The thing about Mumbai is that it is very attractive, with all this folly’s, its still the most appealing city in the country. Which makes one thing a tad bit difficult to achieve, space! And incidently, lack of space has been one of the guiding factors in my life towards the art of hairstyling. Heres my story..
I grew up in a tiny 1 bhk house in worli. When I was entering my 2nd standard, I discovered that I had been enrolled into a boarding school in Bangalore. I was shattered. I wept through most nights in the hostel but thankfully within a year, my parents brought me back home, although home was kind of different. I had a room of my own! My parents had constructed a loft above the hall and kitchen, making a small room for me to share with my brother. The outer wall of the room was half open, overlooking what used to be the living room, but now had become a hair salon.
My mother had studied hair while we were away and had converted the living room of my house into a salon! Well needless to say that it was a big shock for me. But over time I kind of got used to it. In fact I would spend long hours sitting at the side of my bed with my elbows on the partition overlooking the salon. It was a whole new world for me, watching women come into the door looking all messy and leaving looking shiny and new. Sub-consciously I started to enjoy the world of beauty.
Many years went by, I was heavily into sports, chess and snooker, while my mothers salon ran successfully in Worli and then in Andheri, after we moved there in 1995. I was a pretty decent student, graduated from H.R College and started to do my MBA. Since I was becoming my own man and no longer followed his dictates, my father and I had some arguments and difference of opinions that year. On one such occasion, the argument got out of hand and my father thought it would be best if I would leave his place and find my own space in the city.
That’s easier said than done. Especially when you don’t have a pay check while you have college fees to pay. So I quit my education, found a job and a small space to share for Rs. 2500 a month. After a few hard core jobs of sleeping 5 hours and working 19. I realized that I needed to do something more fun in my life while still being able to earn a good living.
That is when it hit me. I could be a hairstylist! I had grown up watching it, I had tried my hand at it at my mother’s salon. I seemed to have a flair for it…
It was time to get an education! So I joined Juice academy. Back then it was the best place to learn hairdressing from in Mumbai. And just before finishing my course I was offered a job by my trainer at her new to-be opened salon called ‘Under the Tree’. She had offered me a stylist’s position, skipping the assistant’s position. I lapped it up!
The next few years were magic, you know how when you have made the right decisions, the universe super-supports you. That’s what happened. I soared through the world of hairdressing, getting one hit after another with clients and learning more and more about making people beautiful. 2 years into the industry and I got offered a job to teach at the prestigious International L’Oreal Academy in Khar. There I got trained by one of the finest hairstylists I have met called Caroline Lannuzel. She had been flown in by L’Oreal Paris to setup the academy in India. It was such a pleasure and mind opening experience. After a hard day’s work would we would listen to Bob Marley and smoke one on the terrace.
While I was teaching in the academy, I got offered a film to style for. It was going to be shot in Cape Town – South Africa! I was torn. I loved the academy and my students, but at the same time 2 months in Cape Town and styling for the stars was an offer I just couldn’t refuse. So I spoke to Caroline and she was gracious enough to let me go fulfil my destiny.
Everything in life happens for a good reason. Sometimes those reasons are clear straight away and sometimes it takes a while for you to see why it happened. But there’s always a good reason.
So my bags were packed and I was on the airplane en-route Cape Town. I was flying high. Sunil Shetty, Zayed Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Shamita Shetty, I was going to style their hair. It was super exciting.
On returning to India, I found that I was invited to a birthday party of one of the actors, there he found it rather amusing to throw me into the swimming pool with my cell phone in my pocket. I was livid. I asked him to replace my phone and walked out of there. The next morning I got a call from my boss, telling me that I am fired from my job.
That’s when I decided I was not going to work for anyone else again. I was going to build my own enterprise and make my own niche in this world. Not dependent on anyone else’s mercy and certainly not on any actors ego.
Thats when RikOshé took birth.
One chair in the corner of my mother’s ladies hair salon now suddenly becomes unisex. In the beginning it’s really slow, but slowly starts picking up and after a year the entire salon becomes unisex.
With no marketing, advertising or any outreach, television starts like Aishwaria Sakhuja of Saas bina sasural and Main na bhoolungi, and movie stars like Kajal Aggarwal of Singham and Special 26 come to me after hearing from their friends that my work is good. One day Nagesh Kukunoor walks in.
As clichéd as it may sound, it’s such a thrill to do a famous persons hair, knowing that so many people are going to see it and appreciate your work.
It’s that look in the client’s eye, after she has seen herself get transformed, like a mixture of disbelief and gratitude that keeps me going. It’s my elixir.
I slowly started to discover that cutting someone’s hair not only brings about a change in the way the person looks, but also in the way a person feels.
I love meeting people, getting to know them- like really getting to know people. Not just what they do and where they work and what they drive. But what drives them, what they love, how they see the world. Each one of us is so different, like we’re made out of the same mud, but shaped in our own unique ways. As a hairstylist I like to accentuate that unique individuality of the person. Bring it to life. Shout it from the rooftop or rather show it at the face-top.
- With Love Rikhil Asrani
You can find RikOshé Salon and Academy, Near Costa Coffee, Off New Link Road, Near Infiniti Mall, Andheri – West, Mumbai – 400053. Coming Soon in the first week of June.
Rikhil Asrani is a famous and talented hair stylist and a true Mumbaikar! Thank you Rikhil for sharing your story with us and we wish your new salon RikOshé, all the best and may all the stars keep dropping by there!