Shahnaz Husain Biography & Journey
The Shahnaz Husain story is the story of the spirit of true entrepreneurship. It provides a rare insight into the individual qualities that make one person stand apart from the rest. It is the story of a woman, a first generation entrepreneur, a pioneer, visionary and innovator, who introduced a totally new concept of Ayurvedic Care and Cure worldwide, with universal appeal and application. It is the story of a woman who created a brand and an international market for Ayurvedic beauty and health care. In a world ridden with environmental degradation, Shahnaz Husain opened the windows of the world to Nature and its healing powers, taking the Indian herbal heritage of Ayurveda to every corner of the globe with a crusader’s zeal.
Shahnaz Husain, the pioneer of organic beauty care, has achieved unprecedented international acclaim for her practical application of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of herbal healing. Just when there was a worldwide “back to nature” trend, Shahnaz Husain recaptured an ancient herbal system and made it relevant to modern demands. Almost four decades ago, she adopted the principle of Ayurveda, based on an integrated system of clinical treatments and product ranges. In fact, her career has been a constant search for a better alternative. Her study of Ayurveda, the Indian holistic system of herbal healing, strengthened her faith in nature, finding that it could offer the ideal answers to protective, preventive and even corrective cosmetic-care. Today, her name has become the brand and she is herself the brand ambassador. She heads the largest organization of its kind in the world, with a chain of over 400 franchise clinics, shops, schools and spas worldwide, as well as Ayurvedic formulations for skin, hair, body and health care. Her journey, from one herbal clinic to a worldwide chain, is one of unprecedented success.
Born into a conservative family, Shahnaz had to comply with existing traditions and was married at the tender age of 15, becoming a mother by the time she was 16. She trained for ten years in cosmetic therapy and cosmetology, at leading institutions of the West, like Helena Rubinstein, Swarzkopf, Christine Valmy, Lancome and Lean of Copenhagen. Adopting the principle of “Care and Cure,” she set up her own herbal clinic, in her own home, with very little capital investment, formulating products for skin, hair and body care, based on the Ayurvedic system and devising clinical treatments for specific problems. Her formulations and treatments have become breakthroughs in natural beauty care. In fact, she has also become known for specialized treatments for specific skin and scalp disorders.
Her success in the international arena, in the face of great odds, is itself phenomenal. Financial constraints and closed doors did not deter her. When she entered the international market, she fought a lone battle, competing with the biggest brand names, in a market, where billions of dollars are spent on advertising and packaging. Armed only with complete faith in her own abilities and an invincible belief in Ayurveda, she allowed her products to speak for themselves. “I sold a 5000-year old civilization in a jar,” says Shahnaz.
Known for product innovation, Shahnaz Husain has evolved nearly 375 formulations for general beauty care, treatment of skin and scalp disorders, health and fitness. They have become breakthroughs in Ayurvedic care. The ingredients comprise of herb, flower and fruit extracts, essential oils and other natural substances. State-of-the-art manufacturing and R&D units, as well as long expertise have given the Group an edge over others in the sophisticated formulation of products. Apart from the legendary Shahnaz Herbal range, there are many products for beauty care, based on specific extracts. A line of Ayurvedic health tonics, medicinal formulations, herbal drinks, herbal teas, herbal capsules and Aromatherapy essential oils have also been launched. Shahnaz Husain has recently launched some revolutionary products, which include the 24 Carat Gold Range, Pearl Cream and Mask, Oxygen Cream, Diamond Collection, Plant Stem Cells, the Platinum Range, the revolutionary Telomere DNA Defence and Black Diamond ranges. Advanced therapeutic products called Chemoline have also been introduced to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation on the skin and hair.
It is not only Shahnaz Husain’s franchise-based enterprise, but also her marketing strategies and innovations that are truly unique. Even at a time, when the demand for the product is sustained through advertising, Shahnaz has not relied on commercial advertisements. During the last three decades, the Shahnaz Husain Group has acquired a tremendous global presence, having sold at prestigious stores, as well as exclusive outlets and clinics worldwide. With the professional infrastructure to support the demands of products and publicity, and tremendous goodwill, the Shahnaz Husain Group has also gone global with its other ventures, like the Shahnaz Husain lifestyle shops, Beauty Training Academies, Ayurvedic Centres and Shahnaz Husain Ayurvedic Spas, all based on her franchise system.
Shahnaz extended her base in the U.K., by launching the sale of her products at Lloyds Pharmacy, at Selfridges, the prestigious London store. Recently, Shahnaz Husain products touched record breaking sales at Selfridges where a single customer bought products worth ₤4,334 in a single transaction. Apart from Selfridges, there is an exclusive Shahnaz Ayurveda Aesthetic Clinic on Harley Street and Edgeware Road in London, along with seven more franchise salons in the U.K.
Currently, the Shahnaz Husain Group operates in more than 100 countries, where it has franchise salons, direct product distributors 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 contribution towards woman empowerment is also noteworthy. Very early in her career, she encouraged ordinary housewives to open salons in their own homes, training them in beauty and offering the Shahnaz Herbal name. This provided them the opportunity to embark on a career and attain financial independence and yet, be close at hand to attend to home and family. Her success has inspired thousands of women to follow their dreams with faith and courage.
She is also the pioneer of vocational training in beauty in India. More than 35 years ago, when only apprenticeship training was available, Shahnaz started her beauty institute, to provide professional and comprehensive training in beauty. Shahnaz has also been committed towards empowering the less privileged section of the society through her free beauty training courses for speech and hearing impaired and visually challenged students. She has also written a beauty book, which has been put 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 endeavours.”
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 Millenium 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 the 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. Indeed, there is no doubt that it is Shahnaz Husain who single-handedly put India on the world beauty map and had the Indian flag flying high at the cosmetic capitals of the world. Thus, she has been recognized for her total dedication and commitment to promoting India’s herbal heritage for the last three decades.
It is not only her franchise-based enterprise, but also her marketing strategies that are truly unique. Even at a time, when the demand for the product is sustained through advertising, she has not relied on commercial advertisements. In fact, she was invited to speak at Harvard Business School on how she established an international brand without commercial advertising, highlighting the strategies she adopted to establish her global network of franchise ventures. She also spoke at University of Oxford, to the students of Oxford Business School on Women Entrepreneurs in India – Challenges and Opportunities, as well as the London School of Economics on India’s rising global influence. In April 2013, she spoke to students at MIT on Brand India and woman empowerment. Recently, she achieved the dual honour of speaking at the House of Lords and House of Commons in the British Parliament and also walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival 2013.
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 Husain’s innovations and spirit of enterprise are well matched. Never losing sight of the basic nature principle and Ayurveda, her contribution to her field is unprecedented. Through her career, regular columns and books, she has created an awareness of the dangers of chemical treatments that has influenced minds and market demands. Her career is a portrayal of how she has translated her ideas into reality, living life by her values and unique philosophy.
Fighting for India’s rights and recognition, Shahnaz has held press conferences worldwide. Among the reasons for her unprecedented success is her remarkable vision, which recognized the immense potential and relevance of Ayurveda. Says Shahnaz, “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!” To others, work is their career, but to Shahnaz Husain…. selling India’s herbal heritage is the sole purpose of her existence. Today, Shahnaz Husain is a legend in her own lifetime, while her organization is a magnificent expression of her dreams, hopes and aspirations.