Priyanka Ramesh: Founder of PAYARU, a Hoboken-Based Skincare Co

Written by:

Taking care of our skin is, quite frankly, important. After all, it is the biggest organ on our bodies. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to many of us, a lot of our tried-and-true skincare brands are in fact not necessarily great for our skin. They often contain harmful chemicals that can be detrimental. But fear not, as there’s one skincare brand out there that focuses on non-toxic skincare. Enter PAYARU — a Hoboken-based skincare company owned by Priyanka Ramesh. Priyanka co-founded this company while on a quest to become a conscious consumer. Priyanka shared with Hoboken Girl how  PAYARU got started, what her life is like in Hoboken, and more. Keep reading to learn more about Priyanka Ramesh, on owning PAYAru, life in the Mile Square, and more. 

priyanka ramesh payaru

Tell us about yourself. 

I’m Priyanka, the co-founder and president of PAYARU, a new guilt-free and non-toxic skincare company based in Hoboken. I am also doing my PhD in neuroscience at NYU and am a classical Indian dancer, a wife, and a mama to two spirited cats, Soup and Beans.

How did PAYARU get started?

I started PAYARU {pronounced “pa-ya-roo”} for two main reasons:

I was tired of searching for a simple, natural skincare product that didn’t have any harsh chemicals. I was at a point in my life where I was starting to change my lifestyle habits. I was trying to become a conscious consumer: eating more wholesome and organic food, shopping only second-hand or sustainably sourced clothing, decluttering my home, and trying to maximize my life while minimizing all the physical “stuff” I have. And despite all my efforts of trying to switch to a more natural lifestyle, I couldn’t seem to find a natural skincare brand with ingredients that I could trust and didn’t feel guilty about. I wanted to be able to read the ingredients list and feel good about the contents. Most of the time, however, I felt confused. I found that a product can claim to be “all-natural” and yet be full of ingredients that are unpronounceable and artificial.

The second reason being that since I was trying to change my lifestyle around, I was also struggling to find a skincare product without microbeads. Microbeads are tiny plastics that are placed in various skin cleansers, scrubs, and even toothpaste, in order to act as an exfoliant. But these microbeads, when flushed down the drain, don’t get filtered out by the water filtration systems and end up in the ocean, where fish and other marine organisms mistake them for food. I wanted to use a skincare product that didn’t have these tiny, pesky plastics.

So after searching high and low, I decided to make a natural face cleanser of my own. I went back to my roots and relied on the ancient cleansing traditions of my grandmothers and great grandmothers in India. They used the mung bean, a tiny but mighty bean that is not only used for food, but also as a gentle exfoliant. And thus, PAYARU was born.

Our flagship product is the three-ingredient mung bean face scrub. And as the name suggests, the formula is made with only three ingredients: natural vegetable glycerin, mung beans, and kaolin clay. Our products are never tested on animals, are entirely vegan, and biodegradable. All of our ingredients readily decompose when flushed down the drain — therefore leaving no impact on the environment. And most importantly, our products work! They are not only an excellent skin cleanser, but they are also great for all skin types {I have sensitive skin}.

At PAYARU, we believe in feeling good about what we put on our skin. The quality of our ingredients, how they impact us, and how they sustain our environment. That is why we carefully source our ingredients and keep our products simple and all-natural.

See More: Jaclyn Fulop on Life as a Mom, Business Owner, + Being First Lady of Jersey City

Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

I have three people I look up to most: my mother, my father, and my husband. My mother with her endless kindness, my father with his willingness to help in any situation, and my husband with his drive and constant support. I am always amazed at how these three people can turn any situation into an opportunity to mend, learn, and grow.

I am also inspired by stories. Stories of the people around me, stories of my ancestors, stories of my friends, and stories in books.

What are your goals for this year?

Oh man, I have so many. For one thing, I’m really excited to watch PAYARU grow this year. I am also looking forward to finishing my long-awaited PhD — I have been working on this for five years now and it’s nice to know that the end is nearing.

On the smaller side, I want to perform Bharathanatyam {a classical Indian dance form} on stage again and want to start being able to take my cats on a walk {they are being leash trained as we speak}.

priyanka ramesh

What’s a typical day look like for you?

Every day is a little bit different. I generally cherish my mornings — doing things slowly. I wake up, attempt to meditate using a guided meditation app, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day. I play with my two cats, feed them and get out the door. Some days I am teaching, some days I work with children to do some neuroscience research, some days I am trying to analyze the data I have, some days I am in meetings all day. I like to work on PAYARU bit by bit throughout the day. When the day is done in the evening, I like to do some form of exercise and then head home. My husband and I take turns cooking dinner. We feed our cats, spend time with them and with each other, head to the PAYARU manufacturing space nearby and fulfill the orders for the day. My days are long but they are fulfilling.

What has been the highlight in your life so far? 

This year has been my highlight. It has been totally crazy and unlike any other. I got engaged, married, moved to Hoboken, bought a house, taught four different courses, and launched my business. By the end of this year, I will have visited my home country of India three times this year alone. Filming and producing my very first PAYARU ad was an amazing experience. I had never been on a set before, so learning about all the equipment and filming process was wonderful. The most exciting thing so far was when we got our very first order for PAYARU. It felt totally surreal and it never ceases to excite me.

Tell us about another business in the area you admire.

Food places always come first to mind. I absolutely love Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato. They make their own cones in the store and they have really delicious vegan options. I also love that they use compostable cups and spoons.

I also love Organic Basic Foods. It’s the only place that carries bulk foods in Hoboken — nuts, grains, beans, and lentils. I try to minimize my waste and I find that buying in bulk with your own container is the best thing. It’s cheaper for both the store and the consumer and it’s gentler on the environment.

Read More: Nellie Moyeno: A Q+ A With This Longtime Hoboken Resident

priyanka ramesh hoboken girl week

Hoboken + Jersey City Favorites

What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

I love having dinner at Satay, a Malaysian restaurant in Hoboken. It’s truly the best Malaysian place we have been to and their menu is extensive and delicious. I especially love the kari sayur campur {spicy vegetable curry} with rotianai {crispy, flaky pancakes} and the green curry with Hainanese rice.

We also love Zafra, a pan-Latin restaurant in Hoboken. Everything tastes home-cooked and fresh. They make the best tamales I have ever had, hands-down.

What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?

Does a thrift store count as a boutique? I enjoy perusing through St. Mary Advocates on Garden and 6th Street. They have great quality merchandise {anything from clothing to kitchenware} for a great price. The people who work there are also always kind.

I also love shopping at Vintage on First. They have a beautiful selection of vintage clothing — my kind of style.

What do you love most about Hoboken?

I love my walk from my home to the PATH train. My favorite is when I cross through Church Square Park, which is always so lively with children and pets playing around. I always feel like I am walking through the heart of Hoboken. I also love the Hoboken Public Library, with its wonderful museum passes and free resources like Libby, a library ebook and audiobook app.

What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?

I love to just walk with my husband {and hopefully eventually with my cats too — see the question about my goals for this year} around town. We cherish our weekend routine: waking up, cooking breakfast, walking around, grabbing coffee at the wonderful little coffee shop The Little Local, go to Church Square Park, maybe go to the Hoboken Public Library and check out the events that are happening there, and end the day walking on the waterfront and grabbing some gelato at Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato.

How long have you lived and/or worked in Hoboken?

We moved to Hoboken in May of 2019, but we opened PAYARU’s headquarters in Hoboken in April of 2018.

priyanka payaru

What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?

I have to say Pier C Park, especially in the evening. The views of the NYC skyline are extraordinary and even though it’s always busy with people, it manages to feel serene and quiet at the same time {at least to me anyway}.

What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County?

I haven’t had the chance to really seek out gyms here in Hoboken. I usually finish work in Manhattan and go to a dance class near work. And in the times I don’t do that, I do high-intensity interval training at home, watching and moving to a fitness YouTube channel {Fitness Blender, to be particular}.

That being said, my ideal goal is to have my weekly routine as mentioned above and have weekends where I join Work It Out and kick butt with other strong, powerful women.

Where do you go out with friends in the area?

We don’t go out drinking much. We prefer to cook a big yummy dinner for our friends and eat on our patio. We also love just walking around Hoboken with our friends and showing them the little gems around town. {But if I had to pick a bar, I would choose The Stewed Cow any day — because who doesn’t love riding a mechanical bull that always seems to get his way.}

What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?

I would love to see bulk food stores come to Hoboken. Hoboken is an eco-friendly city, with its plastic bag ban, residential compost drop-off program, bike share system, etc. And while we have many grocery stores, we are lacking stores that offer bulk goods such as oils, soaps, flours, etc.

Keep up with Priyanka at www.payaru.com, on  Instagram at @payaruskincare, or send her an email at priyanka@payaru.com or contact@payaru.com


Written by:

Arielle is a born-and-bred Jersey girl and like a true NJ native, half her diet consists of bagels and the other half pizza. As a graduate of both American University and City, University of London, she’s been a passionate writer ever since she wrote her first “book” in the first grade. When she’s not furiously typing away at her keyboard, she spends her time ticking places off of her “to travel to” list, trying any and all new foods, and trying to stop herself from spending too much money at Zara.