Jawed Habib is one of India’s ace hairstylists. Growing his company from a family owned business to a modern brand, run professionally with more than 102 salons all over the country. Now, with the acquisition of a set of academies from Malaysian brand Clara International, he has set out to increase brand bandwidth to include beauty along with hair.
What can we expect from the Jawed Habib-Clara International association?
People used to say that Jawed Habib is only about hair but does not have strength in beauty. So I was looking for a flagship brand which could add that dimension to our chain. We did a lot of research and found that the master franchisee of Clara International, which is a beauty institute, was up for sale. I bought it last year and that’s how Clara has became Jawed Habib’s brand. How does Clara signal strength to the Jawed Habib empire? I am treating both of them as individual companies and want them to spread across the globe. I want Jawed Habib and Clara to compete with each other — this competition will make them both expand.
You have also bought the Malaysian brand Clipso?
Yes, last year I bought the 8,000 square foot academy for hair and make-up education in Kuala Lumpur. I plan to expand all over the world under this brand name. In the Muslim countries the Jawed Habib brand name will work, in Eastern Europe and other countries it will be Clipso.
How many academies do you have at this time?
As of now, we have 31 Jawed Habib and 18 Clara academies in nine countries. We would like to expand across 24 countries — we are targeting Eastern Europe at this time because it’s a raw market. We also have 102 salons under our brand. I believe the Jawed Habib brand can grow globally and rule over the hair industry.
Will the graduates from Clara get jobs at Habib salons?
Yes, ofcourse. Anyone pursuing a six month diploma course gets a job straight away but those who opt for a one to three month course will get assistance. Both Clara and Habib provide trained professionals to the market. There is a huge demand for trained people everywhere.
What about the expansion in metro cities or smaller towns?
Our salons are expanding all over India, especially in smaller towns. It is much easier and faster to launch there in comparison to metros.
Isn’t pricing a constraining factor in smaller towns?
The Jawed Habib brand has been portrayed as an expensive brand by the media so we thought of an image change and targeting smaller towns by introducing a new brand called Jawed Habib Hair Express, which will offer a dry haircut in just Rs 99. (See box on right) You have just launched a new academy in Dadar. Yes, this is a 1,550 square foot academy, which offers exactly the same courses as we run across India. We are planning to launch two other academies in Mumbai as well. We have two openings every week. Recently we have also opened a new salon at the MGF Metropolitan Mall in New Delhi and plan to continue our growth at this pace.
What are the key factors to manage the growth?
I’m a one man brand. I have tried hiring a management team but find that it is easier for me to manage it myself because I am both a technical and a professional person. You need one commander to run a company.
Do your salons and academies have a similar look?
Yes, we always use the combinations of colors which are very light in nature. I don’t understand why people think to give a gaudy look to a salon. The overall look should be very simple, with a minimum of colors.
On a personal note, was the hair business your first choice?
Initially, I wanted to go in for hotel management. When my father got me enrolled for hairstyling in London I began to see the glamour in this ind- ustry which attracted me. We had two salons at that time. When I came back I started doing a lot of seminars and then began working for >> << one focused mission, which is the scissor.
Isn’t it competitive, all being in the family?
My father, brothers and me are like the fingers of one hand. I started my own brand six-seven years back. When I joined my dad we had salons only in Delhi. Now we have salons in 49 cities. We’re targeting 365 salons and 100 academies by end 2009.
How difficult is it to teach the process of hairstyling?
Hair is tough. It’s very artistic and at the same time we are also technical people working with scissors. People say hair is an art; I think it’s a science. We’re not just teaching people about hair, but really we are teaching passion.
Are there plans to expand the line of Jawed Habib products?
We are expanding the line of our products for which I am importing all the ingredients from Europe. We want to be a one-stop-shop where everything is available from our brand inlcuding brushes, scissors and other tools. These are all lined up to be launched later in the year.
How has success changed you?
It hasn’t changed me at all. I’m still the same as I was 20 years back. I don’t think I’m succesful but am simply focused and enjoy my work.
Is there enough time in the day to do everything?
Yes, more than enough! It is all about the passion which one brings to your job. What is your favorite part of working on hair? Definitely cuts! When I touch hair I find that each hair tells a different story. The way we create haircuts is how we create our business.
What do you find your clients want most?
Times have changed! You cannot compare the situation now to what it was 40 years ago. Today, people have money, and they feel their looks are very important. They are looking for a package of a good cut, chemical treatments and hair maintenance. One of the key things that has changed the outlook is TV. With the options of watching more than 100 channels, people are exposed to very many new influences each day.
What is your vision for yourself?
My vision is very simple — in the next five years I want Jawed Habib to be a big global brand. There is no reason an Indian brand cannot do this. It is simply a matter of understanding the language of hair. We have 35,000 clients a month and speak this language very well. We have shown that growth is possible in India, and it can happen globally too.