According to fashion designer Rachel Roy, her transition into the beauty space "has been a long time coming." After being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, the businesswoman decided to combine her knowledge of Western skincare practices with her Eastern Indian heritage.
While many are familiar with Roy's colorful clothing and funky jewelry designs, the businesswoman — who can now operate using her own name — decided to tap into the skincare space to continue her work of helping people feel beautiful, and from there, Ancient India Skincare was born.
The products in the luxury organic skincare line feature anti-inflammatory herbs such as saffron flower, babchi seed, turmeric, aloe, and many more.
As part of our Greenovation series, Green Matters spoke with Rachel Roy about how her personal values are a reflection of her organic skincare line, as well as the innovative sustainable ingredient Ancient India Skincare is using in its products.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
GREEN MATTERS: What inspired you to start a company within the beauty space, and how did you get started?
RACHEL ROY: In 2019 I developed a rare autoimmune disease called coup de sabre that was eating away at the tissue on my head. After numerous doctor visits at the best hospitals, only one doctor in the U.S. was able to treat it at Johns Hopkins, and he felt he might have a chance of stopping it but never of correcting the damage that was quickly taking place. Around that time my father passed away, I won a court judgment to purchase the rights to my name back, and I traveled to the Himalayas to meet the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra and study with Ayurveda doctors while placing my father’s ashes in the Ganges River. A lot going on!
The Western medicine only was slowly starting to stop the disease but not reverse it. However, the combination of the Western meds and the Eastern practices, not only stopped my coup de sabre it completely revised it. My Johns Hopkins doctor said this was nothing short of a miracle. This started me on my clean skincare journey. The fact that I could now operate solely in my name was a bonus that pushed me to my dharma of running a company with all that I had learned up until this point in both India and the States.
GM: What role do your personal values play in your skincare line?
RR: Absolutely everything in terms of how I want to run a company with everything that I now know to be true today. The formulas are taken from 5,000-year-old ancient medical recipes and the cleanest and best of modern science, the vessel houses the formulas in Italian glass, and with every purchase we give to women and children in need throughout the world and our values extend to the back end of the company, not just the front end.
GM: What are some challenges you’ve faced in building this business, or misconceptions that people have made about your company and/or sustainable/clean beauty products?
RR: Having 100 percent organic products is nearly impossible. Companies misuse that word, and in the U.S. they are allowed to get away with it. Words like "plant-based," "all-natural," are also misused. Two of the Ancient India products are 99 percent organic, the hyaluronic acid is the only ingredient keeping it from being 100 percent organic, and the scientists that made the formulas strongly believed in keeping the hyaluronic acid within the products to boost the hydration factor even more.
The formulations are cleaner than most skincare brands on the market today and highly effective because of the plants chosen, plants that ancient Indian sages have been using for centuries.
GM: Can you talk about why it’s important for Ancient India to give back to different organizations?
RR: For me, as money comes in, those that believe it will continue to come back are the ones that do not grasp onto it, the ones that take risks with what they believe in and end up benefiting greatly for doing so. As the child of an immigrant I know firsthand the blessing I have from growing up in America and I don’t take those blessings lightly. I could not start a business without it benefitting those that do not have the same opportunities that I have had. I would not even know how to go about that.
GM: What's next for your company? Is there an innovative sustainable ingredient that the company is using? More products soon to be released?
RR: Yes! A new product in late autumn and another this winter. Sustainable and strong ingredients to look out for are mushrooms. Snow mushrooms are an all-natural match to powerhouse hyaluronic acid but the particles are smaller than hyaluronic acid, penetrating the skin more easily.
They are also rich in fatty acids, which help retain moisture while stabilizing the skin barrier. Rich in vitamins A (natural retinol), C, and D antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the magic mushroom for moisture protection! Used for centuries for beauty. They are currently found in the Ayurvedic Repair Organic Serum Mask and the Fountain of Youth Ayurvedic Face Oil with much more to come.
“Greenovation” is a series from Green Matters that invites founders of companies that are not only disrupting industries, but also trying to change the planet for the better.