Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Rooshy Roy said, as the only Indian girl in school, she spent a lot of time feeling like an outsider and like she wasn’t meeting others’ expectations of “how an Indian girl should behave.”
Flash forward 20 years, and the differences Roy was once ashamed of are now the inspiration for her skincare company.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Aavrani skincare products co-founder and CEO Rooshy Roy explains how she built a successful business model from ancient Indian beauty rituals.
In college in Indiana, Roy settled on finance as a career choice because the program was competitive and she wanted the external validation of proving to everyone she could do it. She started her career in banking in New York and treated success like a “game” to win.
“I was calling them every day, I was reaching out to new people all the time just to get an interview, it was a whole thing” she said. “It became a game for me.”
Her hard work paid off. She got into finance, then immediately realized it wasn’t for her.
“In most of those rooms, I was the only woman or the only person of color or both,” she said. “And I kind of realized I was playing the wrong game.”
Roy then had to rethink her life goals and career path. She knew she didn’t want to do finance but wasn’t sure what she wanted. She decided to go into business school to figure it out. The second day on campus, she met her co-founder and it was “off to the races,” she said.
“Looking at my resume or my LinkedIn, you might think I was a straight-A student or had my shit together at any point in time before my twenties,” she laughed. “But I didn't. And I hope that by sharing that people realize that there's no timeline, everybody's on their own path.”
Aavrani was born from a conversation between Roy and her co-founder, Justin Silver, about a Japanese-inspired skincare brand called Tata. She realized that what she loved about the brand was that it combined elements of ancient Japanese medicinal and beauty rituals — something that could be done with Indian cultural practices as well.
“[Justin] would ask... ‘Every time you'd make a turmeric mask for example, you'd make it at home one by one with the ingredients?’ And I'm like, ‘Well, yeah.’ And he's like, ‘Why can't you just buy it at the store?’” she said. “And within two weeks of that conversation, we transferred all of our business school tuition into a joint savings account, and took out business school loans that I'm still paying off, but we just never looked back.”
Aavrani branding didn’t come easy. For a long time, Roy saud she had tried so hard to cater to what everyone expected an Indian skincare brand to be that she felt like she didn’t connect to her own brand. Instead, she said, she should have let it be what it was. Once she found her niche, it was just a matter of putting in the work to spread awareness on social media about their products.
“In the beginning, I posted every single day, three times a day for six months before we launched our product,” Roy said.
They launched and sold their first 1,000 products through social media in 2018.
Roy said she’s still found the most success in partnering with micro-influencers who genuinely love the product.
“If I see somebody who is peddling their product all the time, it's not going to resonate with me as much,” she explained. “But if I see somebody doing their makeup, and Aavrani is in the background — they don't even have to say anything about it, it makes such a statement.”
One of Roy’s biggest business struggles was conquering her own self-doubt.
“When you think you're not good enough, it affects the approach to your work, and then your work will not be good enough,” she said.
Her success in launching a business came from learning to re-frame her thinking, and give herself obtainable goals rather than extreme, unrealistic ones. Once she started doing that, she started winning.
“I've reframed it to [thinking that] starting the business has been the catalyst for my personal journey, and it's really the thing that I now look at as an output of my personal journey,” she said.
dot.la Social and Engagement Editor Andria Moore contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.