Friday, December 14, 2007

Young Achiever: Trimmed for success

Young Achiever: Trimmed for success
Malini Sen,TNN

Hair designer Sumit Israni tells how he fought social taboos to pursue his choice of profession.

"Don't judge me by my age but my work," says hair designer Sumit Israni. At 27, he has a long list of awards and achievements to his credit. And after successfully managing a hair salon and hair lounge, his family and friends are finally taking him seriously.

From school itself Sumit has been passionate about the business of hair. And in class XII, when he won the 'Best Colourist Award' sponsored by L'Oreal, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in the same. But that was the easy part. "It was tough convincing my family. Like any other Indian family, they looked no further than an MBA or engineering degree. It was taboo for a son to be a barber! So, I struck a deal with them. I would do what they wanted and they would give me a chance to prove my mettle."

Sumit completed his BCom through correspondence while he went to Paris for training. He also appeared for the usual 'Indian-son pre-requisite examinations' – CAT and MAT. After his 18-month training, he joined Toni & Guy in London following a test as a junior stylist. It took him under two years to become the style director. "When I first joined, I did everything from shampooing to laundry. My fingers itched to hold the scissors, but I waited and watched, knowing my chance would come. Eventually my perseverance paid off."

He has also been trained by Vidal Sassoon and Guy Kremer. Sumit has bagged some of the top awards in the field, including L'Oreal People's Award for Best Hairdresser, Asian Hairdresser of the Year, and so on. Besides having done cover pages for Elle and Cosmopolitan, Sumit is a member of the Board of Directors of CHF (Creative Hairdresser Forum) and the international Intercoiffure Mondial (ICD), a consortium of the world's best hair dressers. Further, this brand ambassador for L'Oreal is also a guest faculty at NIFT.

Friends, who earlier had to think twice about how to introduce him, now wait to get an appointment; his diary is always booked. Today, with an increasing number of people becoming conscious of their looks, the hair industry offers lucrative career opportunities. "It is a very personalised service; you have to create a different style for every client. When I recruit my staff, my first question is whether they are passionate about hair or not," says Sumit, who adds that a good hair stylist can make nearly Rs 70,000 per-month. There is another form of gratification as well. "When I make an 80-year-old look like a queen, the smile on her face is my biggest reward."

And leaving no place for complacency, Sumit travels overseas every three months to upgrade his skills. He is also opening a hair academy next summer to train aspirants who share his passion. "I have faced my share of contempt so I want to pave the way for youngsters so they can enjoy their share of respect in this field."

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