Cashing on Beauty
She enjoyed cutting everyone’s hair and experimenting facials on her mother’s face. Powered with self-belief, she started off in 1989 with a small centre in Delhi. Few had envisaged then that more than one and a half decade later, she would be the queen o
She enjoyed cutting everyone’s hair and experimenting facials on her mother’s face. Powered with self-belief, she started off in 1989 with a small centre in Delhi. Few had envisaged then that more than one and a half decade later, she would be the queen of the wellness industry in India. Today with over 225 outlets across 75 cities, Vandana Luthra Curles and Curves has acquired the status of India’s largest health and beauty brand. Meet, Vandana Luthra, a name to reckon with.
Taslima Khan (TK): What prompted you to venture into this business? How is the response of Indian customers?
Vandana Luthra (VL): After my education in nutrition and cosmetology from Germany, I wanted to give a shape to my learning. VLCC is a culmination of my vision to make health and beauty accessible to all segments of the society. I started with our first VLCC Centre to deliver slimming, skin and hair solutions in Safdarjang Enclave in New Delhi in 1989. It is indeed most gratifying that today, while we continue to operate from Safdarjang Enclave, VLCC is also present in 225 locations across over 75 cities in India, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Nepal. The response has been overwhelming and today VLCC has more than 10 million satisfied customers who are a testimony of it.
(TK): What was your earlier occupation prior to VLCC?
(VL): Before I started, VLCC I was completing my education.
(TK): What are the biggest hurdles you have faced as an entrepreneur?
(VL): I feel, at some level, a business enterprise started by a woman is initially looked at as an extension of her hobby. I needed to be twice as persistent and assertive before I could convince not just the skeptics but also people at large that what I had taken up was a viable and sustainable product concept. Then there was this whole issue of whether what had been created was a sustainable business model, capable of being scaled up or not. Since the concept was new and not well known, procuring finance to further the business was a problem.
(TK): Which class of consumers do you usually target? What kind of locations do you prefer for VLCC outlets?
(VL): The reason why I started VLCC was to make health and beauty accessible to all. So my transformation center is open to everyone who needs any slimming, skin and hair related solution.
Most of our centres are located just off the high street, close to residential communities or in community centres within residential colonies.
(TK): What is your business expansion plan in India and abroad?
(VL): VLCC currently has a presence in nearly 225 locations across over 75 cities in India, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Nepal. Over the next two years we expect to be present in all the GCC countries, including Qatar, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as also some other countries in the MENA region, including Egypt. In addition, on the domestic front we will continue our geographic penetration through the franchisee route (currently more than 90% of our VLCC Centres are company-owned and managed). In addition, we will continue to widen the distribution of our VLCC Personal Care line of skin, hair and body-care products which are currently retailed not just through our VLCC Centres but also through over 25,000 outlets in India and overseas. In fact, we have recently launched these products in the UAE retail market and will soon be doing the same in Oman.
(TK): What is the current potential of the wellness segment in the Indian retail sector?
(VL): As per the E&Y report on the wellness sector in India released as recently as in April 2009, the size of the industry has been pegged at a whopping Rs. 11,000 crores. That in itself gives an indication of the emerging importance of this segment.
(TK): Where do you foresee VLCC after 5 years?
(VL): We expect to be more than triple our current size, with a large international footprint, while continuing to retain our current status as the most preferred wellness brand in India.
(TK): What is your advice to upcoming entrepreneurs?
(VL): Set your goal and work towards it. Also ensure that you follow ethical and best-in-class service and product standards. There is no stopping anyone from reaching the pinnacle of success, if there is firm commitment and dedication on these aspects.
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