Monday, June 21, 2021
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Interview with beauty icon Shahnaz Hussain

shahnazQuestion 1. Please tell us something about the early journey as your success story is an inspirational one and needs to be highlighted. Who inspired you most?
Answer-–While training in London in cosmetology, I came across instances of damage caused by chemical treatments. In a way, this changed the course of my life and career. I wanted to find a natural alternative that was safe and without risks. My study of Ayurveda convinced me that it could offer the ideal answers to modern cosmetic-care. I returned to India and started my first herbal salon in the verandah of my home in New Delhi, in 1971, in a very small way. I adopted the concept of “herbal care and cure.” It was a totally unique, path-breaking concept. I rejected the existing salon treatments and devised my own. I also began to formulate my own products using plant ingredients and natural substances, based on the Ayurvedic system. Today, the salon treatments and products have become breakthroughs in natural beauty care. We have become known, not only for our treatments for general beauty care, but also for our therapeutic products and salon treatments for problems like acne, hyper-pigmentation, scars, premature ageing, dandruff, hair damage, hair loss, etc.
I began to extend my salons on a unique franchise system. I started encouraging ordinary housewives to start a beauty salon in their won homes and thus achieve financial independence. This way they could have a career and yet be close at hand to care for home and family. I trained them and gave them the Shahnaz Herbal franchise by which they could carry out my specialized treatments. It was the beginning of my franchise system and beauty training academy. The fast paced extension of the Shahnaz Husain Salons and other ventures is due to our franchise system. Today, the Shahnaz Husain franchise has become a successful business model, with tremendous international goodwill and demand. Today, we operate in more than 100 countries, with our franchise ventures and direct product distributors. From one herbal salon to a worldwide chain of ventures, it has been a phenomenal journey.
My father inspired me to follow my dreams. When I started my business, he taught me to have faith in my own abilities. He said there is no such thing as destiny. You can make your own destiny; you can be what you will yourself to be. When I opened my first herbal clinic in my own home, it was my father from whom I borrowed Rs.35,000. Behind my success lies my father’s faith that I would succeed. He was a constant source of support.
Question 2. Where do you find yourself now and where do you see yourself five years or ten years down the line?
Answer —-Today, I head an organization that is the largest one of its kind in the world, with a global network of franchise ventures, comprising of franchise salons, spa, retail outlets, beauty training institutes and over 380 Ayurvedic products for beauty and health care. Today, we operate in more than 100 countries, with our franchise ventures and direct product distributors. From one herbal salon to a worldwide chain of ventures, it has been a phenomenal journey. We are expanding our footprints across the globe, so I see Ayurvedic beauty care leading the international cosmetic market within the coming decade. Product innovation has helped our organization to remain a dynamic one. So, I will continue to innovate and launch advanced products in Ayurvedic beauty care.
Question 3. What are your plans for future of your group? Are you satisfied with growth or want to scale more heights?
Answer —-We plan to expand our presence in major countries like USA, U.K., Canada, Middle East, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, South East Asia, New Zealand, Russia and CIS countries Our future plans include concentrated international branding, strengthening and widening our global chain of franchise ventures and appointing distributors in unrepresented new markets. I never rest on my laurels. I always look for new frontiers to cross and new mountains to climb.
Question 5. Any ambitious plan to enter politics?
Answer —-No, I do not have plans to enter politics.
Question 6. What is your message for young generation especially on retaining natural beauty?
Answer —-Internal good health and external beauty are two sides of the same coin. True beauty comes from sheer good health and physical fitness, so along with external care, pay attention to nutrition, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Opt for herbal and natural ingredients for beauty care and stay away from chemical treatments and products.
Question 7. As you are from the world of beautiful things how will you describe beauty?
Answer —-Beauty is a total impact of physical beauty power, brain power and spiritual power. It is the blending together of physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual qualities into one integrated whole.
Question 8. What is beauty and your criteria of judging beauty?
Answer —-In my book, “The Book of Absolute Beauty” I have written, that a beautiful woman is one who has learnt to value herself physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. She has a radiance and vitality that comes from sheer good health and physical fitness. She has energy, vitality, a flawless skin, shiny hair, a slim and supple body, self-confidence and self-assurance. Today, beauty consists of holistic care that includes diet, exercise, relaxation, along with external care.
Question 9. What are your plans to spread your products in various countries?
Answer —-I have already mentioned that we will be extending our franchise ventures by opening more franchise salons, spas and retail outlets in more and more countries.
Question 10. Your tips for all weather beauty?
Answer —-Beauty should be according to individual skin types and the season. Dry skins and winter requires more creams and moisturisers, while oily skins need light moisturising and non-oily products. In summer, astringents, refreshers and toners should be used more.
Question 11. Please tell us some interesting anecdotes of life which gave life time lessons?
Answer —-I decided to work my way to the prized beauty training institutions of the West, to learn cosmetic chemistry and cosmetology. I was not a graduate, having got married straight after school. But, I loved to write, so I started writing articles for the Iran Tribune on various subjects. I was asked to contribute 1000 words per week, but the response was so good, that they asked me to handle all the features in English and soon I was running the entire English magazine – cover to cover. There were only manual typewriters those days and I would be typing furiously to meet the deadlines. I remember that my fingers became sore and started bleeding. I would tie bandages and continue typing, oblivious to the pain. Finally, I had to seek medical treatment and the Russian doctor told me “If you don’t stop typing, I will have to chop off your fingers.” I will never forget the emotional upheaval. I knew I could not stop writing. I needed the money for my education. I looked at my fingers and quietly murmured, “Doctor, how much?” – I thought even if he cut off the minced part – I would still have enough left. I was that desperate to continue, so that I could pay the fees for my studies. I needed to earn the money to pay for my education. He was amazed that my first thought or anguish was not about the fingers I would lose! This incident made me believe that in life it is not what you want that is important, but how badly you want it. It made me believe in myself and my own abilities.
Question 12. Any interesting encounters with celebrities or even with common public
Answer —-On principle I never divulge the names of my clients. I believe that beauty is a personal matter and it is not ethical to discuss the names or cosmetic treatments of our clients, whether they are celebrities or not. However, I can speak of the few who went on record to mention me. I created Shamoist for our late Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. In fact, it has become one of our fast moving products. She regularly used Shabase, our sandalwood protective cream, and told me that it was a great boon during her election tours. One of my most celebrated clients was Princess Diana, for whom I created a special line of coloured herbal kohl. I remember, she had come to Harrods, the famous London store and asked for Shaeyes, our herbal kajal. We were showcasing our products at Harrods at the time. Diana was using a black kohl those days and was fascinated with our herbal kajal. So, I created a special line for her, with herbal kohl in different colours. She will always remain an icon of beauty, grace and elegance. Another favourite client of mine was Dame Barbara Cartland, the famous author. It was her interest in India’s herbal healing system that brought her in close contact with me and she became a dear friend. She was always by my side when we launched our products in London and Paris, or showcased our products in famous international stores. In fact, Barbara flew to Paris, especially for me, to launch our Flower Power range of products at Galeries Lafayette in Paris. She also spoke on the products at the Press Conference. Her presence evoked tremendous media coverage. I created one of our premium products especially for her – the Barbara Cartland Honey Rose Mint Moisture Plus
Goldie Hawn, the famous Hollywood actress also loved our Ayurvedic treatments. In fact, she spent an entire day at our salon in Delhi for the Shahnaz experience.
Question 13. What is your advice to young children so that they develop good habits to retain healthy skin and good personality?
Answer —-Beauty cannot be achieved in a day. It is the result of regular care and a healthy lifestyle. The importance of good health should never be undermined. That is the true foundation of beauty. Experts are sounding the alarm at the sedentary life children lead these days, not to mention their junk food diets. Children are spending more time in inactivity, looking at computer and television screens, or cell phones. Lack of physical activity means poor blood circulation and inadequate oxygenation. This can be the cause of lack of energy, chronic fatigue and lethargy. Exercise, on the other hand, builds up stamina and strength and improves blood circulation to the organs. Every tissue of the body needs oxygen. Children who are physically fit sleep better and are also more capable of handling emotional stress. It’s a wake up call for parents!
Question 14. What is your advice to old women so they don’t feel depressed over losing glare in advanced stage of their life when skin is wrinkled and body is frail?
Answer —-A woman who has been following a healthy diet and lifestyle, finds it easier to cope with changes, as she ages. Actually, regular exercise helps to delay aging changes and has a beneficial effect on both body and mind. Along with exercise, adopt a healthy eating pattern, with an emphasis on fresh fruits, unrefined cereals, salads, sprouts, lightly cooked vegetables, yogurt and skimmed milk, clear soups, fresh fruit juices. Your diet should be low in fats, sugar and starch, but high in vitamins and minerals. This kind of diet will raise your level of fitness and also help your skin and hair. Along with regular skin and hair care, including salon facials, keep an open mind. Cultivate interests and hobbies. Learn something new. These give another dimension to the personality and make you feel more active and youthful.
Question 15–. Your advice to cosmetics industry and government for policy issues in this sector
Answer —-Herbal beauty care is driving the growth of the cosmetic industry. Therefore, Ayurveda needs attention, in terms of growing and research of medicinal herbs and flowers. Export of Ayurvedic formulations can be developed as an organized sector, by integrating it into the entire global vision for Ayurveda. Centres of Vocational training in beauty also need to be developed. Along with this traditional Ayurvedic treatments can be developed further. Cultural and creative industries related to Ayurveda and Yoga provide great potential for income generation and self-employment. Government can help in exploring markets and in preparing products for the global market, especially in terms of improving quality.
Question 16–. You are a moving encyclopedia of cosmetics and herbal products so whatever you want to tell common people, please tell us apart from this questionnaire.
Answer —-Over centuries of usage, it has been seen that natural ingredients have many beneficial properties and actually help to enhance the beauty of the skin and hair. Another important advantage is that they have shown a lack of harmful side-effects. Synthetic preparations and chemical ingredients, on the other hand, can cause allergic and irritative reactions. They can also cause a build-up of toxins in the system, over a period of time. The safety factor cannot be ignored and makes herbs ideal for cosmetic care. Herbs also have powerful healing properties and many benefits for skin and hair care. In fact, they have definite protective, preventive and corrective actions. They also contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other valuable substances, which are imperative for the health of the skin and hair. Herbs help to improve the normal functions of the skin and scalp, including that of cell renewal. Thus they have the power to revitalize and rejuvenate. So, look at nature with enlightened eyes and make your choices,
Question 17–. Your favorite diet / Movie/ film star and actress / picnic spot / books / leisure activity?
Answer —-My Favourite Diet is simple home food, consisting of Dal, Chapati, Salads and Yogurt
Favourite Movie – Gone with the Wind
Favourite Film Star and Actress – Amitabh Bachhan and Kareena Kapoor
Favourite Picnic Spot – Hyde Park in London
Favourite Book – The Power of Now
Favourite Leisure Activity – Writing poetry and painting

(Shahnaz Husain is the India Beauty Icon and Padma Award Winners)

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