How this small-town girl followed the OYO model and became an entrepreneur with a chain of 160+ branded budget salons

Sadiya Naseem, the Founder of Glam Studios, wants to organise the unstructured salon space in India by creating a tech-driven chain of budget options through aggregation, standardisation, and brand associations.

Sadiya Naseem was born and raised in Etah, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. Growing up, she says, she had a limited budget for grooming herself.

This pain point led her to start Glam Studios, which claims to be India’s first chain of branded budget salons and offers premium beauty services at affordable rates.

A recent entrant into the startup ecosystem, Glam Studios aims to revolutionise the way the beauty industry works in India by creating a tech-driven chain of budget salons through aggregation, standardisation, and brand associations.

Sadiya completed her graduation in communications and followed it with a post-graduate diploma in journalism and mass communication from Aligarh Muslim University. She went on to have an illustrious career path across industries.

She started her internet journey in 2007 with, after which she spent six years at MGH as its leadership member and managed to list the company as one of the best startups in its domain with innovative products and excellent customer acquisition rate.

In December 2014, she assisted to grow its supply by introducing new processes, cost-effective methods, and increasing its presence in the B2B market.

But the beauty space was her true calling.

“The fact there are more than 1.5 lakh salons in India, of which only 2,500 are branded and yet account for almost 25 percent of total revenue, acted as the catalyst for somehow organising this space by standardising the existing inventory,” Sadiya says.

She joined hands with Darakhshan Husain, a fashion management graduate from NIFT, and Feeroz, an IIT-Delhi alumnus to conceptualise GlamStudios, which she calls India’s first brand of tech-backed, affordable salons.

“Having started operations in January 2016, Glam Studios currently has 160-plus salons across Delhi/NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kochi, etc., which has also made it India’s fastest growing salon chain,” she says.

Benefits for franchisees

Glam Studios works on the concept of upgrading existing salons and giving them the chance to rebrand themselves with a minimal franchisee fee. The franchisees benefit through increased business, higher visibility, and the 360-degree support that the brand offers to its partners.

“The franchise fee is only 10 percent of the average salon franchisee fee charged by salon brands operating in the mass-premium segment. We are the first that came up with centralised call centre consultation and online bookings. The whole salon industry is now lowering their rates and adding these services to their offerings,” she says.

Organising an unorganised sector 

“We are creating standardisation by incorporating technology and training at every level, and also by creating uniformity in products and services across categories, making the customer offering predictable, reliable, and pleasant,” Sadiya says.

The company is also set to launch a mobile application that will offer the customer the convenience of booking their salon services, service provider, and time slots, and include interactive features that will help him or her decide on the hairstyle or colour that will suit them, or the makeup that will go with a certain look.

Glam Studios has raised funds of around Rs 4.8 crore. “Since we have been profitable and self sustaining for the past 18 months now, we are not seeking any external funding as of now,” the founder says.

She adds that the startup is open to offers after this financial year to “support further expansion and achieve our target of having 10,000 salons in the next couple of years”.

Roller-coaster of highs and lows

Sadiya feels that being an entrepreneur is difficult in India, but says that this is gender-agnostic.

Challenges don’t know whether you are a man or a woman; they just test your intelligence, fortitude, and perseverance. Whoever shows these capabilities in good measure can be a successful entrepreneur, irrespective of what gender they belong to,” she says.

Her journey, she says has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows, and that’s what keeps her “thrilled and happy”.

Challenges are a part of the day’s work for an entrepreneur, and we welcome each and every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.”

She has some ambitious plans for Glam Studios, and wants to grow it into India’s largest salon chain soon by tying up with more than 10,000 salons.

“We are also thinking of international expansion and development of training academies very soon,” Sadiya says.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)