How to live your truest self, having courage to dream big and dismantling the premise of being in control.
“There’s no such thing as failure, you’re simply being redirected to what you’re supposed to be doing.”
“Discomfort is an indicator that I am in a growth zone; I need to embrace it and stop resisting it.”
“Those moments that are difficult, or you’re not happy with yourself, they’re really trying to tell you something about what you should be doing.”
Can you tell us about you and the company?
Aavrani is an Indian inspired skincare brand united by ancient rituals, ingredients and practices that I grew up using and making with my family, combined with modern clinically-proven science. It is a fusion of my world and my roots, and I’m really excited to share these ingredients and clean skincare with the world.
If you could ask your younger self to give your current self a piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell her to step back and be present more often. There’s always an uphill battle to climb and it’s so easy to forget what you’ve already accomplished and achieved. Those things would make the little girl version of Rooshy so proud, so I would try to tell her to do that more.
What’s the best thing that happened to you in 2020?
A lot of wonderful things came out of 2020 – it’s just a matter of looking for them. One of the amazing things was my own self-discovery and driving the creation of the aavrani brand that you see today. I love my alone time, but even I was uncomfortable with it last year. It taught me that discomfort is an indicator that I am in a growth zone; I need to embrace it and stop resisting it.
What do you love the most about your job?
Firstly, it enables me to continue on this journey to becoming the truest version of myself. I never thought that I would be able to pursue a life and a career that’s so aligned with who I am and what my personal mission is, especially given my prior life in finance. I love the impact that aavrani has on people; every single review that we get never diminishes the reward I feel when I read how the brand has touched people. Whether it’s getting confidence back in their skin or making them feel cool to be South Asian for the first time, it’s such a powerful feeling and I love that.
Can you tell us about a particularly pivotal moment in your career? A time you can look back on now and think ‘yes, that was the instant everything changed for me’? And what sort of impact did that have?
The inflection point in my career was when I started at business school in summer 2017. I pursued it as a way to figure out what my passion is; I was in finance and realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. On the second day of school, I met my now Co-Founder, Justin Silver. The universe works in an amazing way and in that first conversation, Justin told me his experiences of working on scaling and growing brands through the lens of private equity. I was fascinated and inspired by stories of graduates bringing Japanese rituals to the US in a modern way, and I told him about the ingredients and practices that I used growing up – ones I didn’t think were cool or something to be proud of. I started divulging them for the first time with a sense of pride, and Justin was taken aback. He asked, ‘Why can’t we buy these products in the store? Why can’t we do this?’ At that moment, I started thinking, wait a minute, can I do this? Can I build something here? I had the safety net and resources of business school and a partner that was willing and excited to do this with me; if I didn’t do it then, I was going to regret it forever. Coming to terms with the fact that I would need to take a big bet on myself was the first step in getting comfortable with doing that over and over again, and I would never be able to take risks the way I do today without that pivotal moment. I learnt that there’s no such thing as failure, you’re simply being redirected to what you’re supposed to be doing.
How active have you been in ‘plotting’ your career trajectory? How much has it been ‘right place, right time’? And how much has it been specifically about setting goals?
We need to dismantle the premise of being in control and having a track; we have so much less control of our lives and our careers that we can even imagine. I’ve shifted towards the process more and understanding that if I’m putting my whole heart and soul into something, every single day, perhaps things won’t turn out the way I imagined, but they will turn out even better. As an example, growing up in middle school, I didn’t get good grades. I was very rebellious and at the time I felt like a failure. Everyone around me was being praised and celebrated for getting straight As and being all-star athletes, which amplified that feeling of lacking something in myself. Looking back, I’m so happy I went through that period because it was that feeling of otherness that propelled me to figure out what I’m good at. The world works in mysterious ways and it’s such a long-term play. Those moments that are difficult, or where you’re not happy with yourself, they’re really trying to tell you something about what you should be doing, and it’s important to not let those things eat away at your self esteem. Once I got to college, I realised that I’ve always wanted to start my own company, but I didn’t know what that looked like. I asked myself what was the best use of my time to break into the industry, and so I decided to pursue finance, specifically in investment banking. Once I had that focus, I turned my work ethic around 180 degrees; I suddenly started getting straight As and planning out my future on my own terms. It gave me such a sense of power and control because suddenly I determined what success was and what I wanted. That recurring work ethic and focus has led me to where I am today.
Roy will be speaking alongside two female entrepreneurs on how they’re forging the future of retail with creativity, vigour and purpose.