She is one of the most prominent personalities of the corporate world. She is making a constant effort to beautify the skin of people with her beauty products. She has been continuously striving hard to slow down the aging process and nourish the skin of people and thus make them look younger than their age. Well, we are talking about none other than the ruler of the beauty world, Shahnaz Hussain.
She comes from a royal Muslim family and her father was a very powerful man. She did her schooling from the Irish convent. Since a very young age, she had an interest in poetry and English literature. She grew up in a traditional family, but was privileged to receive modern education.
Shahnaz was engaged at 14 and married at 16. The same year she had a daughter. She was not meant to be a housewife. Soon the drudgery and monotony of routine set in. She suddenly realized the hard-hitting truth of the words she once wrote, "Let not my life be a series of days and nights, of hopes and sighs; so that when I die, I will close my eyes and say it was all worthwhile".
She started studying beauty at 17 and went on from London to Paris, Germany, Denmark and New York, over 10 years. She did not stop until she felt that “I had achieved the ultimate”. Then at 27, her husband was posted as head of Foreign Trade with the STC in Tehran, needed money for higher education. She could not speak Persian, so a job was not easy. She was always a prolific writer. She finally got an opening as Beauty Editor of Iran Tribune. She was asked to give those 500 words a week. She gave them 10, 000 words a week! She wrote on every topic under the sun, from heaven to poetry. Finally, one issue had six articles written by her, under fictitious names. Her confidence soared, so did the income. She went to Abraham Lincoln Library, bought a book of Pitman's typing. She typed the whole night, often with one finger and wrote the whole day, till her fingertips bled. The only way to stop the pain and bleeding was to tie bandages. Her determination guided her on. She needed to earn her fees for higher education abroad. She finally earned a way through 2 years of specialization in cosmetology and trichology. Then she went back to India and started working.
Birth of the Spark
During her stay in Rubinstein, when she was dealing with skin disorders, she realized that a large number of problems were due to the absorption of synthetic cosmetics. She thought, she would go back to the country and produce the same from herbs. Surprisingly, she found a better alternative. She had two options, either to start a private clinic for cures, as an answer to a human need or the basic desire to look attractive, or to enter the market. She chose the former and started a herbal clinic, keeping to prescriptive, at a personalized level, where she could help individual problems. She was earning less, but would achieve satisfaction. She borrowed Rs.35, 000/- from her father and converted a verandah of her house into a clinic, by adding a roof. She already had the gadgetry from abroad. That is how she began.
Now, after 36 years, she has a chain of about 400 franchise clinics in India and abroad, under the Shahnaz Herbal banner. She never advertised. She entered the retail market only about a decade ago. She has been writing columns and articles for papers, magazines and now contributing to websites, all over the world. In 1980, she represented India at the CIDESCO World Beauty Congress in New York and was appointed President of the congress proceedings. She was also elected Chairman of the I.T.E.C. International Beauty Congress in 1981 and later in the year, she represented India at the Cosmetics Fair at Brighton, U.K.
In 1982, she was elected Vice President Independent Professional Therapists International. She actually achieved much success in the Festival of India in 1981, where the sales broke the cosmetic sales record at Selfridges. The next day the Daily Telegraph had a headline saying, "Herbal Hell Breaks Loose at Selfridges". This was followed by a BBC television interview on her entitled, "Meet the Herbal Hotline". In an interview abroad, she was told that she has a superiority complex about India and her herbal heritage. She answered that it is no complex - we are superior. Since then the entry into the international market, chain of clinics and outlets has extended rapidly, to every corner of the globe.
The Indian Government featured her in a television series for the United Nations established consortium, called "Woman of the Decade". She is proud to represent India at various fairs and occasions, like the India Hour, when she spoke on herbal heritage and herbal cosmetic care.
In 1984, she was presented the Udyog Ratan Award for Export Excellence and since then she had won it twice. She was been honored with several international awards and achieved much recognition. These include the World's Greatest Woman Entrepreneur award from Success magazine of the U.S.A., becoming the first woman to receive it in the 107-year history of the magazine awards.
Shahnaz says “It gives me a sense of achievement, because it was my burning desire to put India on the world beauty map and have the Indian flag flying high in the cosmetic capitals of the world. I have always wanted to encourage the Indian housewife to have a career and attain financial independence, because I think it makes all the difference”.
She had set up a beauty school "Woman's World International" and followed a comprehensive syllabus. This was about 25 years ago and at that time only apprenticeship training was available in beauty. She encouraged housewives to learn beauty and open their own salons in their own homes, under the Shahnaz Herbal banner. She thought this would ensure that they could pursue a career without having to leave home, keeping an eye on home and family. She also started Shamute, a free training school for the speech and hearing impaired. It was inaugurated in 1984 by the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh.
She has dominated the market from the USA to Asia. During 1990s, the average growth rate of her company, which is based in New Delhi, was nearly 19.4%. In the year 2002, her Company touched $100 million. Her works are real praiseworthy and have been appreciated all over the world. She has received many awards such as "The Arch of Europe Gold Star for Quality", "The 2000 Millennium Medal of Honor", "Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award" and many more.
The measure of success she has achieved in life is not according to what she has earned, but how much happiness and self-confidence she has been able to instill into others. If one is true to oneself, success will follow. She believed that it is not what you want in life - what really matters is how badly one wants it. She also believed in quality and not quantity of life spent. For others, a good life may mean living for 100 years. For her, she lived a lifetime between the rising and the setting of the sun. She would not have it any other way. She has dedicated her life to India's herbal heritage. Let the future be the witness.
Today, her products are being exported to over 130 countries and she attributes her success to her determination. Completing more than two and a half decades in this business, she is expanding her empire quoting that 'failure' word doesn't exist in her dictionary and she never stops trying.
The world's leading brand and manufacturer of herbal and ayurvedic cosmetic, Shahnaz Hussain walked in with husband Raj to watch fashion designer Abhishek and Nandita's show.
Awards and Honours
- She was awarded the Padmasri, a civilian award by the Govt. of INDIA in 2006
- The 2000 Millennium Medal of Honor
- Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award
- Udyog Ratan Award
- Success Magazine's World's Greatest Woman Entrepreneur award - 1996
- International Star Award for Quality 2009 in the Diamond category, in Geneva
- She won the prestigious Leonardo Da Vinci Diamond award and the World Medal of Freedom for iconic achievement in the field of Ayurveda at the World Forum
Quotes by Shahnaz
- "I had no idea of becoming as big as I finally became"
- "That moment decided my future"
- "I would study all these chemical formulas, go back to India and create them from plants"
- "Entrepreneurs are not born they are created"
- "If one is true to oneself, success will follow"