Geetanjali: Tweaking To Success
In an exclusive chat, Geetanjali’s formidable Sumit Israni shares his story.
Kindly share your major milestones as you grew in your carrier.
My journey started when my dad Mr Prem Israni started a small salon in Green Park back in 1989 and that’s when I realised that hairdressing is my passion and I want to make a career out of it. I began at the age of 16 and since then I have never looked back. I learned from prominent institutes in Europe and UK works with experts like Vidal Sassoon, Guy Kremer, Laurent Decreton, and many more. After years of pure hairdressing, I started focusing on organisational expansion as well and making Geetanjali one of the largest and most loved high street salon chains in India. Today, we stand at 120 plus doors across India with 3 unique business models Geetanjali Salon, Geetanjali Studios, and now Tweak. Geetanjali has been awarded as best salon chain at Indian hairdressing Award 2018, L’Oréal Professionnel Indian Hairdressing Awards (IHA) 2018, Best Salon for Interior Design at IHA 2018, and many more.
The Tweak is my dream and long-awaited project though it took years to conceptualise the concept and bringing out in the market with a hand-picked team of creative hair artists. There is a long way to go and a lot more to offer in near future. I am still a pure hairdresser at heart but due to the fast expansion of the organisation with launching new verticals in such difficult times, I have to balance my passion for hairdressing staying true to my art, being an entrepreneur and managing director for such a large and well-expanded salon chain.
How do you stay motivated and inspired?
I think there is so much more to offer to the market as an entrepreneur, artist, teacher, and leader. There is always something or the other thing which keeps me going and my I find inspiration from my surrounding, people I work with and travelling to different places. I can’t keep things stagnant and for me, growth and exploring different opportunities to create something new and different is crucial to stay motivated and moving ahead. I don’t restrict myself and I set myself to channelise my energy to curate new concepts and business models.
Do share valuable life lessons, with us.
I think choosing hairdressing itself, as my career, in the 90s’ and going unconventional with career choices especially when you aren’t born with the silver spoon. I started from scratch with limited opportunities & resources & have built an empire today — I think it has taken a lot of consistent hard work, passion, courage, and zeal to keep going.
What are your thoughts on the professional education standards in the country? What is Geetanjali’s contribution as a brand to educating their employees?
Education standards for hair and beauty have improved gradually over the years but I feel there is a long way to go. Despite people normalising hairdressing as a career choice I see a lot of preconceived notions about the industry and choosing hairdressing as a full-fledged career. A lot of this has to do with the lack of organised education system for the hair and beauty industry. However, in Geetanjali, we make sure to facilitate our staff with regular and advanced training for hair colouring, hair styling, and cosmetology. I have never compromised on the training and education part, as I strongly feel that evolving and learning is crucial for an individual’s and brand’s growth. Specifically, during the lockdown, we had arranged different sets of online sessions for hairdressers, beauty therapists, managers, and make-up artists. I feel it was crucial to keep all the employees connected, updated, and motivated during tough times.
With the COVID lockdowns allowing all of us to reflect more than ever, are there any lessons you’re taking away from this unexpected time? In what ways do you find happiness?
Work makes me happy and it keeps me going but during COVID lockdown I took a lot of time to reflect on everything and taking some time out for my health and my family. On the professional front, as an entrepreneur and as a hairdresser, I have realised that having a 360-degree Omni-channel business model is the future of this sector as well. We can’t depend on the traditional brick and motor business model having a strong online presence, retail, social media engagement is equally important.
Retail and home care range are doing better than pre-COVID times. As per the analysis and learning during COVID, we see a huge scope of growth in the salon industry and adopting new ways to reach the end consumers, holistic marketing techniques, and development of new segments and business models to meet the demand of changing consumerism. During the last lockdown, we launched an e-commerce platform for Geetanjali to meet the need for the delivery of professional home care range smoothly. Another one is Tweak, which is conceptualised to cater to the niche audience who are tired of going to conventional salons.
As a brand, you have 3 categories of salons – Geetanjali Salon, Studio, and Tweak. How does each format give you results? Which model is most successful?
Geetanjali Salons, Studios and Tweak are very different models serving to differentiated needs of the market. Tweak is the most premium one out of three and it caters to niche consumers who values artist and art. Specifically designers, stylists and people from the creative industry who are looking to get a makeover and don’t mind experimenting with their look. It’s in its initial phase and will take time to build its distinct identity. So far the response had been good and for Tweak, it’s the ticket price that works than the volume of footfall. We want to keep it exclusive while expanding.
Geetanjali Salons caters to the middle and upper-class market with varied demands, moreover in the tier 1 cities, malls, and high street establishments. Geetanjali Studios cater to the segment of the market that wishes to evolve in grooming and rise from basic to advanced services. With all the three brands, Geetanjali caters to different markets, they all serve world-class products, technology with extreme satisfaction and value for money.
Is there anything new on the horizon?
Expansion to tier 2 cities, building Tweak as a lifestyle brand, and much more to come which will be disclosed later.