Celebrated hair designer Jawed Habib speaks on making a foray into the South Indian market, and his plans for Coimbatore

If Jawed Habib is tired after a long flight to Coimbatore from Delhi, it doesn’t show as he zips through the city to inaugurate three salons. They will be Coimbatore’s introduction to the master stylist’s brand of hair dressing.

It took time for the Delhi-based hair designer to make inroads into Tamil Nadu. But, now that he is here, he is looking at a rapid expansion to keep pace with the growing demand. In the next three months, the city will have a Jawed Habib academy. It will train hundreds of people in the fine art of hair dressing and styling. Most importantly, it will give the market a huge talent pool to dip into.

It is this energy that has seen Jawed open a whopping 440 salons across 21 States and five countries. “I don’t sell my brand using my celebrity clients. My job is to provide good hair care and offer lifestyle solutions,” he says.

Before he set foot in South India, Jawed analysed the hair tradition here, especially the habit of daily oiling. “I admit you need the oil to moisturise hair, because there’s salt in the air, but please wash it off,” he says. He swears by daily shampooing. “That’s the best way to keep your hair clean. For those who say it will damage hair, all I say is: ‘Don’t you brush your teeth every day?’”

Hair education

His salons, says Jawed, will not stop with giving you a smart cut, but educate you on what you must do for your tresses. “That’s what my salons stand for. Hair education. That’s how I want them to be known,” he says.

This is why he is incredibly proud of his 48 academies. That is where his staff is trained to cut hair well, and treat customers like kings. “When one sits on this black chair, it just does not matter who you are. You are our client,” he smiles.

Education is the crux of his latest book too, the best-selling Hair Yoga. In it, he dispels hair myths, guides your about what comb to choose and teaches you all about colouring and protecting hair, among other things.

Through decades of styling tresses, Jawed has learnt to peg his services well. He launched HairXpreso to cater to the lower end segment. It offered dry hair cuts by master stylists for Rs. 99 (now Rs. 149).

“That really opened up the market for us. Can you imagine we do about 400 hair cuts a day in our HairXpreso salons,” says Jawed. “People wait in a queue.” Now, Jawed has come up with two more brands — Hair Yoga, which launches in Kolkata, and offers branded hair massages; and Bevels, an ultra-luxury offering. “Bevels is a clinical salon. There’s a doctor to guide you on treatment.”

Hair education is Jawed’s pet project. “I like to put in place a system. Then, replication is easy.” That’s what he’s going to bank on to turn his vision of 5,000 salons in five years into reality. “There are two lakh small towns in India. Each will have a beauty parlour. Why can’t I fit that space?” he asks.

After all these years, Jawed, the third-generation hair dresser from his family, is still excited about his job. “Giving someone a hair cut relaxes me,” he says. “When I cut hair, I speak, I listen, I learn. That’s the base for my R and D,” he smiles.

So, who gives Jawed a hair cut? He laughs. “My clients — when they are not happy with a cut I give them. Even if they cut it badly, I carry it well. That’s what matters finally, right?”

The three salons are in Peelamedu (Hope College), R.S. Puram (near Balija Naidu Kalayna Mandapam) and Vellapanayakam Pudur (Saravanampatty Post, Thudiyalur Road). Call customer care at 98947-24862.