She’s lived, slept and breathed hairstyling since 14, and unsurprisingly, started one of India’s most iconic salon chains: BBlunt’s Adhuna Bhabani
Now 48, Bhabani has come a long way from being a 14-year-old apprentice hairdresser in the UK, which was a summer gig she took up after she started accompanying her mother to the salon and found herself transfixed by the process. She maintains that she has known since then, that she wanted to be a hairstylist.
Bhabani honed her fashion skills in the UK till she was 25. “I remember the first time I got paid, back in ’92 — my salary was just £25 a week — at a salon in England, where I worked at that time. But I got my first break at 17, when I was awarded the junior champion award for hairdressing at a national competition. The euphoric feeling that award left me with made me realise that I have chosen the right profession for myself and I decided to strive harder to become the best in my field.”
At this point, Bhabani decided to move to India along with her brother Osh Bhabani with the sole motive of becoming a name to reckon with in the world of hairstyling. However, it was not that easy to break into a new market. Bhabani persevered and worked as a freelancer at salons for three years before opening a salon named Juice in 1998.
Bhabani also took on Bollywood projects, and worked on the coming-of-age hit Dil Chahta Hai — directed by her then husband Farhan Akhtar — in 2001. Learning from the mistakes and successes that they encountered at Juice, Bhabani and her brother set up BBlunt [B stands for Bhabani] in 2004.
India, however, is a land known for beautiful, long tresses and nobody wanted to do something out-of-the-box. So, initially, they faced a lot of resistance. “But, over the years, we learned how to approach people and we always tried something new for our customers in terms of style,” she says.
The big inflection point for the chain came when Godrej Consumer Products bought a 30% stake in BBlunt. Godrej perceived an opportunity to offer a ‘mass premium’ brand through the salon chain. Currently, BBlunt has 17 outlets: 16 across India and one in Dubai. As far as competition from local and international brands is concerned, Bhabani is not too worried about it. “We tend to concentrate on ourselves and not worry too much about the competition. If you look at other countries around the world, India has a long way to go before we are anywhere near saturation in terms of salons,” she says.