Women and Entrepreneurship
SUCCESSFUL WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS contd...
Shahnaz Husain (Shahnaz) was another
successful woman entrepreneur of India. She popularized herbal treatments
for beauty and health problems. Her company, Shahnaz Husain Herbals, was the
largest of its kind in the world and had a strong presence in over 100
countries, from the US to Asia. By 2002, the Shahnaz Husain Group had over
650 salons around the world, employing about 4200 people. The net worth of
the Group was $100 million.
Shahnaz Husain was born into a royal Muslim family
which originally came from Samarkand (in Pakistan) and later held
important posts in the princely kingdoms of Bhopal and Hyderabad before
India's independence. Shahnaz's father, Justice N.U Beg, was a
progressive man who instilled in her a love for poetry and English
literature. Shahnaz Husain received her schooling in an Irish convent. A
western education coupled with a traditional family background gave
Shahnaz Husain wide exposure and developed her into a well rounded
personality. She was married at the age of 15 and had a child by the
When her husband was working in Iran, Shahnaz Husain became
interested in cosmetology. After she began her training, she realized that
chemical cosmetics had a harmful effect on the human body. As a result, she
turned her attention towards ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of
medicine, which used natural substances and extracts to heal and improve the
body. Subsequently, she trained extensively in cosmetic therapy for 10 years
in some of the leading institutes of London, Paris, New York and Copenhagen.
On her return to India in 1977 she set up her own salon at her house in
Delhi with an initial investment of Rs 35000. Instead of offering chemical
treatments like other salons, Shahnaz Husain's salon offered Ayurvedic
treatments. Shahnaz's custom made natural products for skin and hair
problems quickly became successful.
Shahnaz Husain pioneered the commercialization of ayurvedic cosmetics. Until
she started her business, ayurveda was practiced in peoples' homes or by
local ayurvedic doctors. The commercialization of ayurveda was relatively
unknown in the 1970s when Shahnaz Husain entered the business. Shahnaz
Husain capitalized on this deficiency. She identified ayurveda as a niche
market and catered to it. Her products gained popularity in India, and her
treatments were booked months in advance. Encouraged by her success in
India, Shahnaz Husain started exploring avenues abroad. She was disturbed by
the fact that India was not represented in any of the international beauty
forums. Determined to change the situation, she represented India for the
first time in the CIDESCO beauty congress, where she was appointed
President for the day's proceedings. She used this opportunity to focus the
world's attention on India and ayurveda.
The turning point in her business came when she represented India at the
Festival of India in 1980. Her team was given a counter in the perfumery
section of Selfridges in London. She managed to sell her entire consignment
in three days and also broke the store's record for cosmetics sales for the
year. As a result, she was offered a permanent counter in Selfridges.
Shahnaz Husain was also the first Asian whose products were retailed in the
Galeries Lafayette in Paris and to be featured in the 18-foot shop window of
the store. Although it was not easy to enter the highly competitive western
markets and especially difficult to attract attention to the Indian system
of ayurveda, she was able to gain a firm foothold in the markets. Shahnaz
Husain products were carried by many prestigious stores across the world,
such as Harrods and Selfridges in London, the Galeries Lafayette in Paris,
Bloomingdales in New York, the Seiyu chain in Japan, Sultan Stores in the
Middle East and other exclusive outlets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
SHRI MAHILA GRIHA UDYOG LIJJAT PAPAD (SMGULP)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
ADDITIONAL READINGS & REFERENCES
 CIDESCO is one of the
world's major beauty therapy associations.Founded in 1946, its head office is in Zurich, Switzerland.
2010, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted
in any form or by any means - electronic or mechanical, without permission.
To order copies, call +91- 8417- 236667 or write to ICMR,
Survey No. 156/157, Dontanapalli Village, Shankerpalli Mandal,
Ranga Reddy District,
Andhra Pradesh, INDIA.
Ph: +91- 8417- 236667,
Fax: +91- 8417- 236668