The enterprising tales of the men who changed the business dynamics of the highly fragmented yet rewarding salon and spa business.
Unnoticeable start-ups just few years back, with their distinctive leadership styles, are building their enterprises into category leaders. Today we see a new aspect of the beauty business; men have entered the beauty and wellness business both as customers and as entrepreneurs. The beauty and wellness industry is expanding to capitalise the immense underlying potential with unisex salons, spa and wellness centres. The beauty business in India is growing phenomenally with the cosmetics market expanding at 15-20 per cent annually along with the size of salon business pegged at Rs 7,000 crore, according to a report. Changing work culture, brand awareness and lifestyles are helping the industry clock stronger growth every year. We follow the stories of the men who have taken to the salon and spa business and are taking the industry higher on the growth path.
CK Kumaravel, CEO & Co-Founder, Naturals
The business was started with his wife. The couple started their first beauty salon in 2000, but the dream was always to make it big. Over the years, Naturals flourished to become India’s most prominent chain of hair and beauty salons. “Naturals Beauty Salon has grown today to be acknowledged as the industry leader and trend setter for its innovations and unique operation and service formats,” says Kumaravel.
With salons across the sub-continent and rapid expansion plans underway, the dream is to reach 3,000 salons by the year 2020. Presently, they are operating through over 330 outlets, almost all of which are franchised. Naturals mark its presence in 19 states of India including cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Bhopal.
Naturals has three key brands, each with customised designs built to cater to specific segments of customers namely Naturals Unisex Salons, Naturals Lounge and Naturals W. In 2006, Kumaravel started franchising Naturals to encourage entrepreneurs, especially women. “We are looking at individuals with great business acumen and a passion to succeed in the service industry. Besides this, we require around 1,300 to 2,000 sq.ft carpet area to open the salon with an investment of about Rs 30 to 50 lakh,” he said.
Striving to revolutionise the grooming industry in every aspect, Naturals has established an academy to train professionals who want to take up a successful career in the world of beauty. “We have one training academy in Chennai and further plan to cover cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Madurai. Experienced staff undergoes continuous training on advanced skills periodically,” Kumaravel said further.
Jawed Habib Akhter, Promoter, Jawed Habib
One of the few unisex salon chains in the organised segment, Jawed Habib is a leading player in the hair and beauty segment. The promoter, Jawed Habib Akhter, is a celebrity hair stylist who built the brand by drawing on his expertise in the family profession through premium services and by creating a differentiated model.
Jawed Habib believes that hard work is the key to build a brand. “Today brand Jawed Habib is a work of 25 years. I want people to come to a brand where each person is qualified the way we all are. With this vision, we started our first academy in Delhi in the year 1985. Currently, we run around 50 academies in the country,” he said.
The company has scaled up operations based on a franchise model and self operated salons and academies. The wide coverage of its outlets enables the company to exploit the largely untapped and highly unorganised Indian market, strengthening its visibility.
Talking about the role of franchise system in the business growth, he said that the future lies in the franchising system and education. Well-trained faculties not just teach how to cut hair, but they strive to make a hair-dresser passionate about the company and their profession.
Presently, Jawed has 400 salons across 92 cities in India and plans to open 2,500 more salons. They have also come up with a head massage salon called Hair Yoga in Mumbai.
Increasing disposable income, rising demand for branded services will be the main factors driving the company’s future growth. “Our brand is a masses brand. India has around 1.2 billion heads to cut. It means that we need more than 1,000 Jawed Habib to handle such a huge population,” he said.
Sanyog Jain, Co-Founder, Blue Terra Spa
The beauty business sits up to notice when two IIT engineers started a venture in this industry! Sanyog Jain, a mechanical engineer from IIT Roorkee, with Kapil Dhameja, a textile engineer from IIT Delhi, started Blue Terra Spa in the year 2010 in Gurgaon.
With a spa opening scheduled in Mumbai next week, the tally of spas under the Blue Terra Spa brand comes to 10. The existing spas are in Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida. Sanyog Jain says that Blue Spa aims to reach the mark of 14 to 15 outlets by the end of 2014. Blue Terra Spa has been rated as Seventh Best of Spa by website idiva.com and was awarded as the Best Emerging Spa Chain by Franchise India.
“It was a challenge to get into the business initially. But a service industry is a mix of hospitality, wellness and beauty. So hospitality and wellness industries are gender neutral,” Jain said.
Sanyog Jain is fond of meeting and interacting with different people which acted as a trigger for him to enter into this business. “At times, customers sit back after a session and chat with us about their personal or professional life, politics or anything,” he said further.
Blue Terra is grounded in principles of Ayurveda and combined with healing therapies from all over the world. “Customer service is our biggest USP. Even if we have received a negative feedback from customers, we try our best to resolve their problems and win them back. As a result, they end up becoming our regular clients,” Jain said.
Expressing his view on the emerging trend of men personal grooming space, he said that male grooming has exploded as men are now more conscious about how they look. In the recent past, men have taken to the concepts of skin and hair care, relaxation and rejuvenation and the concepts like couple sessions have picked up recently.
Kashiff Khan, CMD, K Group
The idea of the business came from a visit to a spa in Thailand. The business started in Dubai in 2006 providing authentic Thai therapies, and soon Aura Thai Spa became ranked among the top five spas in the world. After opening four spas in Dubai, Kashiff Khan decided to come to India and was able to set up 11 spas in Mumbai in a span of 1 year. Khan plans to set up 300 outlets of Aura Thai Spa by 2015. Contributing to their corporate social responsibility (CSR) objective, the spa is dedicated to create employment opportunities for the locals in the health and wellness sector.
“Aura Thai Spa is a leading provider of the world-renowned spa and wellness services. Currently, we have more than 80 operational spa centres overall. We are also planning to come up with outlets in United Kingdom (UK) and Africa,” said Khan.
Expressing his view on franchising system, Khan said that his business witnessed tremendous growth after adopting the franchising route. “We started looking for people who would like to partner with us and invest in our business idea. We have company-owned store as well as co-franchise. Every unit is a franchise unit, but every franchise unit is co-owned by us,” he said.
Speaking on how the wellness industry has shifted its focus to men from being women-centric, Khan said that the huge difference in growth came only when men started spending on themselves. “There is a huge growth potential in the business space of grooming men. Over the last four-five years, it has been growing exponentially in spas and salons,” he added further.
Khan opined that the spa industry in India is pegged at Rs 4,000 crore which is going to grow at an average speed of 30-50 per cent year- year-on-year.
Santosh Kumar, Managing Director, Paris De Salon
“I have diversified in businesses like textiles and construction. I was also into the glamour industry a decade back. So I wanted to start something out of passion and closer to the beauty industry,” said Santosh Kumar. He plunged into the beauty business with Paris De Salon in 2010. Kumar explained that the beauty industry is moving towards wellness. Earlier not many women were into fitness or gym, but now women are into all these things. At the same time the cliché ‘beauty for women’ is changing with men increasingly becoming an integral part of the industry along with more awareness about the skin and hair.
Paris De Salon has 3 centres overall (2 in Hyderabad and 1 in Pune) and plans to come up with one more outlet in Bangalore. “It has been four years since inception and we are on an expansion spree. We have been the winner of two franchise India awards in 2012 and 2013. We are an ISO certified company and number one in terms of rating with Just dial,” said Kumar.
Paris De Salon boasts the tagline of affordable luxury. Debating on how his brand is different from other brands in the market, Kumar said that the ambience and the products make them unique. We have the exclusivity of Paul Mitchell’s keratin products and LASIO from the US which is again a monopoly for us.
Speaking on what advice he would like to give to other men looking to enter the beauty business, he said that one needs to invest a really good time in marketing their brand and maintain the quality. There is not much of competition at the high scale luxury salon segment.