Challenges & Successes with Celebrity Stylist Kanta Motwani
All set to face challenges with confidence and embrace the new normal in the salon business, Kanta Motwani is the inspiration you need during these unusual times.
As a hairstylist and an entrepreneur, Kanta Motwani is a renowned name in the Indian salon industry. Be it celebrity styling or on the salon floor, her passion for the art and dedication to the profession is a cut above and reflected perfectly through her happy clients and incredible work.
Speaking to Esha Gakhar over an Instagram LIVE session, Kanta Motwani, Curator, Kromakay Salons shares her insights into the current challenges and her plans to overcome it.
My journey as a hairdresser has been fun, exciting and quite exhilarating; it has helped me grow in every aspect of life. The curiosity to understand customers, as a young hairdresser, has actually shaped my path. It has given me a great career at my own pace which is quite relaxed. It made me a jack of all trades and master of some important factors that have led to my success.
My journey as an entrepreneur has just begun; it is getting there. I believe that I will be an entrepreneur, once I cover everything. But so far so good.
I feel that problems, when they are unresolved, look complicated. When you label them as challenges, they bully you and make it difficult for you to think clearly. For example, currently, we are all a little confused as to what is happening. But for me, this is very normal; I have seen a lot of ups and downs throughout my journey. If you break challenges into smaller parts, you can rationalize them. Then, it doesn’t look so big and can be tackled easily. During the first month of COVID lockdown, we were all thinking that it would last for a few days. But now it has become a larger challenge and we are learning to survive it. So I believe that if you just narrow down your problems then it becomes easy. Also, if you have a super supportive team, then it becomes easier to get through these times.
Celebrity Styling vs Regular Clients
It is not different at all! When a guest is sitting in your chair, whether it is a celebrity or a regular customer, you ought to give your best. That is what keeps me going and also the reason why our salon is usually packed with customers — celebrity or not. They see the uniform standards we follow. Our customer base greatly varies and everyone gets the same experience. Post-service, the satisfaction on a celebrity’s face and on a regular client’s is the same.
This current crisis is a mix of everything — staff’s confidence, self-confidence and clients’ confidence. My team’s confidence is really high now; since the last couple of weeks, they are all ready to come back to the salons and do their work. Seeing their confidence, my confidence doubles. Now, the challenge is to win back the confidence of our clients.
The how-to-win-it-back part is already taken care of. It is all about the clients’ comfort level when they see a confident person doing their hair and that everything is well taken care of at the salon they always visit. That security and trust are what we as a brand will always give importance to.
We need to be conscious of what we do during the pandemic and not always look at it as an ongoing problem, so as to not feel overwhelmed — we just need to deal with it. So, we are going back to the model of my first salon in 2001 — it was compact and I had a smaller team then. Similarly, now we are now making smaller separate teams which is comfortable not only for customers but also for my staff. One step at a time; we are going to start slow while taking all precautions.
I am a gadget queen, so we already have various kinds of gadgets for sanitation and hygiene purposes at the salons. At the same time, this is a time when we need to keep in mind that less is more. So, we have decided to go slow and steady. In terms of interiors, I am thinking of a clever way to use the space we have. We will also make sure to take prior appointments and specific slots — starting with a minimum number of appointments at a time. The salon will be opened one week after permissions are granted so that I can check if everything is safe and ready for reopening. For me, the new normal is that everyone in this community follows the same rules, from a single door barber to celebrity hairdressers.
Training & Education
All the brands that we are associated with have been wonderful during the period; the moment it was announced that the lockdown would be extended, they were all ready with their respective online training modules. At that time, I was quite busy with other concerns, like figuring how to take things ahead. So these training sessions by the brands kept my team busy and engaged.
We also had various groups to communicate with the whole team — it was not only about education, it was fun as well. We discussed everything from how we all are doing to what they would like to learn. Also, I believe that when you are in such a profession where you have to think about others as well, it gets exhausting some days. So I am also doing yoga and meditation these days.
At the beginning of this lockdown, lots of celebrities called and asked me to cut their hair. Some of them were even seen cutting their own hair. We also shared tutorials on how to cut your fringes or give yourself a complete haircut. So, I think that the initial few months will be about something that is easy to maintain. Fringes and cuts could be in trend as it has been so dull and boring lately. Even colour-wise, I think there will be a lot of warm tones and anything that will make people feel good. During this lockdown, everyone has had so much time for self-reflection and they are all going to tell us what they would like to have and we will facilitate it all.
For future hairdressers as well as for the current hairdressers, my advice would be to focus on your skills. It is a constant change and as it is rightly said, change is the only constant. Also, stay aware of all the latest trends. There will be new Corona trends too, I guess. And stay in a good company, I am not saying this in reference to morals but a good company that can help in enhancing your skills and overall personality. And stay groomed.
One mantra that I am following, and is easy for anyone to follow, is ‘Sanitize, Sterilize and Disinfect’. That has to be your magic mantra to kickstart work. What is equally important is mental hygiene and self-care. It has been tough especially for the salon industry but we will get through this. Also, invest in education, for yourself and your team. Teach them the importance of maintaining both physical and mental hygiene. Follow all the safety instructions, maintain social distance and soon, we will all be able to hug each other again. That is my wish and that is my prayer.