The Story of Jawed Habib – Part 1

 Know the success story of one of the biggest hair heroes in India.

He was born in Rashtrapati Bhavan (then Viceroy House of British India) into a family of hairdressers. His grandfather, father, all were considered ‘elite’s among the hairdresser society of India as their clients were Viceroys of British India, the Nehru family etc. However, Jawed was never sure that he would carry forward his family legacy. This firebrand hairstylist, who was singlehandedly responsible for the ‘Indian hairstyling revolution’ and has become a legend today, was keen on pursuing hotel management! Thank god, he finally didn’t! Otherwise, it would have been tough for the young generation to find true inspiration! In this cover story, we are trying to narrate the fascinating journey of Jawed Habib.

From Studying French Literature To Morris School of Hairdressing

On 16th October, 1983, Jawed’s father Habib Ahmed set up his own salon, Habib’s Hair and Beauty, at the Lodhi Hotel in New Delhi. He got his training from the prestigious Morris School of Hairdressing at London and while his two sons Parvez and Amjad were helping him, Jawed was happily collecting cash at the reception! However, Habib Sr. always knew that Jawed could do wonders if appropriately trained. Jawed was studying French Literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University and had no intention of joining the family business!

In his own words, “The path to success is always full of struggle, learning, and undulating. Likewise, it was for me! First of all, mine was not a smooth entry into the profession. My aspirations lied elsewhere. Gradually I got drawn to this profession. I used to watch my father with awe when he used to style the hair for his customers. Their happiness was boundless and my father became a demigod to them.

Life experience can teach you some crucial things which textbooks can’t. Jawed learned the importance of ‘system’s in his stint as a part-time worker for McDonald’s in London. “McDonald’s is where I realized what a difference a well-put-together system could do. People may come and go, but as long as the system keeps running, your business keeps running too. It was there I learnt the importance of punctuality and what difference training can bring about. These were the lessons that I would eventually put into use when I’d start my business.”

Stepping Out Of Habib Sr’s Shadow It is always challenging to be the son of a great personality and curve a niche of your own! Stepping out of his famous father’s shadow was a little bit difficult for Jawed too. “I was a technocrat and had to learn the art of doing business. I was blessed with the dexterity to create the styles and bring happiness to my customers. I developed my techniques of creative styling and making the hair manageable for my customers. Once these were appreciated, I aspired to reach to each and every person of my country.” At that time Jawed did something, which put him on the limelight. On 15th February 1997, he set a record for 410 haircuts in just 24 hours!

This was the turning point in his life. He finally stepped out of his father’s shadow. The media attention was on him then. By 2000, Jawed was also chosen as the brand ambassador for Sunsilk and started appearing on their commercials and became a familiar face in the country. However, apart from all these, he has also started conducting seminars and workshops in small towns. “Whenever I would conduct a workshop, I would follow it up with a press conference where I’d talk about the science of hairdressing, why it’s important etc. “Despite being a popular face, Jawed never stopped cutting hair nor did he stopped conducting workshops. These were the two things that have always kept him rooted and in touch with his market.

My father thought it wasn’t possible to set up a system in this unorganized sector; I thought the contrary. So I began reaching out to people outside of his world. Every town I went to, I learnt that the needs of the people there were very different from those in the big cities.

From Jawed Habib, the hairstylist to Jawed Habib, the brand After seven long years, finally in 2004, Jawed started running on his own. “I had a humble beginning with quite a handful of salons. I used to motivate myself to aspire for more. My business partners used to show tremendous trust in me. I could see the young styling professionals emulating me. My customers from all over the country started showing faith in my style

I established salons with the objective to provide affordable hair styling service to all. I made my business partners to work and grow along with me. They bring their business skills along with and coupled with my technical skills, we are walking hand in hand today recommendations. That was when I thought to relate my business to a brand to have a uniform approach all across the nation. I aspired to grow organically and without disturbing the work that was being done then.

I felt a need for having a strong brand to which the people could easily and quickly relate to. Hence, Jawed Habib, the brand, got created.” Not only salons, his aspiration of delivering knowledge also paved the way of Jawed Habib Academy. “I decided to establish my academy and create a force of professional stylists who would spread my creative styling all over the place.” As a true entrepreneur, Jawed always wanted the overall growth of his team. “I encouraged young stylists to educate themselves and become professionals. They proved to be wonderful pupils and gave me so many moments to feel proud of them. Gradually, my customers also started showing faith in our profession. In addition to happiness, I could see the respect in their eyes. This respect was not only for me, but was also for my team.”

To be continued…

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