Kehkashan Merchant Vagh, Director of Flaunt Salon and Spa recently launched her new salon in Bangalore. She talks about her childhood passion and what it takes to be a prominent player in the industry.
Running in the family
My mother, Lulua Merchant, owned a salon where I practically grew up. Before I did my
homework, I would braid or curl my hair. I owe my passion for hair to my mother, who
convinced me that the term ‘hajam’ (barber) is outdated and it was now time for young, enthusiastic and educated individuals, to change the face of the hair styling industry.
Academics and training
Academically, I hold a degree from Emerson College, Boston in Marketing and Strategy. In hair styling, I trained extensively at the L’Oreal Academy in Mumbai. However, I needed more technical know-how so I joined Toni and Guy in Australia and followed it up by a rigorous few months training at Vidal Sassoon, London. I didn’t look back after this. I’m privileged to be a part of the prestigious Intercoiffure Mondial and for work-related events, I have travelled to Australia, London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong, to name a few to help broaden my horizon.
There is a fine balance between giving a client what they want and what they need. When one is an independent stylist, it is hard to gain the client’s confidence. It is about doing your best and convincing them that transforming them into the best version of themselves, is your ultimate goal. Being consistent and finding that balance and rapport earns you the stripes.
I think being genuine is underrated, clients know when you genuinely care and when you are hard selling. End of the day, my honesty is what keeps them coming back each time. They trust me to make the best decisions and choices for them. Of course, a pleasant personality and friendly demeanour go a long way. Most of my clients are close friends now!
Success is being content, when people get greedy and dilute their time and energy, work and play, both suffer. Take on what you can handle and give it your all. Doing a few things perfectly is more satisfying than doing several mediocre things.
Celebrity hairstylist vs general hairstylist
Who defines a celebrity hairstylist? That’s just a hairstylist who styles celebrities! When
they are not working on celebrities, they are working on regular people. I think we all do
the same work. Our job is to make every client feel like a celebrity. It doesn’t matter if their end destination is a red carpet or a family gathering.
Undoubtedly my mother, Lulua Merchant, her effortless glamour motivates me every day. She was a pioneer in skin and hair 30 years ago! She taught me the importance of my work because it can change the way a woman feels about herself. And most importantly, that I could do anything I put my mind to.
Trends this season
Bobs have made a comeback with every variant, from short chic ones to lobs and in
every texture. In hairstyles the bun is great. Messy, neat, dramatic! In colour, the icy
platinum, caramels and strawberry blondes are making quite a statement!
Views on the industry
Global exposure shows you what the rest of the world is up to. Being honest, they are pretty high up and India is fairly nascent in beauty and especially in hair. But it is such a vast and promising market that it is only a matter of time before we surpass the rest of the world. Industry leaders just have to ensure quality and training to make us a force to be reckoned with globally.
Advice for newcomers
YouTube offers a world of information, but nothing can replace a sound technical know-how. Train yourself with the best resources, equip yourself with knowledge and be creative beyond your imagination. Read and keep up-to-date with trends as it will spark your creativity. Most importantly, never stop experimenting and learning.
I am content and focused on Bangalore and Mysore, but who knows what tomorrow might bring.