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the story of AAVRANI

My parents immigrated from Kolkata to Detroit in 1986. They were born and raised in India, while I was born and raised in Michigan, so I grew up bouncing back and forth between cultures - too Indian or too American at any given point in time. AAVRANI honors my beauty and celebrates my duality by uniting my worlds: clinically-proven, modern-day routine and ancient, all-natural rituals.

My story

The kitchen was a sacred place in my grandmother’s Kolkata flat. It’s where I would watch her slice us ripe mangoes and fresh guavas on an old boti; where we boiled our water for bathing; and where I first learned about the spellbinding power of Indian beauty. 

On Sundays, during my annual family trips to India, I remember my grandmother sitting me down in front of her. First, she would massage a mixture of egg whites, coconut oil and castor oil into my hair. Later, she applied a turmeric-based mixture, with variations of raw honey, chickpea flour, neem oil and coconut milk, onto my face. 

After washing it all through, my grandmother would slowly and gently comb my hair in front of the full-length mirror that was attached to her rickety, cherry-wood wardrobe - while I’d stay put, studying my own reflection. My face would glow; my hair felt full and healthy.

During those sweet moments - instead of scrutinizing my unibrow, my dark eyes and hair, my pigmented, uneven skin tone - I would stare at myself in the mirror and feel beautiful.

Adverse experiences - specifically with respect to my cultural duality - intimidated me so much, that by the time I graduated from college, I was proud of how much I’d disassociated from my roots. I stopped eating with my fingers as soon as my turmeric-stained fingernails were deemed ‘disgusting’ in my 4th grade classroom. By high school, the beauty rituals my mother recreated for us in Michigan felt crude and unrefined. My grandmother’s hair recipes felt too sticky and greasy to bear anymore.

I got my business degree, moved to New York and started a career in finance - where, as luck would have it - there was no room for my culture anyway. I abandoned my Indian identity altogether, only occasionally experiencing that hint of guilt and longing for what I was leaving behind. 

This began to change when, after stress and non-natural beauty products had started taking their toll on my skin, I re-visited my grandmother’s recipes. The natural ingredients had an incredible effect - and the added benefit of re-connecting me with my heritage. 

AAVRANI is my way to share the secrets of Indian beauty rituals with you. To combine the two parts that make me whole. But it’s also my journey back to my roots; to re-discover and appreciate their intricacies. My vision is for all women who struggle with their dualities to embrace them instead. To celebrate their conflicted, immense, breathtakingly unique identities that make them who they are.

And to look in the mirror every day, and feel the way I felt as a child when my grandmother combed through my thick, glowing hair - beautiful.

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