Gaining customers’ trust is the most important thing to do to earn your brand a strong identity.
Customers trust a brand that never compromises on the quality of the products they use and the services they provide. For a brand to move ahead, this is a vital step for them to take in order to build a solid brand name and a loyal client base. In a conversation with Ambika Pillai, Founder, ambikapillai, for our Indian Salon and Wellness Yearbook 2017, she tells us about her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges she faced and what makes her brand stand apart in the Indian beauty industry.
Kindly share a brief about your brand, ambikapillai.
ambikapillai started small, some 22 years ago, with just 8 staff members, whom I trained myself to become highly skilled artists in hair, makeup and beauty. It wasn't with any strategic growth plans that I opened my salon. Way back in the mid 90's, the salon was christened 'visions by Ambika'. As word of mouth spread ambikapillai started evolving into a very strong brand name. In fact in a year’s time, with just 20 clients visiting the salon it gradually grew tenfold to catering to 200 clients a day and during the wedding season 400 clients a day. With the number of clients growing my staff numbers climbed to incredible numbers too. Once ambikapillai as a brand started gaining public and media attention, I decided to change the name of the salon from 'visions by Ambika' to 'ambikapillai' and a brand was born.
Share some of the steps to success your brand has taken.
ambikapillai still runs with the deep-rooted beliefs, rules and regulations. We believe in giving only the best to our clients and never compromise on products used and services rendered. We are grateful that clients choose our salon to walk into when they always have a wide choice to choose from and we always treat them with respect. In-house training takes place throughout the year at the salon, to keep our staff updated and we make sure they always have their fingers on the pulse of international trends. ambikapillai has a boss that still works on the floor. Clients have very easy access to her to complain or praise them, so they are always on their best behaviour. I have worked with all the leading designers from India like Rohit Bal, Manish Arora, Sabyasachi, Suneet Varma, JJ Valaya, Tarun Tahiliani etc and I regularly style film stars for various shows and shoots. Some of the most prominent ones being Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor amongst others.
How has been your entrepreneurial journey?
I am from a small town in Kerala and Delhi for me was the big bad world one had to be careful about. I chose to make it my home and the stepping stone for my professional journey. My chain of salons grew and they spread their wings in all directions. I spend more time in Kerala, so I made a conscious decision to keep only two salons in Delhi and open more down south and the Middle East. So as of now, our salons are located at South Extension and Chhatarpur in Delhi and in Kochi and Trivandrum in Kerala. I have done fashion shows in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Dubai, Mauritius, Switzerland etc and continue doing India Fashion Weeks.
What is the USP of your brand?
In a place like Delhi with immense competition all around, the brand stands out because I have got my fingers in every aspect of my job. A hairdresser, a makeup artist, one that does ads, shoots, fashion shows, musical plays, news station styling, airline crew styling, salon work, brides all over the world. I have won every award there is to win in this field and that gives people the confidence to trust in the brand ambikapillai that has a very strong foundation.
What challenges have you overcome to bring your brand to the top?
I opened my first salon with a partner and worked as a shadow behind the very talented Sylvie. Once that partnership fell through, I opened yet another salon with yet another friend who was a billion times worse. This was the time in my life other great things happened that determined my path and took me to heights that were actually the beginning of my brand building exercise and making my brand a household name in Delhi. If I am asked to pinpoint one incident then that would be winning my first national award for an ad film where I did the then ruling miss world Aishwarya Rai s face.
Let us know about some of the Wow moments for you and your brand.
The Wow moment for me and the brand has been winning awards like the Femina Power List Award 2015, Kerala Business Woman of the Year Award 2014, Vogue Best Makeup Artist award 2011, Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female Awards 2009, Nirman Super Achievers Award 2007 and many others.