As a gawky schoolgirl with strong tomboy tendencies, I always sported a staid mushroom cut with intermittent phases of closely cropped boy-cuts, much to the chagrin of my 'girlier' companions. I finally 'grew out of it' and flaunted longer locks as a conscious collegian.
Now, blessed with thick, long, black hair, the salon has been my most frequented haunt, second only to the neighbourhood café. I owe it to the hairstylists for my timely transformation from the awkward to the presentable. And so do several others, be it actress Karisma Kapoor, whose infamous unruly curls are today a shimmering sheet of blonde highlights or the average housewife whose straightened, coloured tresses are the envy of her colony neighbours.
So when we were given a choice to pick out a hot career, I immediately picked the beauty sector and hairstylist Asif Rajan as its rising star. Having known Asif for a few years now, I have been privy to his rise to fame, from his days as just another hairstylist at Makeover salon to the opening of two of his own salons.
Interacting with him on a more personal note, I was amazed by the intimate revelations of his family's bankruptcy, his academic angst, his struggles as a shoe salesman among other menial jobs and finally his resounding success as a skilled hairstylist. His story is emphatically evidence of the booming beauty industry.
Being a frequent visitor to his Bandra salon, I am familiar with all the hairstylists far beyond a first-name basis. They know about my work, my social life and what I'm doing that night. Most of them are in their early 20s, dressed as if they stepped out of an issue of Vogue, and so casually conversational that I find myself chatting with them long after my monthly trim is done -- with impeccable finesse of course. Precisely why these 20-somethings are earning in enviable figures, the seniors, around 23-28 years old, draw in almost Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 plus a meaty commission.
The salon reflects their yuppie attitude - purple walls, a neon signboard, an espresso machine, a large LCD screen with a P-2 player handy and house music thumping to the groove of the stylists as they cast their mop magic. It's less of a workplace, more of a hangout, buzzing with the effervescent energy of youth.
My other rising star was Meera Singh Rathore, a 24-year-old 'senior' stylist at Juice, the hottest hub of hair in the city. Although earning more than I would after five years as a print journalist, she hardly appeared a jaded workaholic like most people our age who drag themselves to a dreary office. Feisty, fun and endearingly catty, she is living the good life, earning an income of Rs 80,000 a month in a job that allows her to flaunt flaming red hair and chic clothes that express her individuality. I'm not even going to start talking about her international trips.
After profiling these hip hairdressers, I seriously considered a career change - perhaps a bit too late in the day, for 18 is seen as a good time to begin. So if you're young, creative and stylish and want to earn big bucks in a job that lets you be who you are, in a workplace that plays cool music and has people you would want as friend, I personally recommend hairstyling. Throw in free cuts, colours and blow-dries as perks and you've landed yourself a dream job.