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In conversation with the prodigal daughter of Shahnaz Husain


In conversation with the prodigal daughter of Shahnaz HusainNelofar Husain Currimbhoy, the daughter of beauty czarina Shahnaz Husain, says she was named after the Princess of Hyderabad. That's quite apt, for like her namesake, Nelofar too is the heiress of an iconic legacy. 

Known widely for her interest in Research and development, Nelofar Husain plays a significant role in the success of Shahnaz Herbals. She carries with ease the credit of creating the 24-carat Gold Range which is the company's highest seller today. As the head of the marketing and distribution network, Nelofar wishes to make full use of technology in the business expansion of Shahnaz Herbals.

In an exclusive chat with us, Nelofar tells us how it is being the daughter of a legend; her dreams that are different from her mother's; and where is the skincare industry heading in India and more...

Excerpts...

How would you define beauty? How does your perception of 'beauty' differs from that of your mother's, the beauty czarina - Shahnaz Husain?

I think that 'beauty' starts from within even though we have such a fascinating range of beauty aids and enhancement techniques, today -- yet the canvas matters. I believe, beauty is beyond just your face or hair, it is the aura you carry around yourself. I feel that perhaps I am more spiritual than my mother about its attainment. I am more holistic in my approach. We live in times where I constantly meet young girls who come in with dehydrated skins and dark circles under their eyes because of deficient diets, work pressure and late nights. I always make them aware of two prerequisites to beauty: to love yourself and to treat yourself with respect and care. That commitment needs to be there. Creating a beauty and well-being plan that includes exercise, meditation along with skin and hair-care gives you amazing and long lasting results.

Please elaborate on your role in Shahnaz Herbals. From creating the 24-carat Gold Range to the Pearl Whitening Range; what are your plans for Shahnaz Herbals?

I am the President of the company and I handle the national distribution and marketing network of our huge range of products. Research and Development is my forte and I just have a great sense with creating products that the market needs. I would like to work on strengthening our franchise network and create a wider spread for the company's treatment lines.

Is fairness still a big deal in India? Does it continue to being considered the ideal skin complexion?

I think the urban mind today does not care about issues like fairness. In my opinion, dusky skin colour is definitely more appealing. That said, the ideal skin complexion is the one you have, as long as you keep it looking healthy and love it. People see you the way you see yourself. Beauty is also often a perception created by icons. It would be great to see more dusky skins on the ramps and I think the fashion industry can do a lot towards this. When you go to small towns 'fairness' is an issue but skin colour is more a social issue than an aesthetic one and it will take time and modernity for urban attitudes to percolate to traditional India. My reason for researching and creating a fairness cream is not to propagate the idea that fair is beautiful but to give a natural alternative to girls who load their faces with damaging chemicals in the pursuit to become fairer.

Do you face a lot of pressure when you think about carrying on the legacy of a legendary mother? How do you handle the comparisons made?

It is a privilege to be compared to my mother. I feel we are both individuals with distinct strengths that has lead us ahead. As for the future, honestly, I am so well trained and equipped to carry on and handle the legacy that my mother created that I feel no sense of pressure. Yes, I do feel the pressure to work as diligently as possible. My mother pioneered the company in a very different environment. For her it was an amazing feat to break through the 'glass ceiling' and boundaries around women of her time and become an iconic businesswoman. In the future, I will need to carry forward the company in a highly professional and competitive environment. The challenge for me is equally tough. Excellence today is taken for granted and the consumer is extremely aware and well-informed. Being a writer, I have a personal motto within the company that I believe in. 'When the future comes, you should already be there.' My challenge is taking on this amazing future and I am excited about it.

How different or similar are you from your mother when it comes to creating beauty range products, cosmetics and such like? For instance, both you and your mother prefer going natural over resorting to synthetic methods. Are there any difference of opinions too?

I think my mother and I differ hugely in our work styles and that's how we complement each other, but as far as product development is concerned essentially we both remain completely committed to nature. That is the binding force between us and between the company and the consumer as well. As far as creating new products is concerned I am very receptive to moving trends of consumers.

A brief description of your future projects.

The future as it stands now for me is a turning point -- very interesting and exciting. It's going to define my role in the beauty industry, though I have done some path-breaking work in research and development, it is now that I am getting recognised for it. My evolution as a professional has been the strongest in the past few years. Strangely it was my aptitude as a writer that brought me recognition. My interests are multidimensional and now I am trying to merge them by doing a series of books on beauty. I have been speaking at several management schools and I would love to do a lot more of that. I am working on a range purely for the new emerging urban Indian woman and a separate one for men. I think products need to be time-saving, convenient and should fulfill multiple purposes.
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