VLCC Baghat is emerging as one of the most popular salons in the valley. It has earned quite a name for itself among young and old alike. All of this couldn’t have been possible without the lady, Zubeda Yusuf, the co-owner and executive director of VLCC Baghat, who spoke with Kashmir Scan Correspondent Taniya Nadeem, in a freewheeling interview.
TN) Your VLCC centre has become a very renowned beauty centre in the Valley. A lot of credit goes to you for that. Tell me something about yourself?
ZY) I come from a family which has always emphasised on importance of education. My father is a doctor, and thus you can say, that initially not many people were convinced with me starting my own centre. It gets tough for a woman in Kashmir to start something like this, but Alhamdulillah (Thanks to Allah in Arabic) everything is streamlined now.
TN) So how is it that you, coming from a family of doctors, decided to open a Salon and Slimming centre?
ZY) From a very young age, I developed an inclination towards everything related to beauty; be it regular beauty services or makeup and hairstyling. My mother always pushed me towards my dream and that’s how I learned the tricks of the trade. However, back in the day, it was considered to be a taboo to work in a salon or to have a salon of your own. So, the dream to have a salon or a beauty parlour remained a dream for a very long time due to societal constraints.
One day, my husband, Mr I.A Lone, met some people who held high positions in VLCC Corporate House and discussed how the beauty and wellness industry in the Valley has become stagnant over the years. So they suggested opening a VLCC centre in J&K. That’s how we became the master franchisee holders of VLCC in the state. And like they say, rest in history.
TN) Was it easy to open the centre in the Valley? And what all problems did you face, being a woman entrepreneur, in our society?
ZY) Honestly, it wasn’t really very easy. The first reason being the fact that, when you want to establish something as big a project as VLCC, people always tend to discourage you and bring down your morale. I have heard it all: “Kashmir is an uncertain place to start a new venture”, “How can a woman single-handedly work as an entrepreneur” or “It’s not good for a woman to have a business of her own”.
Apart from that, designing the infrastructure and giving shape to this project was very hectic. When we started working on the Jammu project, out architect left the work half-way and disappeared. So I had to look for a new one immediately because we had a close deadline to meet.
TN) How did you manage to finally listen to your heart and take this step which is being appreciated by everyone today?
ZY) I have always believed that you live for yourself alone and what people say and what the society thinks is a matter that should be left to them. Because no matter how hard you work or how professional you are, people judge you how they want to.
Alhamdulillah, I have a supportive family and that’s how everything fell into place for me. Definitely, it was very hard to build something like this in a place like Kashmir. And it is hard work every single day because I strive to give the best service to the people of Kashmir. It’s a customer’s smile that matters to me.
TN) Do you see any change in the beauty industry in the Valley and peoples’ mindset about it?
ZY) Yes, things have taken a turn for the better in the Valley. Wherever we go, we see salons, gyms and slimming centres. So, it is definitely a good sign. And people have also become more accepting in the way they see and think about the industry. All in all, it’s a welcome change.
TN) Young girls who want to work and become entrepreneurs often find themselves in a fix because their families are conservative. What do you want to tell them?
ZY) I want to tell them to strive to be independent, to educate themselves and to become an asset for their family. Understand that girls are equal to boys in every way. By becoming an entrepreneur, they can become financially independent which I believe is very important for girls.
Gone are the days when girls used to marry young and bury their dreams. Today, girls can do anything. I am very proud to be a woman because when you are a woman, you have the power and creativity to run the world. So go ahead, ladies, do the right thing, be independent and make sure you fulfil your dreams.
TN) Lastly, I want to ask you about your mantra for success
ZY)(Laughs) HARD WORK! HARD WORK AND HARD WORK! There are no shortcuts to success. I come to the salon daily and look after customers and other work without fail. So, if you want to succeed, the key indeed is hard work.