Anoo sisters on their journey: From a garage to a global market

Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Anoo sisters recall their 37-year-old journey in the beauty business

March 06, 2020 12:21 pm | Updated 02:09 pm IST

Anoo sisters

Anoo sisters

Women entrepreneurship never had it easy. In the 80s, the complexities were more due to lack of awareness and business acumen. ‘Grooming’ and ‘styling’ were not common practises unless you were in showbiz and working for hospitality industry. So to be a beautician was an uphill journey. But with a self-belief and their parents’ support, four sisters, Anuradha Chepyala, Polsani Annapurna and twins Takkallapalli Anupama and Anirudha Miryala — known as ‘Anoo sisters’ — changed the face of beauty business in Hyderabad. On a mid-week visit to the Anoos Beauty School building in Somajiguda, one finds it is business as usual. Annapurna, one of the sisters, is busy poring over files. She takes a step back to recall their 37-year journey and the roadblocks they faced.

How it started

“Imagine a beauty parlour in a garage,” laughs Annapurna. Yes, a garage was the starting point of their start-up, an idea mooted by their father Thirupati Rao, a municipal commissioner. The girls pursued their studies and their interest in beauty too. “We had no restrictions and could pursue whatever we wished to. My father was a feminist and a visionary. He encouraged us and also my mother to study and take competitive exams.” When Anuradha and Annapurna started beauty salon Anoos in their garage of their Tilak Nagar house, the colony witnessed a big celebration. “Most of the residents were our acquaintances and were happy and proud of our venture. My mother’s friends used to bring their daughters for bridal make-up, waxing and facials.” Initially, their clients were just a handful, but the numbers grew rapidly. The four siblings joined by two of their cousins needed a bigger space and extended the salon to one portion of their house (“With an income of ₹2000, we paid ₹400 rent to father”). They brushed aside snide remarks from their uncles and aunts who disapproved of the girls cutting other people’s hair!

Anoo sisters

Anoo sisters

The sisters then got married and moved to different areas in Hyderabad. Their business too expanded to Vidya Nagar, Himayath Nagar and Secunderabad. Annapurna calls their beauty venture ‘a need-based one’ and explains that her own desire to get the hair on her chin removed led to their interest in unwanted hair removal methods and electrolysis.

She says, “Initially, there was no competition in the market, but women were not ready for this culture of beauty. Now, there is more focus on looking good and the competition too has increased with many global brands launching their services here. The beauty industry is growing rapidly.” The sisters enrolled at Butic College of Beauty in Mumbai and Christine Valmy Beauty School in New York and opened their Anoos Clinic and Beauty School in Somajiguda in 2006. While Annapurna, Anuradha and Anupama live in Hyderabad, Anirudha lives in the U.S. and opened an Anoos branch in Florida.

Growing market

The market grew and with it their business too; their pan-India and overseas market became a boost to the lifestyle industry. Around 500 girls enjoy employment opportunities working in their institutes. Discussing her views on women’s emancipation, she says, “Most of the girls are from less-privileged backgrounds and are pressured to juggle various roles at home. We often share our stories to tell them about the hard work we put in to reach here. We help them understand that they are the best managers. I feel proud to see them support themselves and their families too.”

Talking about the hiccups, she says, “It is tough for us to constantly adjust with the system. We faced many roadblocks as our business faced rough weather with the Telangana agitation and the GST period. We struggled to pay salaries to our employees. We have regained our foothold now by focussing more on treatment-based procedures.”

Annapurna is now a grandmother and says she draws her energy from her 85-year-old father. “He scolds me if I don’t leave for office by 9 am,” she laughs and adds, “We took years to build this brand and continue to work with the same passion.”

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