think you will have a 6-pack. You have to put in the work and skincare is no exception. This is why I find ritual to be a major component, we need to make self-care a habit and necessity.
What are some of your favorite rituals for self-care?
For me a huge part of self care (aside from skin) is drinking tea! I’m a HUGE tea fan and love exploring different types of teas from around the world. My favorites are of course our family chai recipe but I also love Jasmine green tea and Darjeeling.
What do you hope to achieve with Ranavat Botanics in the next 5 years?
I honestly don’t have any concrete goals. If I’m able to create new treatments and I can see people fall in love with the line, I will be fulfilled!
Any advice for women who are starting their own business?
I would focus on creating the most distinct brand possible. I think most people get to the phase where they have a good product, but I think more time and energy needs to be spent on the emotional part of connecting with the customer. Your customer should feel something. They should look at your packaging and your brand and want to be a part of your story. Great imagery, authentic storytelling and a unique point of view really play into all of this. Take a ton of time and invest in all of the little details- because that is what sets you apart.
How did you first hear about Haati Chai and what are your favorite pieces from the collection?
Meeting Stella and Ali was meant to be because I had heard about them 3 different times in a few months! First it was through both of us being featured in an article by our retail partners, then it was through a great interview done by Live Tinted, and lastly, Stella and I are both moms and a part of Fashion Mamas. Once we actually met, and I felt an immediate closeness to both Stella and Ali but also the brand. Not cutting corners, craftsmanship, making art, history, tradition, timelessness—all of these ideas tie both of us together. Then when stella told me how much she loves tea (I should have known by the name)- I was convinced we shared a similar vision.
Honestly I can see myself wearing everything from the collection- its all so curated and well thought through- with a story for every piece. A few of my picks are the Anna coin (the story!!), pearl signet ring and the dalit ring. I love how Stella does her stacks and maybe one of these days I can pull one off ;)
Is there something you would like to share about yourself or your brand that we did not ask?
One thing that defines Ranavat is our process- which involves always taking the long road to creating a product. I first focus on each ingredient and using fewest ingredients that will achieve my desired result. Once I select the ingredients, I work on process. Process is so important (almost more than the ingredient!). Extraction method is what ultimately determines the overall efficacy of the treatment- I always go for cold pressed (to maintain all the vitamins and minerals) and steam distillation (no chemical extractions) so that it is a pure and unadulterated botanical. Going the long road means we always bring you the absolute best- a treatment worthy of your skin. For example, for our jasmine oil in Mighty Majesty it takes over 150lbs of fresh flowers to create only 1 oz of the oil.