Pakistani entrepreneur and stylist Shammal Qureshi embarked on a journey to bring the tremendously successful global hairdressing brand Toni&Guy to Lahore, Pakistan. Combining his style sensibility and street smarts, Shammal enrolled himself in London’s fashion-pulsing Toni&Guy Training Academy and hasn’t looked back since.
The road from well-heeled salon owner to Creative Director of Toni&Guy Lahore and CEO of Toni&Guy North Pakistan was a short one for Shammal; he launched his first salon in 2009 daring to compete with some of the regions most established home-grown legacy brands.
Armed with a vision and a natural knack for marketing, the business quickly captured market share and is now one of the most successful international beauty industry franchise models in the country, it boasts 6 locations across Lahore and Islamabad and a Professional Training Academy to match!
Today Shammal Qureshi talks to 1947 entertainment & lifestyle about career, ambition, and challenges.
1. What is the backstory of the creation of Toni & Guy in Pakistan?
I wanted to bring a new, international standard of hairdressing to Pakistan. Toni&Guy is synonymous with style, fashion and confidence; something I felt was severely lacking in Pakistan. I also opened The Academy with the approval from Toni Mascolo himself. I knew it was important to create a new generation of stylists in order to main the high standards that are indicative of Toni&Guy International. The Academy goes hand in hand with our salons. It’s the heartbeat of the company as it’s where we train our own staff on a very regular basis.
2. How many staff members do you have now across the board?
Currently, Toni&Guy North Pakistan has a little over 200 plus employees.
3. What are some of the challenges you faced in the beginning?
When you take any risk in life, there will always be people who will advise against it. The challenge was keeping focus in what I believed in and see it through.
4. Are there any aspects of the business that you enjoy more than others?
I enjoy all aspects of it, to be honest. It’s a very sociable industry. You’re chatting to clients and staff daily. You’re watching the latest trends and interpreting them to fit your market. You’re constantly thinking of ways to improve what you’re doing whether it’s a haircut or a technique to show staff.
But I particularly enjoy seeing The Academy thrive and buzzing with students. It makes me extremely happy to see new students come and learn skills that will support them the rest of their lives. What do I not enjoy? The HR process can be tough. When you have staff you’ve known and taught for years, it’s hard to draw a line under some relationships without feeling sad.
Stay focused. Don’t give up and don’t compromise on your standards.
I have a great marketing team who essentially run the office. I’m out so much between clients, meetings and visiting salons that I don’t sit in one space for too long. My office is run of Gmail calendar and phone calls!
6. Short-term goals or long-term goals – which take precedence for you?
Both. Short term goals are what help you attain the long-term goals. You can’t have one without the other.
7. What is one of the proudest moments of your career so far?
Opening the Academy. It was a tough job convincing Toni Mascolo to let me take his training academy to Pakistan. It’s where the foundations of the entire brand culture are laid. I was essentially asking him to trust me blindly and I’m eternally grateful that he gave me his blessing to do it.
8. What advice would you offer to anyone trying to start-up a business?
Have an end-game in sight. Focus. Know there will be times where you wonder what the hell you were thinking. And when things get rough, put your head down and keep walking.
9. Is there anything you would have done differently looking back?
Actually no. I’m genuinely grateful for the difficulties I’ve faced because without challenge you don’t grow.
10. Moving forward, what’s on the horizon for you?
On the horizon, we will be opening more salons in 2018 & potentially we will have a UK team of trainers in Pakistan for the first time ever. I’m looking forward to another hectic, manic and fun-filled year!
To learn more about Toni&Guy North Pakistan click here.