How This Legendary Queen of Beauty Industry Rejected Existing Salon Treatments and Devised Her Own

This beauty expert is offering free vocational training and career opportunities to the physically challenged
How This Legendary Queen of Beauty Industry Rejected Existing Salon Treatments and Devised Her Own
Image credit: Entrepreneur India

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Former Freelancer
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

While undergoing training in London, she came across instances of damage caused by chemical treatments. In a way, this changed the course of her life and career. Shahnaz Husain, Founder, Chairperson & Managing Director of the Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies wanted to find a natural alternative that was safe and without risks. Her study of Ayurveda convinced her that it could offer the ideal answers to modern cosmetic-care.

Husain returned to India and started her first herbal salon in the verandah of her home in New Delhi, in 1971, in a very small way, after borrowing Rs.35,000 /- from her father. Rest is history.

Read on as the legendary queen of beauty and wellness enunciates her journey…

Once in India Husain established a customized beauty care, with a personalized style, based on individual needs and problems. “I adopted the concept of “herbal care and cure” and began to formulate my own products using plant ingredients and natural substances, based on the Ayurvedic system,” she recounted.

Today, the salon treatments and products have become breakthroughs in natural beauty care. Husain is known, not only for treatments for general beauty care but also for therapeutic products and salon treatments for problems like acne, hyperpigmentation, scars, premature ageing, dandruff, hair damage, hair loss, etc.

The unique franchise model

Once established, Husain extended her salons on a unique franchise system. She started encouraging housewives to start a beauty salon in their homes for financial independence. Husain trained them and gave them the Shahnaz Herbal franchise by which they could carry out my specialized treatments.

“It was the beginning of my franchise system and beauty training academy. The fast-paced extension of the Shahnaz Husain Salons and other ventures is due to our franchise system. Today, we operate in more than 100 countries, with our franchise ventures, exports and direct product distributors. From one herbal salon to a worldwide chain of ventures, it has been a phenomenal journey,” enthused the celebrity.

Spreading awareness

Having adopted a totally new concept of herbal care and cures, Husain had to increase awareness of the healing powers of herbs and the dangers of chemical and synthetic ingredients. She did this by contributing articles in leading newspapers and magazines. Very early in her career, she made it a point to reply personally to letters seeking solutions for skin and hair problems. Four decades later, she still maintains this practice.

“My philosophy and faith in nature have not only influenced markets and minds but have become an integral part of the brand image,” she shared.


The building blocks

Husain had to overcome social and economic hurdles as well.  It was a time when women were just stepping out of their homes into a new world- career. It was her family’s support and understanding that helped her overcome barriers and realize the dreams.

However, entering the international market was the biggest challenge. India was not even represented at that time, but she attended International Beauty Congresses on her own steam, speaking on Ayurveda and trying to popularize Ayurvedic beauty care. She 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, she moved on to Harrods in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, the Seibu chain in Japan, La Rinascente in Milan and El Certe Inglis in Spain.

“I have tried to meet hurdles 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. Nothing is impossible; you can be what you will yourself to be. You can make your own destiny,” proclaimed Husain.

Secret of success lies in seizing opportunities and accepting challenges

Husain is a first generation entrepreneur. She went ahead with determination, iron will, sheer hard work and without a college degree. Her ideas and innovations were her own and she went ahead with confidence to translate them into reality. She believed that one should be willing to try every avenue towards success.

“Translating creativity and innovativeness into reality is what success is all about. You may start in a small way, but you have to think “big.” I never rest on my laurels. I always feel I have another frontier to cross, another mountain to climb. I never give up.  The secret of success lies in seizing opportunities and looking forward to challenges,” divulged Husain.

Dealing with the market competition

The beauty business is booming in India and players in the space are ubiquitous, belonging to both organised and unorganised sectors.

However, Husain feels there is room for numerous players. “India is the second largest consumer market in the world. We have maintained our position with unique product innovations from time to time, as well as innovation of salon treatments. Spa treatments have also been introduced. Over the last four decades, we have already established brand identity and brand loyalty, as well as a countrywide distribution network,” informed the renowned entrepreneur.

Giving back

Shahnaz Husain is making a positive contribution towards empowering the less privileged by supporting vocational beauty training for the physically challenged. She started Shamute, her free beauty training course for the speech and hearing impaired in 1984. Later, in 2008, she started Shasight for the blind. Today, she is offering free vocational training and career opportunities to the physically challenged. Since 1984, Shamute has trained hundreds of students many of them have been employed in the Shahnaz Herbal salons and franchise salons, while others have started their own salons or gained employment in other salons.

She has contributed to skill development by participating in Government projects for skill development in the beauty and wellness industry. Over 40, 000 under-privileged women have been trained and certified till now by the Shahnaz Husain Beauty Training Academy.

Latest on Entrepreneur