Creating A Brand With Focus & Strong Fundamentals #EthicalSalons – Part1 By Nalini Naegamvala
Our salon, what that brand spelt
A brand is an extension of what a business owner is, the owner has a drea, a vision about the type of business she wishes to have and follows her instincts. Our salon N n Y represented Nalini n Yasmin as persons whose dream was to provide Great hairdressing matched with impeccable service, as far as possible. For whatever it was worth, our simple, homely warm salon seemed to have made our clients happy and gradually the Name Nalini n Yasmin gained popularity and was synonymous reliability and good work.
As the popularity grew and people started asking for our salon Nalini n Yasmin, that is when we realised, we were a brand in the making!
Founding The first Salon
Yasmin & I were air hostesses with Air India and became friends, we did the hairdressing course in London, around the same time and uncanny as it may seem bought apartments in the same Air India building in Mumbai. Since we had just got married, we had little savings. We decided to start cutting hair in an extra room that Yasmin had in her house. Before we knew it, we had a small clientele and realised it was time to move the salon out of the apartment. I used up whatever savings I had and then borrowed from a well to do Uncle who became our saviour!! We took a small loan, too, from the bank.
Running on Dedication & Instincts – A brand that Happened
We had no MBA degree but learnt to run our salon pretty well through trial and error!-
I think running the salon was a learning process, small errors were there, nothing major really, our instincts guided us all along.
We both had one goal and that was to have happy and satisfied clients and that paved the way to us becoming a brand. Little did we know that our sincerity and love for the salon would make us a brand.
Our brand also had other attributes. We took care of the little things as much as the major things involved in created a wholesome experience. We saw to it that that the client got good service right from polite warm welcome at the reception, to a smiling hairdresser, on to a clean and a safe salon etc.etc. Clients saw our staff were trained well, were constantly learning new techniques and services were rendered with finesse and professionalism. All this built our reputation as a brand.
Education as a Prime Focus
As our husbands worked with Air India Yasmin and I often visited London and trained in the best of schools to update ourselves. In turn, we came back and taught our staff so that they were updated and were aware of the latest trends. As time went on, we invited prominent stylists from abroad to work with us, thus learning further and having the opportunity to work with great international stylists.
I remember we invited, Simon Rattan and Gora from London, Nergish from Hongkong. These were top Indian Stylists who came and worked with us, whereby we upgraded our staff.
Wella and L’Oréal sent top hairstylists from abroad to do training with us often so our salon staff had continuous learning and upskilling happening.
Yasmin and I went at least once in a year or so, to do advanced courses , thus updating and keeping the standard high.
Simplicity & Modest Pricing
We ran our salons in a simpler way but with care, today salons are more professional so one had to gradually learn certain aspects from the younger salons. Our accounts, stock management was done systematically and appointments were taken professionally with careful thought given to the timing of each service and special attention was paid to the pricing of services. Pricing also was reasonable, generally, the price points of services were very low all across competition and even though our work was done by educated staff who needed to be paid well, we still had to be careful with pricing, Hence we figured that a mid-priced salon would probably be best for us. Even now good service with reasonable prices works best in our country. There were very few professionally run salons in those days, so we had to decide pricing which was higher than the smaller salon but reasonable enough. Overall, I feel a decision has to be made by the owner as to the type of brand that they want to build and the effort that needs to be put in.
The Brands You Carry Will Not Make You A Brand
As time went on we put in systems as one had to move with the times, and get as professional as possible hence accounts, stocks and other attendance etc. were streamlines. Computers came at a much later stage making life simpler for salons. Today the number of products used for a Head of hair is really exhausting, we were pretty ok with shampoo, conditioner and a few styling products! However, salons also get carried away as the product companies need to get on with their sales thus confusing us with such a variety of products!! My daughter Natasha ticks me off when I tell her one hairspray, styling gel is as good as the other generally, and ultimately is a matter of choice of the salon.
There were no brands in hairdressing in India in those days, we just became one. I think we represented quality work.
Get The Basics Right
Getting back to the kind of salon one wishes to become, is to be thought about carefully. If you are just an investor in a salon and don’t have the professional qualifications personally, there are hurdles from staff turnover as successful stylists change jobs frequently and that can be taxing on the owner. However, if you are well qualified then you have the advantage of not being left stranded and work doesn’t come to a halt!
I would suggest that the owner train her staff on an ongoing basis to maintain the standard of the salon. Select your reception staff carefully, remember they are the first point of contact and the person at the desk has to have a pleasing welcoming personality together with honesty. The person should be friendly, people-oriented and have an interest in increasing sales. Staff with attitude weren’t ever our choice as clients need to be comfortable and treated with politeness. I recall an incident and remember a client who was an air hostess with Air India who said that she came early and sat around watching the buzz in our salon of busy happy staff looking after the customer well. What pleasure that gave me was unbelievable. I knew then that we were on the right track.
I am also happy Natasha has the same attitude and goes that extra mile, so God willing we will be able to carry on with Nalini of Nalini n Yasmin in time to come We have had challenges in 2020, hopefully in time the industry will get back in form. But then challenges make us stronger and we find ways to make the business better and also diversify.
I ultimately realised that when the basics were in the right place, money and customers will be there. importance should be given to the well being of the customer first and then the balance sheet!! Trust me money follows when u go that extra mile!!!