Ayurveda’s Story of World Domination

“It is a dream come true to see the worldwide recognition of Ayurveda. I strongly believe that Ayurvedic care can lead the international beauty industry within the next decade. It has been tested by the most exacting test of all…..the Test of Time!” With this statement, time after time, Shahnaz Husain has not only set the bars high for everyone but also for herself, never budging under the weight of time or criticism.

Shahnaz Husain, the torchbearer of organic beauty care, has acquired unforeseen acclaim for her practical application of Ayurveda, both nationally and internationally. Almost forty years ago, she imbibed Ayurveda into her methodology. In fact, her primary quest was for better alternatives to conventional chemo products. Her research in Ayurveda strengthened her faith in nature, and revealed that it had the ideal answers to an all-round cosmetic-care. Today, her name is a renowned brand and her face, all the marketing it needs. She is the head of the largest firm of its kind in the world, with a chain of over 400 franchise schools, shops, clinics and spas worldwide, along with Ayurvedic recipes for skin, hair, body and health care.

Shahnaz was born in a conservative family and had to conform according pre-existing norms. She was married at the age of 15 and became a mother by 16. When her husband was posted in Iran, it dawned upon her that she cannot shake off the idea of beauty and cosmetology. She worked for ten years on cosmetology and cosmetic therapy, at leading institutions of the West, like Helena Rubinstein, Christine Valmy, Swarzkopf, Lean of Copenhagen and Lancome, and supported her education by writing for the Iran Tribune. Embarking on the conduit of “Care and Cure,” she founded her own herbal clinic, in her very own house, with minimal capital investment, developing products for body, hair and skin care, based on Ayurveda and inventing clinical treatments for particular problems. Her treatments and formulations have become revolutions in natural beauty care. As a matter of fact, she has also become known for specialized treatments for specific skin and scalp disorders.

Her rise in the international realm, given the odds she had to face, is nothing short of a Cinderella story. Shaky economic conditions and rejections did not discourage her. When she entered the international market, she fought almost without any support, competing with top flight brands, in a market where billions of dollars are spent on marketing and advertising. With complete faith in her own abilities and an indomitable confidence in Ayurveda, she saw her products speaking for themselves. “I sold a 5000-year old civilization in a jar,” says Shahnaz.

Known for product innovation, Shahnaz Husain has created nearly 375 formulae for general beauty care, treatment of skin and scalp disorders, health and fitness. She realized the harmful and long lasting alter effects of chemical treatments. And thus, she developed a fondness for Ayurveda. Eventually, these have become breakthroughs in Ayurvedic care. The ingredients comprise of flower, fruit and herb extracts, essential oils etc. Modern manufacturing and R&D units, and extensive experience and expertise have provided the Group a lead its competitors in the refined formulation of merchandises.

Not only Shahnaz Husain’s franchise-based enterprise, but also her marketing strategies and innovations are truly unique. Even when the marketing and advertising has a huge impact on the products’ demand, commercial ads have been kept at bay for Shahnaz’s ventures. She started with a saloon on a modest budget of Rs. 35000 in Delhi and soon had advanced bookings for the next 6 months. She stopped promotions of her services thereafter as she believed firmly that her satisfied customers are enough to spread and vouch for her goodwill.

Shahnaz extended her base in the U.K., by launching her products at Lloyds Pharmacy, at Selfridges, the prestigious London store. Recently, Shahnaz Husain products had record breaking sales at Selfridges where a customer took home products worth Rs. 4334 in a single buy. Apart from Selfridges, there is an exclusive Shahnaz Ayurveda Aesthetic Clinic on Harley Street and Edgware Road in London, as well as seven franchise salons in the United Kingdom.

The Shahnaz Husain Group operates in over a hundred countries, where it has direct product distributors, franchise salons and beauty institutes. According to Shahnaz Husain, founder & chairperson of The Shahnaz Husain Group, “We are expanding our footprints across the globe. We will take Ayurveda and Brand India to more countries within a year.”

Shahnaz Husain’s efforts to empower women are also noteworthy. Very early in her career, she spurred-on ordinary housewives to open salons in their own homes, trained them in beauty and offered the ‘Shahnaz Herbal’ name. This provided them the opportunity to set off on a career and gain financial independence and yet, be close to home and family. Her rise has inspired many women to follow their dreams with conviction and resolution.

She has also led the way for vocational training in beauty in India. Shahnaz started her beauty institute 35 years ago, when only apprenticeship training was available, to provide professional and comprehensive training in beauty. Shahnaz has also proven her committment towards empowering the underprivileged section of the society by means of her free beauty training courses for speech and hearing impaired and visually challenged students. She has also written a beauty book, which has been translated in Braille. She also helps in providing career opportunities to such physically challenged students. According to Shahnaz Husain, “Empowering lives has been the motivation for our endeavors.”

Shahnaz Husain has received several prestigious international awards. In fact, during the month of September 2012, she achieved the unique distinction of being honoured with THREE prestigious international awards in London, in one month. She received the “Outstanding Ayurvedic Innovation Award” at the House of Commons in the British Parliament. The award was presented to her by Mr. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communications and Local Government. She also received the “Woman of the Year” Asian Achievers Award from Asian Business Publications Ltd (ABPL), as well as the prestigious Olympia Award for

“Outstanding Contribution in Ayurveda and Plant Cosmetics” at the Olympia Show in London. Such international awards celebrate Shahnaz Husain’s spirit of enterprise and recognize her phenomenal achievements at the international level.

She became the first woman to receive the World’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur Award from Success magazine of the USA. Her other international awards include the Arch of Europe International Gold Star in Madrid, Spain, the Quality Excellence Award in Geneva, Cannes and London, Golden America Award in New York, the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur Award in London, Woman of the Millennium Award in USA, Woman of the Year Award from the Governor of California, USA and the WQC International Star Award in Paris in November 2007 and Leonardo da Vinci Diamond Award by International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, U.K. in 2008. Recently, Shahnaz Husain received several awards in quick succession. These include the Leonardo Da Vinci Diamond Award and World Medal of Freedom, in Washington DC in July 2009. The Award acknowledges individuals who have distinguished themselves and contributed to their country and society. In October 2009, she received the prestigious International Star Award 2009, in Geneva, in the Diamond Category, for Quality Excellence. The award is recognition of the Quality Excellence of Ayurvedic products. On 7th November 2009, she received the Jewel Award 2009 in London for Outstanding Entrepreneurship and Woman Empowerment. She was also honoured with their Asian Women Power 100 Award, recognizing international achievements of top individuals. She has also received the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award at Mumbai, from Enterprise Asia, Malaysia, the prestigious GR8 Women Achievers Award for entrepreneurship and the Woman of Substance Award from the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). Shahnaz Husain was also honoured with the prestigious “Most Admired Beauty Personality – Retail Category Award” from the Images Group, as well as the “Asia’s Leading Woman in Business”Award from WIL Forum Asia, in Malaysia. She also recently received the Outstanding Ayurvedic Innovation Award in Shanghai, from the China Chamber of Commerce. She was also honoured with the “PHD Chamber Outstanding Business Woman 2012” Award, as well as the Glory of India Award recently in Dubai for her outstanding innovations in Ayurvedic beauty care. She also received the Golden Peacock Entrepreneurial Leadership Award in London in 2014, for Ayurvedic Innovations.

In 2006, Shahnaz was honoured with the Padma Shri Award. The prestigious Padma awards are the highest Indian civilian awards and are conferred for exceptional and distinguished service towards the country, as well as distinguished achievement in one’s chosen field. She is the first person from the beauty sphere to receive the Padma Award.

One of Shahnaz Husain’s greatest achievements was attending U.S. President Obama’s Summit of Entrepreneurs twice in one year, first in Washington DC in April 2010 and then in Mumbai in November 2010, during the President’s visit to India. Having distinguished herself as a pioneer and business leader, Shahnaz was selected to attend the prestigious Presidential Summits from among a field of many highly qualified aspirants. For Shahnaz it was recognition of her relentless efforts to promote Ayurveda worldwide.

Shahnaz never took it as work; it was a mission to glorify an Indian heritage thousands of years old, to glorify India. Today, Shahnaz Husain is a legend in her own lifetime, while her organization is a magnificent expression of her dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Suchit Mathur
Writer is a student. Reading and writing are his passion.

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 3 Issue 4,July 2016)

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