SHIVAÊS SUCCESS STORY
Dr Shivarama K. Bhandary, owner of Shiva’s salon has successfully become the most popular celebrity stylist for politicians and Bollywood celebrities alike. Divya Ramnani in a candid conversation with the man himself, gets him to talk about his struggle,
How did your incredible journey begin?
I came to Bombay in 1979, where I started my journey by working at Ajanta hair-cutting salon at Bhandup for fifty rough days and then at many more salons at various parts of the city. In 1984, I got an opportunity to visit Doha, Qatar and there, I learned the hair trends of various countries and cultures like Brazil, Africa, Korea etc. And while I was back from Qatar, it was the time when the Saddam Hussein invasion happened in Kuwait, and my mother was reluctant to let me go back so I told her, fine, but I won’t stay in the village any more. So I moved to Mumbai and set up my first salon in Thane in October 1988. The place was mine but back then, I couldn’t afford the chairs and mirrors so I bought some second-hand furniture and a few well-wishers helped me set up my salon. I used to work long shifts from early morning to late night. Then I started my second
salon in Mulund in 1993. It was a small shop but the number of chains increased with time. In 2000, I came to Andheri, Lokhandwala and I got a lot of exposure there. My most memorable moment was when I got an opportunity to do a haircut for Balasaheb Thackeray Ji.
How did the idea of evolving your own business come into being?
“My most memorable moment was when I got an opportunity to do a haircut for Balasaheb ThackerayJi. ”
Mahesh anna (of MT Educare) bought me from Mulund to Lokhandwala. He was like, “You have limited scope and progress in Mulund, and when you go to Lokhandwala, your work will be recognized”. He forcefully took me along with him in his car and showed me the place in Lokhandwala and that was the beginning of my new journey. I got so many good clients like Madhur Bhandarkar ji, Abbas-Mastan ji, Vishal Bhardwaj ji, even David Dhawan ji used to come to my salon.
Tell us about your Academy initiative…
I started my Academy in 2010, it started on a good note. We taught styling to around four thousand kids of the minority communities under the MANAS (Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills) programme conducted by the Central Government for which I received an award from the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ji. Presently, people from all the communities come here and learn styling techniques. We teach every thing from beauty, pedicure, manicure to hair cutting… it’s a four month course. It’s free of cost and it feels very good when we get blessings from those kids.
What sets apart Shiva’s salons from other celebrity salons, that we see on the rise today?
“I treat my staff like my family, I am incomplete without them. They all are very loyal to me.”
I can proudly say that I started from zero, and in this industry, it’s very difficult to reach such a height and I have struggled to reach
where I am today that too without any partner or financer. I am a self-made man and I feel so good about that. I don’t want to give my franchise to anyone. My target is to make it up to hundred salons in the coming years.
You started from one outlet and now you own around sixteen outlets, how do you feel about that?
“I can proudly say that I started from zero, and in this industry, it’s very difficult to reach such a height and I have struggled to reach where I am today.”
It’s not only because of me, I have got the blessings of so many people. And when my customers request me to touch their heads, it gives validation to my work. People feel that when I style their hair myself, it is lucky. And whatever I do, I do it from my heart, and it comes back to me.
Whom do you credit for your success?
A lot of people have contributed to my success but the one person who stood like a rock by me was my mother, the credit
goes to her for all the support and love. And wherever I go today, I make sure to take my mother along with me, she is my lucky charm.
Despite being so successful, you say you are still learning. Tell us about that.
“One person who stood like a rock by me was my mother.”
Learning comes with no age and status restrictions. I still learn. I visit various countries every year to learn and adapt new styles and trends and when I come back, I implement them. I make sure I educate all my staff about what I have learned so that they also learn to be innovative. I have also sent my staff to various countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Paris, Thailand, USA so that they too learn new styles. I had been to Vidal Sassoon (United Kingdom) in 1998 for an advanced course, they taught me a lot. In fact they are the best,
and one can learn so much from them. I will make sure I visit all the countries and learn much more in the future.
How is your equation with your employees?
“My clients trust me blindly with their hair.”
I have employees who have been with me for 28 years and there are so many of them, we are attached to each other in terms, of good bonding. I treat my staff like my family, I am incomplete without them. They all are very loyal to me.
How would you describe your own style? What is Shiva’s style mantra?
My mantra is to give better than what people expect from me.
“Every achievement only teaches me to work harder and I strive and get motivated to do even better in the future.”
Nowadays, the younger generation aspires for different kinds of styles and looks, so my job is to ensure that they get all the current flavours and new trendy styles.
What is the feedback you have received so far?
My clients trust me blindly with their hair. I even ask them why they close their eyes and go to sleep when I am cutting their hair, what if I go wrong somewhere? To which they say, “When you comb my hair, it is so soothing, I really don’t feel it”. This is the feedback that keep me going.
You have very good relations with the Thackeray family, any comments?
“Mumbai being the hub of style, glamour and fashion, there’s a lot of potential here.”
Yes, it has been a very good journey with them. The whole family is very nice and sweet, they are like our family now. I had once, done a haircut for Balasaheb Thackeray ji, which he liked very much and even complimented me.
Who are the celebs you have worked with?
I have worked under Madhur Bhandarkar Sir’s banner. He has worked with me in films like Fashion, Heroine, Calendar Girls and Indu Sarkar.
Your salons are unisex, who do you think are more open towards experimenting - men or women?
Women have a variety of styles to choose from - from long hair to short,
there are numerous options for them. And men, nowadays even they are willing to experiment with their hair which is a great thing.
Mr Amitabh Bachchan has complimented you as well, tell us about that…
I had once done a cartoon cut for someone during the Kaun Banega Crorepati show, fortunately Mr Bachchan saw it and he loved it. I was overwhelmed with the compliments that he gave me.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
If I am at work, I am totally into work and when I am with my family, it’s only them (laughs).
What direction do you see the legacy of Shiva salon heading in the future?
I dream of having a three-storey building dedicated to only Shiva’s. And I hope there will be branches of Shiva’s salons scattered throughout Mumbai, branches will increase but the essence will remain the same forever. My journey started from Thane, but I wish to have my salons everywhere. And Mumbai being the hub of style, glamour and fashion, there’s a lot of potential here.
Competition in your field is increasing day by day, isn’t that a sign of concern?
I don’t want to know or see what others are doing. What matters to me is the quality of my work. There’s no competition. If I am doing good, I will get good results. And I have full trust in my clients, if they love my work, they will make sure that they visit me again.
You have been awarded a doctorate degree from institutes in Europe and USA, how do you feel to have your work honored and recognized globally?
It feels great. And every achievement only teaches me to work harder and I strive and get motivated to do even better in the future.
You make sure that you visit all your salons regularly. Why?
It’s because I love my work and it feels good. I won’t mind going if someone calls me early morning or even late night. I enjoy every aspect of my work, it’s more like a passion than work.
Lastly, any fashion tips for our STARDUST readers?
Always keep your scalp clean so that there’s enough blood circulation, and protect it from dandruff. Comb your hair well to prevent hair fall.
“I dream of having a three-storey building dedicated to only Shiva’s.”
An achiever- The sky is the limit
Playing with his kids Rohit and Aaradhya
...Shiva’s Signature salon at Walkeshwar
Shiva’s lucky charm