I studied cosmetic chemistry and cosmetology for ten years at leading beauty schools of the West. During my training in London, I came across instances that caused me to wonder if I had chosen the right career. There was a newspaper report of a London model who became blind after using a certain mascara. She later committed suicide.
These tragic incidents changed the course of my life and career. I was determined to find a natural alternative. I started my first herbal clinic in my own home in 1971, based on the Ayurvedic system and adopted the principle of "Care and Cure"
What was the first big challenge that you had to face? How did you overcome it?
When I started, herbal beauty care, as we know it today, was non-existent. So, I faced the challenge of establishing a new concept and making it a practical reality. I had to make people aware of the dangers of chemical treatments and the benefits of natural care. So, apart from incorporating the concept in my treatments and formulations, I also made it a point to hold seminars and address press conferences, write regular beauty columns and propagated my ideas at a personal level. Very early in my career, I made it a point to reply personally to letters seeking solutions for skin and hair problems. Three decades later, I still maintain this practice, this personal touch. In my regular columns I still provide home remedies as solutions for beauty problems. In the minds of the readers, this has continued to reinforce my philosophy that "nature is the best cosmetologist."
I devised my own clinical treatments, not only for general care, but also for the treatment of specific skin and hair problems. I had no manufacturing unit at that time. I formulated the products myself, for use in clinical treatments and had to put in a great deal of work in terms of R&D. My products grew out of clinical usage, based on client feedback. My philosophy and faith in Ayurveda have not only influenced minds and markets, but have become an integral part of the brand image.
Why did you choose not to do traditional advertising? Without these, how did you build the brand?
In order to implement the idea of total beauty, with an emphasis on the good health of the skin and hair, I established customized beauty care, based on individual needs and problems. The idea was to make the beauty-care experience a truly rewarding one and establish a relationship of trust with the client. The Shahnaz Herbal system surpassed existing salon care by providing individual consultation and treatments. I incorporated a clinical system at a client card and prescriptive level, with diagnosis and clinical analysis of the skin and scalp condition. Shahnaz Herbal salons still follow this system. Clients are given advise on diet and nutrition, depending on their particular problem. They are also referred for pathological tests, if necessary. Clients with specific problems like hair loss, alopecia, skin sensitivity, pigmentation, scars, premature ageing, etc., are put on courses of treatments, with constant monitoring and advice on all aspects. The clients are prescribed products for home care, according to individual needs. Instead of commercial advertising, I relied on word of mouth and on the premise that a satisfied client is the best advertisement. In fact, this method contributed to lending exclusivity to the Shahnaz Husain brand.
Our unique franchise system is at the core of the brand and its success. Very early in my career, I began to encourage ordinary housewives to open salons in their own homes, so that they could achieve financial independence and yet, be close at hand to attend to home and family. I trained them and offered them the Shahnaz Herbal franchise. I also adopted a highly successful method to promote the new franchise salons, by making it a point to attend the openings. I inaugurated the openings, gave free consultations and addressed press conferences, speaking on the benefits of Ayurvedic beauty care. It was all based on personal interaction, where I met people, listened to their problems and provided beauty solutions. Thus, I was answering a human need. My presence at the openings evoked much media coverage and a fantastic response. This method proved so successful that soon I was attending two openings on the same day, flying to two or three different cities on the same day. Later, I adopted it for the openings of my franchise clinics and all other ventures around the world. I also adopted it for the opening of Shahnaz Ayurveda on Harley Street in London, in July 2007. The pace is hectic, but it has become a distinctive style and very much a part of the brand image. Unknowingly and unconsciously, in spreading Ayurveda across the globe, a brand was born.
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