Adhuna Bhabani - A Bold Brave & Blunt Woman Shares Her Story #RealWomenRealStories
Adhuna Bhabani & Avan Contractor talk about their journey towards BBLUNT! Check out their inspiring story.
1. How did it start? Which year? Avan Contractor: It all started in 1998. Od and I had met socially a couple of times. There had been word of this British hairdresser in India doing some great work for Channel V and MTV and who had been working out of Nalini & Yasmin but looking to start her own salon. A few years before the first salon ever opened, I remember feeling so done with hairdressing and totally discontent with the industry as a whole. Amidst contemplating ways of manoeuvring myself to London, a hairdresser friend told me about Od and her plans. It wasn't too long after, that I was connected to her through Farhan who was then working towards Dil Chahta Hai. Adhuna Bhabani: Of course I remember being immediately drawn to Avan; she was the only short-haired woman at the party. It was rare those days, finding someone who wore a short crop and was happily flaunting it. I found it a compulsion to speak to anyone with short hair to find out where they'd got their hair cut. That when it all began. Avan Contractor: I asked her when she would like me to join and she said Tomorrow!!! The rest as you know better is BBLUNT history.
2. What evolved in this professional relationship? Avan Contractor: I had not been hairdressing full time having taken a sabbatical for a year and a half. I remember my 6-month complete fast-track in technique-training and familiarising myself with all of Ods new techniques. Right from the word go, ours has always been a professional relationship with a deep-rooted personal bond that goes hand in hand. Adhuna Bhabani: It's true. With Avan and me, we're family and you can't separate one from the other. We've learnt a lot from each other over the years and still continue to; we have a tremendous amount of trust in each other. These two aspects contribute so much to the environment we create at work for ourselves and our team.
3. Are you both partners in business? Adhuna Bhabani: Yes, we are and as any smart business person would do, we always draw on the strengths of the other in a situation. Avan is much more meticulous than me, whereas I am a lot more spontaneous. We draw on those aspects when and where required.
4. What's common and distinctive about your styles? Avan Contractor: Od and I have very similar tastes in aesthetics. How we finally reach the vision though, may be different, as our approach may be different. Whilst Od is fluid, I am more textbook. When the two of us work together on a project, it's our teamwork that stands out and we draw this from each other. We share the same vision of the craft, hairstyling as a profession and how business is conducted within the industry. Adhuna Bhabani: Were both passionate about each and every hair on the head. We both understand that educating and growing the team is crucial for the overall growth of the brand and don't believe that either of us will ever compromise on quality and training.
5. What's the journey been like and milestones? Adhuna Bhabani: Everything has been a milestone - From opening our first business together to winning hairdressing awards, from opening branch no.2 onto 17 and from our first Bollywood hairstyling debut, to the 50 + films that followed after. The setting up of our academy has by far been one of our biggest milestones, crucial to helping us expand and enabling us to achieve goals that we had set ourselves before we even started any of it all. Our primary goal had always been to create an army of hairdressers who are open and honest in the work that they do, and we have!! As hairdressers, we admired Vidal Sassoon and another one of our goals was to take the best aspects of what we've learned from them and create that for ourselves in India. The bigger more challenging dream, however, for Osh, Avan and I was to create our line of products and our partnership with Godrej made that come to be!
6. What made you'll get into the product business? How much of a say did you have in product formulation etc.? Adhuna Bhabani: BBBLUNTs bigger and more challenging dream; and I speak for all partners involved; was to create a line of products especially for Indian hair; as Indian hair is very different; and keeping in mind our Indian climate too. Our partnership with Godrej made that dream a possibility. We work closely with a dedicated R&D, Design and Marketing team at Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. and are involved in every step of the way from the inception of the idea to the formulation, design development, packaging, testing, communication and each product launch. Today our range of products caters to every hair type, texture and scalp-specific need, covering care and styling for both men and women. We paid close attention to consumer need gaps within the category and designed and developed products that were the need of the hour even covering consumers on the go.
7. With Godrej taking on the brand (percentage stakes please?) does the vision get broadened or stifled? Adhuna Bhabani: It definitely gets broadened. Given the position that we were at and our expansion plans, I think we've accomplished a lot more in such a short time from this setting. We may have been industry experts when it came to hair and styling, but creating a line of products called for a lot more. We needed to partner with someone with experience in areas where we didn't have any. Already an FMCG forerunner, we needed to partner with experts in the field of product development and retail. Godrej as a brand embodied trust, consistently living up to its brand promise to its consumers. Armed with brand equity built by its communication and products, it was an easy first choice.
8. Movies - which experiences would you like to recount from drawing board to actual? Avan Contractor: From the recent work that we've done, we would have to pick Dil Dhadakne Do. The reason stands out is because we feel that individually and as a team were able to translate our vision on screen, its vast cast making this achievable. We believe we've come a long way since we first began, almost breaking the traditional mould of hairstyling in Bollywood with Dil Chahta Hai. It put BBLUNT on the map and since then we've moved from just Od and me to a whole battalion of like-minded, enthusiastic, thoroughly capable and talented stylists called The Shoot Crew. Whilst we design the looks, they're the ones responsible for all the groundwork, creating some of Bollywood's iconic styles that you see on screen.
9. Where do the two of you see yourselves in the next 5 years? Adhuna Bhabani / Avan Contractor: Our main aim really is to expand our business and develop our team each salon individually, as a company and also as individuals in our team. Collectively the vision of all our directors at BBLUNT would be to grow the company to its maximum potential which includes the growth of individual team members, individual franchisees, individual salons, academies exponentially without ever having to compromise on quality. In 5 years time we will perhaps see ourselves with more salons, a larger product range; were already working on that so watch this space; and of course, going global. We would like to see ourselves as a globally recognised brand on par with international standards and maybe even exceeding them. Together with Godrej, as a team, we are extremely conscious of how our work impacts the environment. Our future plan incorporates a conscious effort towards reducing the carbon footprint.
10. What are the few things you would advise similarly positioned creative minds doing business together? Adhuna Bhabani: Partner with, hire or work with somebody that you can trust and has different strengths than you. Then make sure that everybody involved in the partnership is contributing to each of their strengths. For eg., Avan and I come from a creative background, technically sound in hairdressing not necessarily so in business. It is also important for all partners to bring in something to grow and develop the business with the same vision.