When it comes to beauty and wellness, here at DIANI Living we believe that self care comes from the inside out. We understand the importance of clean living and therefore seek out only the best in organic, all-natural products. Which is why we are excited to launch the new line of highly coveted Ayurvedic wellness oils from UMA Oils!
Featured in Vanity Fair, Forbes, Vogue and Goop, among others, UMA is crafted from pure botanical oils that have long been used in the beauty regiments of Indian royalty. Harvested from the founder’s family farm in India, these oils are based on centuries-old Ayurvedic traditions and tailored to address the stressors and ailments we face in the modern world.
Raised in India among her family’s farm, UMA Oil’s founder Shrankhla Holecek has always immersed herself in Ayurvedic traditions and holistic medicine. Caroline Diani was lucky enough to catch up with Shrankhla for our Pillow Talk series, where we chatted about career success, work-life balance and sleep rituals.
When you were in school, what was your favorite subject and what did you want to “grow up” to be?
Terribly predictable for a person of Indian origin – it was Math! I’ve always admired the logic and the elegance of mathematical solutions. Is it terrible that I don’t exactly remember what I wanted to be? I did a lot of theater and debate in high school – so I think I definitely considered law at one point (I ended up studying engineering).
What contributed to your goal of becoming the wellness/skincare businesswoman that you are today?
I think a part of Uma was born when I was – in that my family has farmed and distilled some of the world’s finest essential oils, literally for centuries – so as a child, I spent long summers at our organic rose farms, learning about our sustainable farming or extraction processes. And yet – another part of me wanted to get as far away from the family business as I could – so I studied engineering and moved to the States, got an MBA and worked with management consulting firm McKinsey for 5-6 years. So I’d be lying if I said there was one precipitating moment – it was the sum of my education, experiences and heritage that led me to found Uma.
How has your Indian heritage and Ayurvedic background influenced your career and shaped your life?
A lot of Ayurveda is just a natural part of Indian life. The use of turmeric, or tongue cleaning, or practicing Abhyanga were things we all just grew up with! I remember overnight hair oil treatments on Saturday. Our scalps were rubbed (and then steamed!) and we couldn’t wash our hair until the next morning. All varieties of herbs were brought into the mix – hibiscus, yerba de taco, amla – and laid on prolifically into our scalp and hair. Second was the Sunday body exfoliation treatment. A paste of gram flour and turmeric blended with honey and milk, was layered on my arms and legs and I was supposed to lay still for thirty minutes until it was sloughed off by my beloved aunt (oh the agony of staying still as a 6 year old though!). So what’s traditionally considered a modern day “self care ritual” – has always been a big part of my life, and how I’ve approached ideas of health, wellness, balance or beauty.
What do you think is the single most important ingredient to success?
Believing that you can do anything you set your mind to do.
What’s the most challenging part of your professional life?
I think reconciling with the fact that all the awesome opportunities for UMA cannot be had here and now – and that I must wait, or make time for play, or even sleep – is challenging when running a small business, with real resource constraints, but I think there’s a bigger life lesson in there somewhere!
How do you try to manage your work/life balance?
Fortunately there are a few things I love as much as work and seeing UMA thrive – spending time with my husband and a few close friends, travel, wine, working out – so I let the chips fall a little organically, as it were. Though, do I constantly feel guilty about not doing enough of each, including work? Absolutely.
What do you see yourself doing next to express yourself professionally?
I think we have been able to lay the foundation of doing beauty differently, more indulgently, more meaningfully, through UMA and I think the next step would be to really go global with this education and approach to give people a real toolkit to have the skincare and wellness results they seek – in a highly simplified but powerful, results-oriented fashion. I think making Ayurveda bite sized and contemporary- and universally applicable in the smallest or biggest way you choose, is the next chapter. And UMA as a product line is just a part of that great big picture!
How do you manage the fear and doubt that inevitably creeps in when you’re paving a less trodden path?
I think it’s part enjoying the challenge of creating something entirely new, and part reminding yourself to not take yourself too seriously. Failure is often catastrophized much more in one’s head than by the rest of the world.
What have you been most afraid of trying in your career, but you did it anyway?
Trite, but it was leaving McKinsey to go found UMA.
Was there any opportunity that you had in your life that you didn’t take?
This is a little broad – but I think I passed on a few great opportunities to travel by myself or even go live in a different city for a few months when I was a little less fettered as it were (not that I mind the old ball and chain terribly as it were!).
What is something you’ve accomplished personally or professionally that you never dreamed possible for yourself?
If I’ve to be really honest – not really. And this doesn’t come from vanity or arrogance – it comes from a general insecurity about never being good enough, I suppose.
Any sleep rituals that you use to help quiet the mind after a long day?
When I can, I practice Transcendental Meditation. I’ve had a lot of trouble with other meditation types – it’s the only one that works for me.
What’s the biggest gift you give yourself to recharge?
What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
Does “try to go back to sleep” count? More seriously though – I drink water and check my phone for about 15 minutes before rolling out of bed.
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
I rub my feet with Pure Calm Wellness Oil. If I’m feeling benevolent, I do the same for my husband.
Any recurring dreams that you have?
A plane crashing in the distance and me running away from it. That, and of course, not having taken enough credits to graduate on time!
What do you love most about your bed?
While I adore sleeping, I particularly enjoy drifting off watching a great show in bed.
How do you make your bedroom a sacred space?
I’m slightly maniacal about bedroom, and sleep hygiene, overall. I insist on absolutely clean feet in bed, and no shoes around the bed area (I have a ridiculous number of hotel slippers, yes). I can’t sleep in an untidy room and have been known to go on an unpacking frenzy at midnight after long travel. I change sheets often, pillow covers even more often. I burn organic candles, bring in fresh flowers as often as practical, disinfect the light switches and door knobs – so yep, pretty sacred I’d say!
Thank you Shrankhla, we are excited to have your amazing wellness products at DIANI Living!
Photo of young Shrankhla courtesy of UMA Oils
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