Aavrani Uses India’s Ancient Rituals for Luxury Skincare
aavrani is a luxury skincare company inspired by India’s ancient rituals for women in the US. The company utilizes thoughtfully curated ingredients to reshape the skincare market and has spent the past year preparing for launch this summer. On June 1st that day finally arrived and aavrani’s products are now available to purchase. I sat down with co-founders Rooshy Roy (CEO) and Justin Silver (President), to discuss their journey and their vision for explosive growth post-launch.
The fastest growing segment of beauty
Color cosmetics, men’s grooming, haircare, body wash, and more. All of these segments have one thing in common: women’s natural skincare is growing even faster. There are widespread lifestyle shifts towards health & wellness, as the natural beauty market will grow 10% annually with an estimated industry revenue exceeding $22BN by 2024. Looking at aavrani’s addressable market, South Asian women should represent over $700 million worth of natural beauty buying power in 2018 alone.
Amazingly however, the status quo remains riddled with a disparate supply chain of inadequate “Indian-inspired” products. There is no clear market leader in this category and, according to Roy, many Indian women in the U.S. are creating their own skincare treatments at home or settling for insufficient products, as there are no high-quality, ready-to-use alternatives available. Aavrani positions itself as a premium solution that replicates the benefits of ancient Indian rituals, using powerful ingredients (e.g., turmeric, almond oil, and rosehip seed). The company combines South Asian tradition with distinctive luxury.
Cosmetics can be a difficult industry for new entrants to differentiate themselves in. However, Roy’s notion that no other brand is focused on recreating the traditional skin-care regimen so many Indian women are familiar with is a unique angle. She points to the out pour of positive feedback and affirmation she’s witnessed from speaking to friends, family, and market research. In less than 8 months, the company has built a following of 10,000+ potential customers with little to no marketing expenses.
Founders brought together by…tacos?
Rooshy Roy, CEO & Co-founder of aavrani
Coming into Wharton, Rooshy Roy knew she was going to be an entrepreneur. “My career to date trained me to understand and analyze companies; now I’m ready to harness my roots to build one” says Roy. The former finance professional is a first generation Indian-American who grew up in the Midwest with a rich cultural upbringing. Her most vivid memories revolve around the community gatherings of Indian women, who would recreate time-honored skincare solutions using household ingredients (turmeric masks were her favorite).
“Aavrani’s goal is to champion women by encouraging them to embrace their true beauty, while reviving India’s all-natural, ancient skincare rituals,” said Rooshy Roy, CEO and Co-founder of aavrani.
Justin Silver, President & Co-founder of aavrani
On the second day of pre-term at Wharton, Roy was standing in line for tacos at lunch when she met Justin Silver. Little did they know, that chance meeting would be the start of aavrani. In the natural course of discussing each other’s backgrounds, Silver spoke about his experience in consumer-focused investing. At his last firm, Silver helped build another skincare business, Tatcha, as a portfolio company. This experience in skincare is one that he wanted to expand on as an entrepreneur. As they discussed that business and Roy’s background, they quickly came to the question, “why doesn’t Indian inspired luxury skincare exist?” That question came to define the next year of the team’s life as they created aavrani.
Roy and Silver have an incredibly compatible co-founder dynamic; distinct personalities with equally rigorous worth ethics and a shared vision.
“There is a founder balance that is not quite siblings, and not quite strangers. It’s a match that is rare and complementary,” noted Silver. According to Karl Ulrich, professor at Wharton and Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship, founder disagreement is the number one cause of early company failure. Watching Roy and Silver work together, it is clear that they are in this for the long run, aligned in all the right ways.
“There is a founder balance that is not quite siblings, and not quite strangers. It’s a match that is rare and complementary” Justin Silver, President and Co-founder of aavrani
Aavrani’s products and brand
The 4-step Aavrani ritual
As the founding team thought about the most important pillars of the company, product quality was number one. “Without great products that are authentic and efficacious, we are nothing,” says Silver. Aavrani’s signature product is a 4-step product ritual to be used in succession, enabling users to achieve and maintain healthy, glowing skin. To develop the products, the team leveraged Roy’s experience of creating home remedies, and enlisted a team of chemists a manufacturer in San Francisco to formulate all-natural, cruelty-free, and clinically tested solutions with a 24-month shelf-life (home remedies typically last less a day).
The aavrani ritual
Step 1: glow activating exfoliator (dual purpose cleanser + mask)
core ingredients: turmeric, neem oil, raw honey
Step 2: balance restoring serum (toner)
core ingredients: tea tree oil, chamomile flowers, cucumber extract
Step 3: softening hydra-whip (moisturizer)
core ingredients: coconut oil, shea nut, rosehip seed
Step 4: eye rejuvenating elixir (eye crème)
core ingredients: almond oil, rose water, avocado oil
“Without great products that are authentic and efficacious, we are nothing” Justin Silver, President and Co-founder of aavrani
The name “aavrani” is intentionally centered around the word “rani,” which means “queen” in Hindi. Female empowerment is core to the brand. In addition, aavrani tackles the deeply embedded Indian stigmas that promote the practice of skin lightening. Even today, the industry exploits cultural stereotypes and promotes lighter skin as “better”. Women around the world use chemical bleaching agents and harsh substances to lighten skin. aavrani challenges the notion that women need to change anything about themselves to be considered beautiful.
Skincare with a purpose
Shanti Bhavan, charity partner of Aavrani
In parallel to their efforts in the U.S., aavrani proudly supports empowerment in India through their partnership with the Shanti Bhavan School, which equips impoverished children with education and social stability.
With nearly 300 million people in India in poverty, many families are unable to send their children to school. The Shanti Bhavan charity empowers children from impoverished backgrounds to take control of their lives and bring positive change to their families and communities. Each child in the program receives 17 years of education, enabling children to break the cycle of poverty to a life of achievement.
Aavrani’s focus on empowering women is directly aligned with Shanti Bhavan’s mission of empowering children with the skills and confidence and they need to compete in the global marketplace. Aavrani measures their impact as the number of days of school they can provide to students at Shanti Bhavan (each US dollar provides one student’s classroom needs for a day). Aavrani has pledged to donate a portion of its annual revenues to Shanti Bhavan to further their cause. You can learn more about the great work Shanti Bhavan is doing through their Netflix documentary: Daughters of Destiny
Aavrani just launched this past Friday and is already moving inventory. StartU readers can use code “STARTU2018” to receive $50 off their signature ritual sets (normally $200). The company is offering a special giveaway to the first 500 customers who purchase a ritual set and follow them on Instagram. (Spoiler alert: it’s a sweet tote bag.)
In the fall, aavrani expects to raise a larger seed round to fund team expansion and inventory supply leading up to the holiday season.
When asked what sort of sales or funding numbers they were hoping to see this summer, Roy excitedly said, “For now, we are focused on outstanding customer reviews. Our goal is to deliver the best product and for our customers to recognize that.” With skincare deals booming in 2018 and VC funding at all-time highs, it is definitely an exciting time to launch a consumer brand.