Vin­cent Ho talks busi­ness, fam­ily and the Mercedes-AMG GT R, writes phoebe cheong

Prestige (Malaysia) - - Contents -

The manag­ing di­rec­tor of the Ki­marie Group on busi­ness, fam­ily and the Mercedes


For Vin­cent Ho, manag­ing di­rec­tor of the Ki­marie Group, any­thing to do with sa­lons comes as sec­ond na­ture. Grow­ing up in a sa­lon en­vi­ron­ment af­ter his mother founded Ki­marie in 1982, he even learned hair­dress­ing when he was 18, prac­tis­ing the trade for a year and a half.

“I was a lit­tle bit of a gypsy,” he shares. “Be­ing born in Ipoh and then mov­ing to KL, and then study­ing in Sin­ga­pore be­fore go­ing to the United States, I was al­ways go­ing from place to place, not know­ing what I wanted to do. But then I came back and de­cided to give this a try.”

He goes on to ex­plain that the busi­ness went through a pe­riod of con­trac­tion around the time his mother was set to re­tire. Find­ing him­self a chal­lenge, it was when he de­cided to take over, swiftly dis­cov­er­ing that he had a pas­sion for en­trepreneur­ship and busi­ness.

“When I came back, Ki­marie was as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a lit­tle old-fash­ioned,” Vin­cent says. “The chal­lenge then was to re­vamp it in such a way to at­tract new cus­tomers with­out alien­at­ing our ex­ist­ing cus­tomers. So we changed every­thing from the logo to the per­son­nel, to the im­age of the com­pany, and even ren­o­vated the façades and in­te­ri­ors of the shops.”

Fif­teen years on, the Ki­marie Group now has eight sa­lons and two acad­e­mies un­der its wing. When asked how Ki­marie stays ahead of the game, Vin­cent cred­its their ser­vice qual­ity, tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise and value propo­si­tion. “We stand out be­cause we’re able to con­stantly rein­vent our­selves,” he de­clares. “It’s not enough to only meet cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions; you have to go be­yond it in this day and age.”

Prid­ing them­selves on con­stant in­no­va­tion, the next step for Ki­marie, as Vin­cent tells me, is for them to evolve into a life­style sa­lon. He re­veals that one such sa­lon is com­ing up very soon, with it al­ready be­ing in the plan­ning phase. He also ex­presses his vi­sion for the Ki­marie acad­e­mies – his goal is for Ki­marie to be­come the hair­dress­ing hub of South­east Asia.

It hasn’t been easy in for­ti­fy­ing Ki­marie’s pres­ence, but Vin­cent chooses to quote Aris­to­tle when it comes to work: plea­sure in the job puts per­fec­tion in the work.

“You have to have pas­sion in what you do. I to­tally be­lieve in that. If you don’t love it, how are you go­ing to be good at it?” he states. “You’ll be very medi­ocre at some­thing that you don’t love. You have to wake up want­ing to do the job, so that it no longer be­comes a job. As long as you have the pas­sion and en­joy it, then suc­cess will come nat­u­rally.”

Get­ting this far comes with its fair share of set­backs, but Vin­cent be­lieves in keep­ing his cool. Though it’s easy to get lost in the face of ad­ver­si­ties and to fo­cus on the prob­lem in­stead of look­ing for a solution, he prefers to re­move him­self from the prob­lem and look at it through the lenses of mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives.

“That’s how I’m able to come up with so­lu­tions, as op­posed to some­thing hap­pen­ing and go­ing, ‘oh, what am I go­ing to do?’ You’ll never get any­thing done. Just take a very calm ap­proach and try to look at it from a few steps back,” he ad­vises.

One par­tic­u­lar road­block in the in­dus­try that he is to ad­dress is the lack of stan­dards be­ing im­ple­mented when it comes to hair­dress­ing. “There’s no con­trol or stan­dard, so any­body can be a hair­dresser. You don’t even need to pass any test. So what hap­pens is that the qual­ity isn’t there and our pro­fes­sion as a whole will be judged (neg­a­tively),” Vin­cent says.

He adds that the way to over­come this is to raise the over­all stan­dard when it comes to hair­dress­ing. He tells me how the Ki­marie Group is in­volved with the gov­ern­ment to help de­velop the Na­tional Oc­cu­pa­tional Skills Stan­dard. “Un­for­tu­nately, its im­ple­men­ta­tion hasn’t been made manda­tory yet,” Vin­cent re­marks. “I’m look­ing for­ward to the day that it will be (made manda­tory), be­cause when that hap­pens, I be­lieve that our pro­fes­sion will be re­spected a lot more than it is to­day.”

Through­out his ca­reer, Vin­cent has learned a great deal, es­pe­cially on be­ing as hon­est, fair and loyal as pos­si­ble. How­ever, he’s also learned to ex­pect dis­ap­point­ment and be­trayal. “It’s im­por­tant to not re­cip­ro­cate,” he em­pha­sises. “It’s all part and par­cel of life, and the les­son learned is to not take it per­son­ally, don’t dwell on it and to just move on. Don’t let them com­pro­mise your val­ues.”

While Vin­cent ad­mits that he tends to im­merse him­self in work, it’s not all about busi­ness. He finds it im­por­tant to make time for the peo­ple he cares about and be ap­pre­cia­tive of them. And when asked what his most pride-worthy ac­com­plish­ment is, he an­swers in the most heart-warm­ing man­ner pos­si­ble, “My son.”

“Be­fore I be­came a fa­ther, I never un­der­stood that (no­tion). But as strange as it sounds, I un­der­stand (that) now,” he says with a laugh. “I’m proud of him, and hav­ing him (around) just made me a prouder man.”

He is very much a fam­ily man, cred­it­ing his fam­ily as his big­gest source of in­spi­ra­tion. “Every­thing I do is for them,” he shares with a smile. “They in­spire me to be what I am.”

Vin­cent is a man of many pas­sions, some of them be­ing ex­treme sports, mu­sic and travel. But take a scroll through Vin­cent’s so­cial me­dia ac­counts, and one of his big­gest pas­sions stands out with­out a ques­tion: cars.

“Beau­ti­ful cars are like works of art to me,” he says. “I find the whole no­tion of car rac­ing very ro­man­tic and mas­cu­line; the whole idea of men try­ing to tame and dom­i­nate these su­per-vi­o­lent ma­chines.”

When I ask what qual­ity he looks for in his dream car, Vin­cent replies thought­fully, “It has to be a re­ally well-sculpted car – a piece of art that is func­tional and beau­ti­ful, with tech­nol­ogy so ad­vanced that it’s al­most in­dis­tin­guish­able from magic. Acous­ti­cally, it sounds like the devil singing to a sym­phony of fighter jets.”

The Mercedes-AMG GT R, he ex­plains, is the clos­est to meet­ing this cri­te­rion. The car is also be­ing known as “the Beast of the Green Hell”.

“I’d say that it’s prob­a­bly the fastest and most ca­pa­ble car in the Mercedes line-up. It’s re­ally ag­gres­sive and beau­ti­ful. The ex­haust (sys­tem) is very good. It’s re­spon­sive and it’s got this low, bassy grunt,” Vin­cent en­thuses. “It’s like power at your fin­ger­tips. You step on it and it doesn’t stop – it just goes on for­ever.”



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