In 2018, Rooshy Roy founded luxury clean beauty brand Aavrani, all while still working to complete her MBA at The Wharton School in Philadelphia.
By identifying a white space in the market, she coined the term "I-Beauty," a sector that focuses on beauty inspired by ancient Indian rituals, made accessible through clinically-proven science.
And consumers were here for it.
Come 2020, Roy was named a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, and already saw over $2 million in company revenue. But while Aavrani was a successful beauty brand experiencing exponential growth, Roy didn’t feel like a modern beauty brand founder.
Although other CEOs wished to be at the forefront, she preferred to stay behind the scenes, uninterested in being the face of the brand — all because within herself, she didn’t feel beautiful, and she didn't own her own beauty.
“The moment you say you’re a beauty brand founder, people scan your face, look at your skin,” she shares with InStyle. “I thought, if I’m going to build a successful brand through a business lens, someone else should be the face of it so I don’t have to put myself out there. But I realized that beauty isn’t just about products that work, the extra element of it is that it’s very personal, and it’s driven by how we feel about ourselves and our own identities.”
Aavrani’s old branding — a lotus flower, piles of spices, and henna designs — were reflective of a more stereotypical Indian experience, and not necessarily the one Roy envisioned. “I hadn’t even tried to reconnect with my culture since high school," she explains. "The [first] look was inspired by what the people around me loved about it."
As she explored her own journey with beauty and her heritage, she realized that if she wanted Aavrani to help women own who they are, and their natural beauty, then she had to own it herself. Up until that point, she was building her brand based on what she thought it should be, but not actually what it needed to be — especially for an Indian girl like her.
“Last summer when we were on-boarding our first full-time hire, I had to explain to this person what our company values are, what our mission is, etc. and that’s when I started to really feel like a fraud,” she reveals. “Here I was telling this girl that our brand is about owning your confidence, and understanding that beauty was about not only efficacious products but about sleeping well, eating well, talking to yourself nicely, but I wasn’t doing those things. I wasn’t confident in my own beauty, not enough to be the face of my own brand.”
In that moment, she realized it was time to reframe the entire company, based on the journey of accepting her own beauty and modern Indian culture.
Roy immediately got to work to revamp the brand. But instead of asking for approval from others or reviewing market research, she went with her gut.
The founder swapped her old packaging colors for electric blue — even though others advised that it was too masculine — along with bright orange to represent the mangoes her grandmother would cut for her, and fuchsia, for the pure joy she feels at an Indian wedding.
“This colorway is the most authentic representation of my relationship with Indian culture today,” she says.
Even the change in the logo was completely intentional: from lowercase to uppercase, to make a statement, and from serif to sans serif, because she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
But Roy still took the consumer along for the ride, being completely transparent about how branding decisions are made. “I wasn’t asking for their permission, I was bringing them along the journey with me," she explains. “I wanted to admit that I’m not there yet, I’m not this super confident beauty brand founder, we’re not that different, I’m going through this too and we can go through it together."
Every decision she made was a reflection of that shift in mindset from the first version. It was no longer about pleasing others and feeling like she wasn’t beautiful enough to be a beauty brand CEO. This was about stepping into this role with confidence and representing the true mission of Aavrani: #OwnYourGlow.
VIDEO: The Beauty Product Alicia Keys Uses “a Thousand Times” Per Day
The brand's hashtag #OwnYourGlow is about connecting with the intention of the rebrand.
Roy wanted to stop questioning herself and holding herself back from making decisions based on her perceived flaws. In the past, if someone thought she was too loud, perhaps she would reconsider the electric blue and go for something more muted. But this time, she decided her authenticity was actually her super power — and in the same vein, they were Aavrani’s superpowers too.
If she’s loud, intense or bold, it’s because she’s proud, confident, and hard-working. And the ability to change her points of shame into drivers of confidence is what Roy wants for Aavrani consumers as well.
Glow Activating Exfoliator
This cleanser-mask combo uses organic turmeric, neem, jojoba, and raw honey to gently exfoliate and brighten the skin.
To shop: $70; aavrani.com
Balance Restoring Serum
Use this toner's blend of tea tree oil, cucumber extract, chamomile flowers, and witch hazel to restore the skin's moisture barrier.
To shop: $60; aavrani.com
The organic coconut milk, meadowfoam, and rosehip seed oils found in this moisturizer work to nourish and soften texture.
To shop: $55; aavrani.com
From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space.
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