After establishing a career and family in the United States, Priya Gogia found herself far removed from the 5,000-year-old ritual she shared with her mother in India.
“Somewhere along the way I forgot where I came from,” she says. “I forgot my roots and in this rediscovery phase I realized that I had missed just doing my simple, basic skincare and haircare routines.”
“Growing up in India, every Friday evening–or at some point in the weekend–my mom would sit me down in front of her,” says Priya. “She would literally grab a bottle of coconut oil, warm it up; occasionally she might use some herbs from the refrigerator, from her pantry, and infuse the oil with it and massage my hair.”
The weekly tradition traces back as far as her earliest memories as a four or five-year-old, and continued until she left India at the age of 21. But things changed on the road to becoming a mother of her own children.
“My excuse was life is in the way,” she says. “There is no time to oil your hair, it takes too long to shampoo after; I did not do that for a better part of a decade.”
When Priya started working from home, she carved out time to return to her roots, literally and figuratively speaking. She began shedding her collection of “beautifully packaged moisturizers, toners and lotion.”
“I just decided to say goodbye to all of that and just go back to the way we did things growing up in India, just using oil,” she says, noticing an improvement in her skin, hair, eyebrows and lashes.
Priya’s simplified three-step routine became the basis for Aaram, her line of Aruyaveda haircare and skincare products. It reflects her belief in being “restful when you simplify your routines,” and her brand’s namesake means “rest” in Hindi.
“When you simplify your overcomplicated life you will find yourself more rested and when you are more rested, you will feel beautiful from the inside, outside,” she says reflecting on how she reconnected to her origins of self-care.
Women Helping Women Succeed
If your first reaction to the idea of adding yet another thing to your never-ending list of commitments feels daunting, Priya wants you to know she’s walked in those same shoes.
“One hundred percent, I have been there,” she says. “You tend to prioritize your job between the hours of eight to six and then you’re constantly a mommy–a full-time mom and full time job. It’s not easy for anybody out there. I completely understand that.”
“But at the same time, I wanted to do this so badly for my kids and I knew I had to make the time for them to have these memories with me,” she says, likening it to the time we spend preparing meals for our children.
It’s helped to have the support of women whose own memories from childhood have been reawakened by Priya.
“To leave my career of 17 years and then to go into the beauty business where I’m absolutely a novice and I didn’t know where to begin, they were my biggest supporters,” she says.
“Yes, you must go and do this,” she was told by fellow Indian women. “You must bring this to everybody. We know the value of it, we have all experienced it.”
“It’s one of the core reasons home-cooked food and homemade beauty routines is how Indian girls relate to time spent with their moms” says Priya, who lost her own mother two years ago.
“It’s very powerful. It’s very common. It’s an emotion that kind of ties us all together.”
“This concept that I am bringing to the American market of ancient Indian beauty rituals draw from nature, observing natural resources around you,”she says.
If you don’t have a ritual of your own, Priya believes you can look at your surroundings in the spirit of “what grows together goes together,” in your natural environment, even if that’s not necessarily coconut trees.
“I just feel like whatever grows near you is beneficial for you,” she says. “So if you’re consuming products that are in your environment, they’re meant to serve you, whether it’s for your nutrition or whether it’s for your beautification, they’re meant to serve you.”
“Nature is the smartest business out there,” she says, adding that it “just doesn’t have a very aggressive marketing campaign.”
Fortunately for Priya, memories are more powerful than the most compelling marketing message.