Known as ‘India’s Herbal Queen’ Shahnaz Husain has been helping women with their beauty issues for over 40 years. Her passion for beauty has made her a household name among women all over the country. She is at present the Founder, Chairperson and Managing Director of the Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies. In a candid interview with Ayurveda & Health Tourism magazine, she talks about her journey as a beauty entrepreneur and the different encounters she faced in this expedition.
- You are a Harvard Subject. Tell us about your lecture at MIT.
I lectured at MIT, Sloan School of Management, to graduate students, MIT faculty and aspiring entrepreneurs. I spoke on Ayurveda, highlighting our innovations that have taken the international markets by storm. I said, “With cosmetic empires pumping billions of dollars in a hysterically mad cosmetic industry that sells youth & dreams in bottles, there I stood up and sold our 3000 BC ancient Indian civilization in a jar. It was not easy.” The western world is fighting with its back to the wall, staggering under the side-effects of synthetics and going back to nature. It has no option but to turn to India & Ayurveda. India is destined to lead the world with the power of Ayurveda. I also told them there is no such thing as destiny. You can make your own destiny. You can be what you want yourself to be. I spoke on woman empowerment and education of women; how I encouraged women to achieve financial independence through a networking system. I told the aspiring entrepreneurs, “You were born to be leaders. Why should you be a follower? Be a leader and lead from the front.”
- What inspired you to start your own enterprise and become an entrepreneur?
My spirit to be independent was an inspiration in itself. I had the burning desire to create something and to establish my ideas and innovations. This was my guiding inspiration. Translating my dreams and ideas into reality inspired me to become an entrepreneur. My idea was to provide herbal beauty, based on the principle of “care and cure.” I knew that the only way I could translate my ideas was by starting my own herbal salon and thus implement my ideas of customized beauty care.
- You have adopted Ayurveda for beauty care. What are the benefits of Ayurveda over synthetic ingredients?
Ayurveda literally means “the science of life.” Established 5000 years ago, by the sages of India, it is the oldest and most developed system of herbal healing in the world. Ayurveda draws upon the healing properties of plant ingredients and other natural substances. We have applied Ayurveda in beauty treatments and found that it has the ideal answers to the demands of modern cosmetic care. One of the advantages is that it has a long history of safe usage. The human body responds extremely well to natural ingredients, while it has an in-built resistance to synthetic ones. Natural remedies offer the element of safety, as they have shown a lack of harmful after-effects and reactions. Synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, can cause the build up of toxins in the system over a period of time. We have used extracts of herbs, flowers, fruits, essential oils, even precious minerals and gems, in our formulations, according to the Ayurvedic system.
- Please tell us about your philanthropic activities.
I wanted to make a positive contribution towards empowering the less privileged by supporting vocational beauty training for the physically challenged, so that they have the opportunity to be financially independent and self-reliant. I started my free beauty training courses for the speech & hearing and visually impaired and acid attack survivors. We are also involved in Government Skill Development projects for Training and Certifying under-privileged women in the beauty and health industry. Over 40,000 women have been trained. I believe that Skill Development certainly has great social relevance in a developing country like India.
- What is your advice to young women entrepreneurs?
First of all, professional qualifications and training is the order of the day. So, it is very essential today to acquire professional and vocational training in the required field. If you can get advanced training and also specialize in some aspect, it can be an advantage. Believe in yourself and your own abilities. Never give up. If you never give up, you are bound not to fail. Have the ability to adapt and adjust, because one has to adapt to the changing demands of the market and trends. You may start in a small way, but think “big.” You have to think that nothing is beyond you.