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Winnie Loo: Triumphant Trials

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Armed with steely grit and determination to overcome personal and professional setbacks that sprung up regularly in her career, Winnie Loo, an acclaimed hairstylist, shared with Salon India the attitude a winner needs to have in order to strike gold

The beginning
When she was a young girl, even then she had displayed a flair for the creative and artistic. However, on the behest of her parents, Loo enrolled for the London Chamber of Commerce diploma in business studies at Stamford College in Kuala Lumpur. Greatly inspired by her father, Loo Yew Poh, who came to Malaysia with a pocketful of dreams to later become a respected businessman, Loo says her father had instilled a sense of self-worth and belief in her.

Interest in hair
Reveals Loo, “From childhood I’ve always been in love with creative and fashionable things around. I always had a keen interest to create something different which can be a fashion statement. Then in 70’s, I saw an opportunity in Malaysian newspaper which inspired people to become a hairdresser in eight and a half months. This was a great opportunity that came across and I went ahead with the course. This was my first step towards becoming a hairdresser and from there on I started progressing each day.”

Technical education
In order to pursue her interest, Loo studied hairdressing and graduated with a diploma in comprehensive hair dressing from the London’s Morris, , Alan International, which is affiliated to the British Federation of Hair Dressing Council. She then went to Singapore where she worked for an average sized hair salon inside a hotel
owned by a woman with six hairstylists. However, soon after she decided to head back to Malaysia to work for a hair salon in Kuala Lumpur.

Big break
To make herself more robust in the line, Loo enrolled in a professional modelling course at Act One Modelling and started to dabble in fashion tailoring. Her first break came when a customer made a business proposition to open a hair salon in partnership. With an investment of about US$12,500 open the salon in Wisma HLA, an upscale area in Kuala Lumpur. She was only 23 years old then. Loo’s real break came when she bought out her partner and with the support of Richard Teo, her then boyfriend, she managed to fork out the money and hold things together despite the hardships and tough times.

Accolades galore
Loo had to work hard in order to shine and has been applauded many times for her entrepreneurship and for raising the benchmark of local hairstyling, and has quite a collection of awards to her name. In 2010, presented Loo with the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award and Women In Leadership Forum Asia bestowed upon her the Most Innovative Woman Entrepreneur award. She was also bestowed with the Most Innovative Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award presented at the
Women in Leadership Forum in Kuala Lumpur on 28 March. Shares Loo, “There is no short cut to success. It’s hard work and you must be hands on and be there to make sure things work.”

Future plans
‘Restyle’ is our next agenda. Also we will be expanding our chain of salon ‘A Cut Above’ across the world. Also I am looking at more brand associations like my recent association with Lakme Salon for their new hair collection- ‘Cuts and Colours’. 2014 has planned a lot of travelling for me. I will be travelling from Shanghai to London, New York and then Hawaii. I am writing another book which is on personal branding and will be released in mid-2015. Also in 2015, I plan to collaborate with a lot of other brands for associations, similar to the collaboration that I have done with for the launch of ‘Cuts and Colours’.”