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When the beautician knocks…

Naturals @Home is the latest entrant in this segment. Photo: R. Ravindran

Naturals @Home is the latest entrant in this segment. Photo: R. Ravindran  

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Pamper yourself in the comfort of your space... Naveena Vijayan on the growing trend of home salons.

It is my first time. Till date, I have taken up all my hair and skin grooming services in the unfamiliar rooms of salons. Now, there is a stranger waiting with hot wax and paper strips in my bedroom. What led to this? A harsh sun and a working weekend. As much as time constraint is a reason, a visit to the nearest salon would have also meant filling fuel in the car, braving the traffic, and finding a parking space. A load of things for some beauty? Probably not. I instead download an app called UrbanClap.



The app has a network of beauticians, carpenters, plumbers, yoga teachers, wedding photographers and more. All you have to do is select ‘Salon Services at Home’, and add items (waxing, bleach, facial) to the cart. On Friday night, I opted for the Monthly Wax and Relax package at Rs.499 — the minimum order price requirement — and received an instant confirmation for a 9 a.m. appointment on Saturday, along with the beautician’s name and photo. It was an Ola/Uber déjà vu moment.



Devi was at my doorstep at 8.45 a.m. From the crack of the door, I see her stirring the honey wax set on my study table, and spreading a white sheet on my bed. The strangeness of it ends when the first coat of wax is applied; it’s the same pain. Except, I can hear my mom talking to the neighbour, and see a younger me smiling from an old frame. Over the course of epilation, I learn that Devi has an experience of over 17 years, and ran a couple of salons in Ambattur before giving it up to take care of her kids. She was hired by UrbanClap a few months ago, and goes around the city on her two-wheeler for at least three services a day.



There are around 30 others like Devi, who have been trained by UrbanClap, which gets over 6,000 requests for home beauty services per month from Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. The services and products are standardised. Though beauty services account for only five per cent of its total requests, they earned the company a business worth of Rs 2.5 crore in February 2016 alone, according to a report shared by them.



Started in November 2014, UrbanClap is probably the oldest (in India), though only by a few months, among the many ventures that are lapping up this trend that’s taking the beauty industry by storm. A recent hefty investment made by SoftBank Capital on GlamSquad, an on-demand beauty service business launched in New York City in 2014, stands proof.



Meanwhile, in India, beauty and hair salon giant Naturals has also joined the bandwagon. The brand invested Rs. 100 crore in Vyomo, a Bangalore-based mobile platform for beauty and wellness services, rebranding and launching it as Naturals @Home on April 29. The entire strength of the staff in the 500-odd salons across the country will be part of the network. “This comes as a step towards providing on-demand beauty services for the customers, and empowering the staff, or smile providers as we call them. While at present the capacity utilisation in our salons is around 50 per cent, with Naturals @Home, it would increase to 70 per cent. This in turn would increase their pay, as they would attend to more clients,” says C K Kumaravel, co-founder and CEO, Naturals, which has also launched its own training academy in the city now.



Other players include Housejoy, a concept similar to Urban Clap, which began its services in Bangalore in April 2015, later expanding to six other cities, including Chennai. Prem Anand, head of its operations in the city, rolls out some figures: 500 requests every day for beauty services pan India, and around 30 to 40 in Chennai. “As we move towards a time-poor world, where women shoulder as many responsibilities at the workplace as at home, the whole concept of a salon where you have to wait for ages before you can get your turn, is obsolete. The new economy is about convenience and quality.” Another Chennai-based home beauty service, Pamperazi, was born out of the same sentiment, in August 2015. Lavanya Iyer, its founder, and mother of a one-year-old, says, “I could neither leave my kid and go to a salon nor find someone who provides quality and hygienic services at home. So, I decided to start a network of beauticians on my own. Now, the venture has takers from working mothers to over 70-year-old women who want to be ‘pampered’.”





Highs

Get the service done in the comfort of your home

Perfect for summer

Save on fuel and time

Get an appointment as early at 7 a.m.

No waiting time

Lows

Restricted nail colours

Most platforms do not offer haircuts and hair colouring

No services for men

For many apps, booking is valid only above a specific amount

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2018 1:11:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/beauty-services-at-your-doorstep/article8580649.ece

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