Avan Contractor is one hairstylist who can create a radical new look, every time she works on a client. Remember Aamir Khan is Dil Chahta Hai or Taare Zameen Par? In conversation with Joyoti Mahanta, the trendsetter talks about her passion for hairdressing and how it catapulted her into becoming one of the leading hairstylists in the country today
Back in the 1980s. The beauty industry was almost non-existent in India. There weren’t many big salons, and women mostly worked out of their homes or went from house to house to cut hair.In Dadar-Parsi Colony, Mumbai, was a little girl who relished her regular visits to the local hairdresser for her haircut so much so that she knew this was the field she wanted to be a part of. “The whole experience of visiting a salon and getting a new look is what excited me. The hairdressers were mostly ex-Air India air hostesses who had done short courses at Sassoon Academy. London, This way,I was exposted to the Sassoon way of hairdressing and it had always been my dream to study at the academy and start my career from there. However, I went there much later in my career,” reveals Avan.
THE EARLY DAYS
Avan wanted to pursue hairdressing right after school in 1988. “My parents wanted me to get a degree.” So she did just that. After her degree in literature from Jai Hind College. Mumbai , she pursued a six-month hair and beauty course Soon after, she applied for a job at Scissor Over Comb, “because it was dared to try trendy hairdos back in the day.” Avan admits.
“I traned under Anuradha Yusuf for six months and that’s when I realised that the course I had done was outdated and I had to unlearn most of the skills. Anu was trained at Sassoon too and I got familarised with the work ethos. So you can see that Vidal Sassoon has had a major influence in the basics of hairdressing and this stint was an excellent educational stepping stone to the real working world of a hairdresses. However, not everything was reachy. “The salon environment disillusioned me. I was new and inexperienced, and there were certain hairstylists who made my life a nightmare with constant poaching of clients.This shook my confidence and Iquit hairdressing for a couple of years,” She says. During her sabbatical. She dabbled in makeup and advertising, but always yearned to go to London and purue her formal hairdressing course from Sassoon academy.She wanted to work in London, as the hairdressing industry there is more conducive for budding professionals.
“I was looking for a creative space where hairdressing could be fun and I could be a team player.During my stint in advertising, I met Adhuna, who brought with her a hairdressing culture and approach that was lacking in the Indian hair space,” she explains. When Adhuna opened her salon in Mumbai, she touched base with Avan and it lead to a partnership that has flourished for over 17 years. “I was thrilled to be working with someone who had a vision that I had perceived. We have grown together and have developed the brand along the way. She also helped me brush up on my technical skills and was friendly mentor. I finally went to Sassoon Academy in 1997 and a few times after that – leaning keeps me going.”
BRAND BUILDING Hairdressing isn’t all about snipping, straightening and colouring tresses. There weren’t too any schools and not everybody could afford to go out of the country to learn hair and beauty. “Adhuna and I have always believed that for a brand to be successful, you need to invent in your staff. Nobody wants to be stagnant in a company. With this natural progression in mind, we started the BBLUNT academy as it seemed like an organic option,” Says Avan.