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Hair to Stay

If you love giving people a makeover, the career of a hairdresser could be just right for you. Once a profession that was looked down upon, hairstyling is now part of the glamour biz.

education Updated: Nov 04, 2009 14:31 IST
Syed Amir Ali Hashmi

If you love giving people a makeover, the career of a hairdresser could be just right for you — and if you are really good at it, you might literally rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

Meet Zakir Khan, who earns a handsome salary working as a hairstylist with Hakim Aalim, a famous Bollywood hairstylist. “I am happy in the profession. It has given me a chance to work with famous people, and gives direction to my creative skills,” says Khan, who has run his scissors through the locks of such celebs as Irrfan Khan and Ishant Sharma.

But Khan rues that though the times have changed, there are still some people who snobbishly think of a hairstylist as a barber. “I guess, that’s why I am finding it difficult to get a bride.”

Aalim, who has styled the tresses of superstars like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan and Sachin Tendulkar, started playing with hair at the age of 16. His father, also a hairstylist, encouraged him to take up the trade. “With absolutely no formal training, I gave my first haircut when I was in Class X,” recalls Aalim. “I borrowed a pair of scissors from my dad to cut a friend’s hair. I gave him a really short, trendy cut. I didn’t like the way it turned out, but he loved it, and so did his family and friends.

“My first haircut was all about fun, experimentation and fashion… I guess some things never change!”

Over the past five years, Aalim has established himself as the first choice of many actors.

“The first star whose hair I styled was Vivek Oberoi. We are college friends and used to act in plays together. I now do his hair all the time,” says Aalim.

He feels that 21st century parents should give their children “complete creative freedom”.

Hairstyling as a profession is not looked down upon anymore, and there is good money in it, he points out. “In fact, you can earn more money in it than most other professions.
Parents should understand that one can grow in life with name, fame and money.” However, Aalim advises against doing this work only for the fame and the money. “It’s all about hard work and passion. If you want to be famous you need to be creative,” he says.

Most ‘branded’ hairstylists recruit trained people. “One should start by joining a professional academy and then get attached to a noted hairstylist for a year or so. After that, one needs to decide whether to stay or go solo,” says Aalim.

Generally, a hairstyling course includes lessons in shampooing and scalp treatment, roller-setting, braiding, curling, finger-waving and sectioning of hair, haircutting techniques using clippers, razors, shears etc, colouring, perming, waving and straightening.

A trained hairstylist can work for TV channels, ad agencies, and in theatre and films.

Fashion houses and photography agencies also require their services. Some of the major parlours are Habib’s, Elle Passion Academy, Big Boss, etc.

Recounting memorable moments, Aalim says, “Tendulkar gave me his personal bat, and Amitabh Bachchan sent me a letter of appreciation. These are the things that matter and motivate you in life.”

So, if you think you have the knack of transforming people, head for an academy and prepare to turn heads.

The job involves advising people on the current hair trends and what may look good on them.

It requires creativity and ability to visualise which hairstyle may suit a person on a particular occasion. A top stylist has sound knowledge of modern hair management techniques and makes sure the clients get the best results where their looks are concerned without their hair being damaged in the process

Clock Work
9 am: Reach the salon and start attending to clients
11 am: If there are multiple salons, one needs to be in touch with them
Noon: Client meetings
1.30 pm: Lunch
2.30 pm: Get on with work
7 pm: Leave for home
8 pm: Sit down with the latest magazines and watch fashion channels to see what
the international hair trends are
10 am: Dinner

The Payoff
. One can start with a ‘branded’ hairstylist and earn Rs 16,000-Rs 17,000. After about three years in the industry, the salary at a good salon can be Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000.

Exams conducted by salons for promoting a hairstylist can cost a lot, in the region of Rs 70,000-Rs 80,000. But then the sky is the limit if you have your own salon and have made a mark in the field

Pleasing personality
. Good communication skills
. Creative bent of mind
. Observant
. Ability to learn quickly
. Interest in fashion and an ability to keep oneself informed of the latest trends in the
world of fashion

How do i get there?
No specific qualification is required to become a hairstylist. However, it is good if one has finished college or at least school. There are institutes that allow students who have passed Class X to take up a course in hairstyling. The first step is to join a good institute that can equip one in the art and science of hairstyling. Do a background check of the institute first

Institutes & urls
Habib’s Hair Academy, New Delhi
. Big Boss Beauty Parlour, Borivali (West), Mumbai
. Eves Beauty Parlor and Academy One Ninety Four, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi
. Elle Passion Salon, Spa and Academy, Faridabad
. South Delhi Polytechnic for Women, New Delhi
. Men’s World International Institute, New Delhi

Pros & Cons
A famous hairstylist gets to work with celebrities
. Given salon rates these days, it is very good money for work that doesn’t take much
time and energy
. One needs to be on one’s feet for long hours, so it can be tiring
. Customers can be unreasonable, but they cannot be told off

Your hair is your crown, and we make it perfect

One of the most famous hairstylists in India lets out his trade secrets

Who is a hairstylist?
A hairstylist is one who can make a bald person believe that he has beautiful hair. For me, a client’s hair is like a crown. One can wear the best jewellery, the best clothes, but if one’s hairstyle is not fashionable, one tends to lose out on the style quotient. A hairstylist gives that complete look by taking care of the crown.

How did you become interested in hairstyling?
I am the third generation in my family to take up hairstyling as a career. Initially, I was not interested but after great persuasion from my family, I decided to give in.

Somewhere down the line, I thought that I could be a part of the glamour world. Then I went to London, where I realised that it was a glamorous profession already.

What makes a good hairstylist?
You have to be passionate and dedicated. Whatever you learn at school... even basic science helps, and the rest is creativity.

One should have good management skills besides knowing the art of hairstyling. It is not what it used to be earlier — today it is a business.

When I came into the industry 20 years ago, things were different. But with education, people’s attitude and the way hairstylists work, everything has changed. Today, hairstylists do not have to face social stigma, they only need to be creative.

What does it take to be as famous as Jawed Habib?
It took me almost 20 years to reach where I am. I have 140 centres around the world and to reach there I’ve had to sacrifice a lot. I would say, if you are genuinely committed to the profession, you can be famous. And be ready to sacrifice your personal life.

Jawed Habib Interviewed by Syed Amir Ali Hashmi