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Shahnaz Husain on her entrepreneurial journey in a candid conversation with YourStory.in

21st Oct 2010
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Shahnaz Hussain

Shahnaz Husain`s journey as an entrepreneur is a great inspiration for all the young entrepreneurs and startup ventures. Shahnaz Husain is one of the rare and few first generation women entrepreneur, pioneer, visionary and an innovator, who introduced a totally new concept of Ayurvedic Care and Cure worldwide. She created a brand with universal appeal and application. Shahnaz Husain`s brand found place in the international market for Ayurvedic beauty care. In a world ridden with environmental degradation, Shahnaz Husain ventured into the world of nature and its healing powers, taking the Indian herbal heritage of Ayurveda to every corner of the globe with a crusader’s zeal.When Shahnaz Husain was in Chennai recently for an assignment, she was candid in her utterance when questions were thrown to her. The pioneer of Ayurvedic beauty care has achieved unprecedented international acclaim for her practical application of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of herbal healing. Just when there was a worldwide “back to nature” trend, Shahnaz Husain recaptured an ancient herbal system and made it relevant to modern demands.

Ms Husain explained how a person can get younger day-by-day by maintaining his or her health in a phased and fine-tuned manner. It was indeed not surprising seeing the ever agile Shahnaz who adopted the principle of Ayurveda, based on an integrated system of clinical treatments and product ranges, almost four decades ago. In fact, her career has been a constant search for a better alternative. After all, she firmly believed that there is a room for improvement.

The suave and soft-spoken, Shahnaz’s study of Ayurveda, the Indian holistic system of herbal healing, strengthened her faith in nature after finding that it could offer the ideal  answers to protective, preventive and even corrective cosmetic-care. What started as a young women entrepreneur`s dream is today one of the biggest brand in the cosmetic care space, the Shahnaz Husain Group. Shahnaz Husain is the CEO and the Brand Ambassador of the group. Today, the group has a chain of over 400 franchise clinics, shops, schools and spas worldwide, as well as ayurvedic formulations for skin, hair, body and health care covering almost 138 coutries. Her journey, from one herbal clinic to a worldwide chain, is one of unprecedented success. What started as a small business at home at a time when internet was unheard of, went on to become one of the greatest brands across the globe in the ayurvedic care segment.

Shahnaz Hussain

The Group has also gone global with some of its other ventures like the Shahnaz Husain Forever Beautiful lifestyle shops, Beauty Training Institutes, Ayurvedic entres and Shahnaz Husain Ayurvedic Spas, all based on her franchise system. The bubblingly enthusiastic lady recently extended her base in the UK, by opening two more franchise salons in London, in Finchley and Middlesex, as well as a Shahnaz Ayurveda Aesthetic Clinic on Harley Street. The Group’s international presence is gaining further momentum. TESCO, the largest retailer of UK will sell Shahnaz Husain herbal products across all its stores. According to Shahnaz Husain, “Our alliance with TESCO will help to reach a larger section of society in the UK. We are expanding our footprints across the globe. We will take Ayurveda and Brand India to more countries within a year,” she asserts confidently.The company is expanding rapidly and is entering Saudi Arabia, Israel, Myanmar and Bangladesh, targeting revenue of Dollar 10 million from these countries during this year. The Group also plans to tap the niche segment in the US, where there is an increasing interest in alternative therapies. The Group also participated in COSMEXPO – 2009 at Cairo, Egypt in March, 2009, where Shahnaz Husain was Chief Guest and Cosmoprof in Italy, the biggest worldwide event in the beauty sector.

Born into a conservative family, the mild-mannered Shahnaz says, “I had to comply with existing traditions and was married at a tender age of 15 and become a mother by the time I was 16. I trained for ten years to keep abreast with the developments in cosmetic therapy and cosmetic chemistry, at leading institutions of the West, like Helena Rubinstein, Swarzkopf, Christine Valmy, Lancome and Lean of Copenhagen.” Adopting the principle of “Care and Cure," she set up her own herbal clinic, at her residence, with very little capital investment, formulating products for skin, hair and body care, based on the ayurvedic system and developing clinical treatments for specific problems. Her formulations and treatments have become breakthroughs in natural beauty care.

Shahnaz’s success, as she avers, in the international arena, in the face of great odds, is itself phenomenal. Financial constraints and closed doors did not deter her from achieving her cherished goal with flying colours.

Did fighting a lone battle in competing with the biggest brand names in the international markets, where billions of dollars are spent on advertising and packaging affected her confidence, morale and enthusiasm?

“I always have complete faith in my own abilities and with invincible belief in Ayurveda, I allowed my products to speak for themselves”, she replied with a smile on her face, adding “I sold a 5000-year old civilization in a jar.”

Some of Shahnaz`s greatest entrepreneurial achievement include Padma Shri Award - First entrepreneur person from the beauty sphere to receive the coveted Award. Ms Husain’s other international awards include the Arch of Europe International Gold Star in Madrid, Spain, the Quality Excellence Award in Geneva, Cannes and London, Golden America Award in New York, the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award in London, Woman of the Millennium Award in USA, Woman of the Year Award from the Governor of California, USA and the WQC International Star Award in Paris in November 2007 and Leonardo da Vinci Diamond Award by International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, U.K.

Ms Husain’s innovations and spirit of enterprise are well matched. Never losing sight of the basic nature principle and Ayurveda, her contribution to her field is unprecedented. Through her career, regular columns and books, she has created an awareness of the dangers of chemical treatments that has influenced minds and market demands. Her career is a portrayal of how she has translated her ideas into reality, living life by her values and unique philosophy. Her profound knowledge of natural care, her rare energy and vitality, as well as her faith in her own abilities, make it a story of a woman who dared to dream and succeeded beyond success. Indeed, Shahnaz Husain has become a legend in her own lifetime, while her organization, Shahnaz Herbals, is a magnificent expression of her dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Is it not the time for other entrepreneurs to emulate her in their chosen profession?  “There is nothing which cannot be learnt or done,” concludes Shahnaz in her own inimitable style, as she signs of for the day”

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