She is a name to reckon with when it comes to herbal beauty care. But when Shahnaz Hussain is not immersed in her world of ayurveda, she does a whole lot of other things, for instance, snipping her Louis Vuitton bags to make pockets on her coat or designing six-foot-tall wooden dolls!
As you walk into Hussain's luxurious south Delhi home, a big Christmas tree complete with all the decorations welcomes you at the door. But instead of the usual green, this Christmas tree is in white - she had it specially ordered from London. <b1>
There's just one term to explain Hussain's home, "interesting". The drawing room, for example, is done up in pristine white and is filled with crystals, various sized flower vases, decorative items, soft toys, clocks, photographs and artefacts.
"The drawing room should be in subtle colour so that it's soothing to the visitors. Bright colours add too much weight on the mood of the guests. And these decorative pieces have been picked up on various trips to different countries at different times," Hussain, donning a flaming red overcoat, thick gold anklets and red high heeled shoes, told IANS.
Initially done up by an interior decorator, Hussain said she later changed the entire set-up in accordance with her taste.
"A house becomes a home when you set it up with love, yourself. My daughter Nilofer insisted that the interior decorator set up the house but later I decided to change the set-up.
"The decorator came later to take a few photographs of the house and was surprised to see that the place was nothing like what he had done to it!" she laughed.
Sitting cosily in her favourite part of the drawing room, where the telephone and the calling bell are within her reach, Hussain said when not neck deep in work, she does all kinds of things that keep her creative juices flowing.
"I love Louis Vuitton (LV) stuff. The dark brown and gold colour combination is very subtle and classy. One fine day I cut one of my LV bags in the shape of pockets and put them on my overcoat.
"People kept asking me where I got this LV overcoat from but I simply cut the long story short and said that you don't get this in India!" Hussain said, showing two of her coats, one black and the other brown, with the LV pockets.
Designing is another passion of Hussain's.
"I designed a wooden doll, that of a man carrying a briefcase and wearing a hat, and got a carpenter to carve it out. Some people liked it so much that they actually asked me to get some more made.
"So I made various shaped wooden dolls, from a small one-foot tall one to a six-foot one!" she said.
Sparkling up plain cushions by pasting mirrors on them, using wrapping paper to make coffee table tops and barely one-metre-long cloth to make stool cushions...in her own words, Hussain has to keep doing something that is both "creative as well as effective".
Talking about her range of beauty products, Hussain said that she is soon launching a range of products "for the masses".
"The general perception is that Shahnaz Hussain's products are very expensive and can't be afforded by everyone. That's why now I will be launching "Shahnaz Naturally Beautiful Products", a range of products that can be easily afforded by the masses.
"After all it's time I gave back India something for all that I have received," she smiled.
Her dark kohl-lined eyes complementing her glowing skin and henna-dyed hair, Hussain follows a strict diet regime.
"I have a glass of papaya juice, a bowl of almonds and raisins and two spoons of cornflakes for breakfast. Along with it I take immunity and Vitamin C capsules as well. At around mid-day, I have a glass of lukewarm water with lemon and honey.
"For lunch I have a roti made sans any ghee and vegetables cooked in olive oil. Dinner is usually cornflakes again. I have my tea without sugar," she said charting out her diet.
"I am very uninterested in food," she added.
Although her shop in London's Harley Street is a big success, Hussain feels that promoting ayurveda is no mean task.
"People abroad think that ayurveda is linked to some kind of Indian mysticism or folklore and doctors eye it with suspicion. Like in London when I ask my clients to sleep for eight hours to remove dark circles or say that spinach and curd will cure a skin ailment, they look at me doubtfully.
"But after they try it out and realise that it actually works, and that too without spending anything because I don't charge anything, they come back," she said.
She, however, feels that it's time more Indians came forth to spread the goodness and awareness of ayurveda across the globe.
"I have been holding the flag high for the last 35 years and now I think more Indians should come forward to take up the cause. I don't believe in destiny. I believe that you make your own destiny," Hussain said.