A decade ago, hairstyling meant spending hours figuring out a neat haircut for yourself, going to your friendly, neighbourhood ‘parlour’ and asking the hairdresser to follow your instructions. Cut to today, when I walk into B:Blunt, a salon in the tony south Mumbai locality of Kemps Corner. The hairdresser at the minimalistic outlet greets me with a friendly smile, seats me on a high chair and gets to work. Minutes later, I have an edgy yet extremely flattering haircut, without having to intervene or interrupt the hairdresser’s work. This flawless process is thanks to the salon chain’s founder Adhuna Akhtar, given that her focus from the time her first salon opened in 2004 has been to provide a great experience to the consumer.
Now 48 years old, Akhtar has come a long way from being a 14-year-old apprentice hairdresser in the UK. Prompt her to talk about how her passion for hairdressing kicked off and Akhtar says, “It all started in England, when I was in school. I used to go to various salons with my mother during the holidays.” Born and brought up in the UK, that is also where Akhtar honed her fashion skills till she was 25. She had debuted much earlier as a teenager.
“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, Akhtar 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. Akhtar persevered and worked as a freelancer at salons. She worked as a guest stylist at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai and joined L’Oréal Professionnel in 1996. The experience she amassed over these years led to her and Bhabani opening a salon named Juice in 1998. “Initially, the whole thing was a struggle. But we decided that we ne