“Our vision is to become the largest player globally in the salon space”

Founder and CEO of Glam Studios Sadiya Naseem and her team have every reason to feel proud of their achievement while celebrating their 5th Anniversary. 200 Glam Studios mark their presence in 21 metros and towns across India, making them the fastest growing salon chain in India. Business has been good and growing well for the chain even in the COVID pandemic!

Glam Studios was conceptualised by Sadiya and her team on the realization that there were no salons offering standardised, high quality services for a budget conscious customer. This became their goal and a launching pad for a chain of affordable salons that offers premium beauty services at reasonable rates. Based on an aggregator model, the chain is a franchisee owned, franchisee operated (FOFO) model.

SS WEEKLY catches up with the dynamic Sadiya Naseem who tells us how the chain fared in the lockdown and their plans for the future.

Sandhya Chipalkatti: Glam Studios has turned 5 this year. How was your journey?

Yes, we have turned 5 (smiles). We have grown from 3 salons in January 2016 to 200+ salons now! We are present in 21 cities including all the metros and tier 2 cities. Sales of almost 50% of existing salons that are tied up with us have almost doubled, while all our new salons are achieving break-even within the first three months of operations.

Challenges are a part of an entrepreneur’s journey and we have used each one of our challenges as an opportunity for growth and learning. For instance, we weren’t from this industry when we started and while this was an impediment to a certain degree, it proved to be more of an opportunity for us to bring about the changes that the salon industry actually required.

Glam Studios was the first to offer full time Call Centre support or consulting, online appointment booking or an owner helpline. We also did away with product brand exclusivity, because we want new brands with new technologies to penetrate the market, while also giving our salon owners the freedom to pick and choose their product brands.

“Our mission is to make high quality grooming and beauty services available to the guy and girl next door “

How has business been for you through the lockdown? How is it now?

Like all salons, our business also got majorly impacted, with a number of our salons being closed for almost five to six months during lockdown. The good part is that none of our salons have permanently closed down, thanks to our low Capex model and judicious Opex calculations which helped them brave the lean period.

In fact, we have launched more than 25 salons post lockdown, and almost all of them achieved operational profitability in the second month of operations itself. So, I would say that business is now actually back to normal.

How have you managed your team in this period?

By the grace of GOD, we have been blessed with a very good team and that has been the reason why we are where we are today. We offered furloughs to a couple of people and also there

were salary cuts and delays with no appraisals, but the good thing is that none of it could shake the motivation of the team and we all came out of this pandemic, better and stronger than before.

How has the services industry changed post COVID?

The customer has become extremely safety and hygiene conscious. With the financial insecurity pervading post COVID, even well-off customers have also become budget conscious. This has actually been a blessing in disguise for us, driving the business forward, since we were already taking care of hygiene and safety while offering budget-friendly prices.

Was it easier for salon chains like yours to manage these big changes, as compared to stand-alone stores?

Even though the business has hit brands and stand-alone salons equally, I would say that Stand-alone salons and Premium Brands have been impacted badly. Small stand-alone salons, because of the customers being more quality and hygiene conscious and Premium brands because of their high Opex models. However, brands like ours, who cater to middle class customers have been actually benefiting from this scenario, with increased footfall coming from premium and stand-alone salons too (smiles).

We have launched more than 25 salons post lockdown, and almost all of them achieved operational profitability in the second month of operations.”

Have clients’ safety concerns made them turn to home services?

Home services have always been a part of our offerings. However, we have actually not seen a huge surge in demand for these services, maybe because our customers know their safety is guaranteed at the salon as well.

What would you advise small salons and barbershops at this time?

COVID has hit every industry and not only just beauty. My first advice to all fellow entrepreneurs running small salons is to stay positive and patient. There is no need to lose hope because now, markets have started to improve. Secondly, I would like to emphasise that COVID has hit customers both financially and socially. Consequently, they are conscious not only of safety, but also of quality and affordability. So, my advice to these players would be – if they found an opportunity to associate with any brand, they should grab it fast in order to win the trust of customers.

So, what’s next for Glam Studios?

We have worked diligently for the past five years in developing a model for both growth and support, which we are now replicating in different geographies. Our vision is to become the largest player globally in the salon space. Our mission is to make high quality grooming and beauty services available to the guy and girl next door across the world, with price points and convenience that they would adore.

On the roadmap are plans to enter the tier 2 / 3 markets with very affordable business propositions for investors. At the same time, offer predictable and pocket friendly services for customers. Besides this, we plan to open our Training Academies soon.

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