What has been your big­gest chal­lenge as a busi­ness owner, and how have you met that chal­lenge?

Shoes & Accessories - - Women Entreprenuer -

En­ter­ing the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket was the big­gest chal­lenge. I par­tic­i­pated in the Fes­ti­val of In­dia in Lon­don in 1980 and was given a counter in the Per­fumery Sec­tion at Sel­fridges. In the face of fierce com­pe­ti­tion, to stand up alone and sell In­dia’s an­cient civ­i­liza­tion in a jar was not easy. To ev­ery­one’s sur­prise, the en­tire con­sign­ment sold out in 3 days, break­ing the store’s ex­ist­ing cos­metic sales records. It re­sulted in a per­ma­nent counter at the Lon­don store. From there, we moved on to Har­rods in Lon­don, Ga­leries Lafayette in Paris, the Seibu chain in Ja­pan, La Ri­nascente in Mi­lan and El Corte Inglis in Spain. Ob­sta­cles and hur­dles come up in life, but I have tried to meet them as chal­lenges, with my de­sire to ex­cel, my re­lent­less de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed, an iron will and sheer hard work. I be­lieve that one should never stop try­ing. If you never stop try­ing, you can­not fail. Noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble. I do not be­lieve in destiny. You can be what you will your­self to be. You can make your own destiny.

Hav­ing adopted a to­tally new con­cept of herbal care and cures, I had to in­crease aware­ness of the heal­ing pow­ers of herbs and the dan­gers of chem­i­cal and syn­thetic in­gre­di­ents. I did this by con­tribut­ing ar­ti­cles in lead­ing news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Very early in my ca­reer, I also made it a point to re­ply per­son­ally to let­ters seek­ing so­lu­tions for skin and hair prob­lems. Four decades later, I still main­tain this prac­tice, this per­sonal touch. In my reg­u­lar col­umns, I pro­vide home reme­dies as so­lu­tions for beauty prob­lems. In the minds of the read­ers, this re­in­forces my phi­los­o­phy that “na­ture is the best cos­me­tol­o­gist.” My phi­los­o­phy and faith in na­ture have not only in­flu­enced mar­kets and minds, but have be­come an in­te­gral part of the brand im­age. I also had to over­come so­cial and eco­nomic hur­dles. It was a time when women were just step­ping out of their homes into the ca­reer world. It was my fam­ily’s sup­port and un­der­stand­ing that helped me to over­come bar­ri­ers and re­al­ize my dreams.

I en­joy the creativ­ity and in­no­va­tion that my role as an en­tre­pre­neur de­mands. As an en­tre­pre­neur, I have al­ways up­held the im­por­tance of in­no­va­tion. I have drawn upon the ther­a­peu­tic val­ues of plants and used them in in­no­va­tive ways to for­mu­late rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­ucts, not only for gen­eral care, but also for spe­cific skin and hair prob­lems. Such in­no­va­tions have had a dra­matic ef­fect on our con­cept of Ayurvedic beauty care and port­fo­lio of prod­ucts, which have taken the in­ter­na­tional mar­kets by storm. The beauty busi­ness in In­dia is boom­ing. In fact, it is the herbal beauty busi­ness which is driv­ing the growth of the beauty busi­ness in In­dia. Beauty trends, rather than reg­u­la­tions keep chang­ing and cos­metic com­pa­nies have to ad­just to the chang­ing trends. Re­cently, GST had an im­pact in terms of ad­just­ment of tax and prices, but as time passes the complexities are iron­ing out. One of the main chal­lenges faced by the beauty in­dus­try is the lack of trained per­son­nel. We have our own beauty train­ing acad­e­mies, fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, for vo­ca­tional train­ing in beauty. First of all, pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions and train­ing is the or­der of the day. So, it is es­sen­tial to ac­quire pro­fes­sional and vo­ca­tional train­ing in the field. If you can get ad­vanced train­ing and also spe­cial­ize in some as­pect, it can be an ad­van­tage. Be­lieve in your­self and your own abil­i­ties. Keep learn­ing. Have the courage to say “I don’t know this, but I can learn it.” The sky is the limit, but one should have re­lent­less de­ter­mi­na­tion to ex­cel and the abil­ity for sheer hard work.

Have the abil­ity to adapt and ad­just, be­cause one has to adapt to the chang­ing de­mands of the mar­ket and trends. This is a busi­ness where trends keep chang­ing. Start in a small way, but think “big.” You have to think that noth­ing is be­yond you. As men­tioned be­fore, creativ­ity and in­no­va­tions would stand an en­tre­pre­neur in good stead. In­no­va­tions make the busi­ness dy­namic.

Yes, it is im­por­tant to find a healthy work-life bal­ance. I al­ways made it a point to spend qual­ity time with my fam­ily. We would go to­gether for va­ca­tions, both in In­dia and abroad and also spend week­ends at our herb and flower farm near Delhi. Even now, I love go­ing out for cof­fee. I love re­lax­ing in the Barista am­bi­ence, sip­ping iced cof­fee with al­mond muffins. At such times, I can re­lax and sim­ply be my­self. For me, lis­ten­ing to music, the soft melodies of ghaz­als, in sub­dued light­ing, is most re­new­ing. Paint­ing and writ­ing po­etry are also great re­stor­ers of body, mind and soul. They help to put me back in touch with my­self.

How­ever busy I may be, I take time out for my­self and go for a daily walk. I al­ways say that I could never have achieved what I have, without the sup­port and un­der­stand­ing of my fam­ily. First of all, my fa­ther guided me and then my hus­band be­came my real in­spi­ra­tion to take up a ca­reer. I de­cided to open my first herbal clinic in my own home in a small way. I did not in­vest a large cap­i­tal in the busi­ness. It was my fa­ther from whom I bor­rowed Rs 35,000/- and started by first herbal clinic. Be­hind the suc­cess of one herbal clinic to the ex­pan­sion into a world­wide chain lies my re­lent­less de­ter­mi­na­tion and hard work and also my fa­ther’s faith that I would suc­ceed. My fam­ily’s en­cour­age­ment and con­stant sup­port made me what I am to­day. I never rest on my lau­rels. I am al­ways think­ing of the next fron­tier to cross and the next moun­tain to climb. As I have men­tioned ear­lier, my dream is to see In­dian plant power lead the in­ter­na­tional cos­metic in­dus­try within the next decade, in terms of Ayurvedic beauty care. Our fu­ture plans in­clude con­cen­trated in­ter­na­tional brand­ing, strength­en­ing and widen­ing our global chain of fran­chise sa­lons, beauty train­ing in­sti­tutes, re­tail out­lets and spas. We will be ex­tend­ing our Ayurvedic spas, and also con­vert­ing sa­lons into day spas, where treat­ments will be geared to­wards re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion, re­ju­ve­na­tion and stress-re­duc­tion, up­hold­ing the prin­ci­ples of holis­tic care. Prod­uct in­no­va­tion has helped our or­ga­ni­za­tion to re­main a dy­namic one. In fact, beauty care in In­dia is fash­ioned af­ter the Shah­naz Hu­sain prod­ucts and in­no­va­tions. So we will con­tinue to launch new and rev­o­lu­tion­ary prod­ucts. We have re­cently launched a range of body spray Deodor­ants, both for men and women, as well as for the pre­mium and reg­u­lar seg­ments. They are do­ing ex­tremely well.

We are ex­pand­ing our foot­prints across the globe. We will be tak­ing Ayurveda and Brand In­dia to more and more coun­tries. We plan to ex­pand our pres­ence in ma­jor coun­tries. Shah­naz Her­bals also plans to open treat­ment and de-stress cen­tres along with spas in hos­pi­tals where peo­ple go­ing through treat­ment can re­lax and re­ju­ve­nate them­selves. We also plan to set up Beauty schools glob­ally to im­part train­ing on skin and hair prob­lems with the pow­er­ful magic of herbs and plant power.

We will also con­tinue to sup­ply the Che­mo­line prod­ucts for skin and hair care to top Can­cer hos­pi­tals all over the world, that have been es­pe­cially de­signed to help al­le­vi­ate the side ef­fects of chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion. These prod­ucts draw upon the sooth­ing and heal­ing prop­er­ties of or­ganic in­gre­di­ents and are known for their ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects on the skin and hair.

Shah­naz Hu­sain seen with Rt. Hon. Boris John­son,mp,for­eign Sec­re­tary of the U.k.,at the In­dian Jour­nal­ist As­so­ci­a­tion Re­cep­tion & Din­ner for In­dia’s In­de­pen­dence Day at St. James Court Ho­tel, Lon­don

Shah­naz Hu­sain re­ceives Padma Shri Award from for­mer Pres­i­dent Ab­dul Kalam.

Dharna Has­sija

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