Beauty entrepreneur Shobha Tummala runs three hugely successful salons in New York city tending to clients’ brow-shaping and hair removal needs in warm, luxe environments. With a background in electrical engineering, she tells us how her business, Shobha, came to be and what distinguishes her services from others.
When you were at Harvard Business School, did you know that you wanted to start your own beauty business?
No. I always wanted to start my own business, but never knew it would be in the beauty business. I actually thought it would be in the tech world given my electrical engineering background.
Why this particular line of work?
I literally kind of fell in to it. I was working at a tech startup when I had two horrible hair removal experiences. In one, I had my full body waxed next to another woman that was getting waxed, and we were only separated by a small screen. No door, no curtain, nothing. In the other, I had to wait while the person who was going to thread me finished her lunch and then came to thread me without washing her hands. I was sick of being a regular hair removal client and with no place to go that would cater to folks like me. I would usually go to nail salons to get my waxing done and then go to a hole in the wall to get my threading done. I wanted a place that took hair removal seriously, and offered all the treatments under one roof so I wouldn’t have to go to two different places, where they upheld hygiene requirements and had quality standards for their establishment and their specialists.
What are the key differences in the Shobha approach compared to other methods of hair removal and skin treatments?
We have created signature processes for each and every one of our treatments. For the face, we offer threading and sugaring (except for the brows--that’s our threading-only zone), and for the body we perform sugaring and waxing. The process side of our treatments really comes from my electrical engineering background. I firmly believe treatments should be methodical--and once trained, be like driving a car, simple and effective each time.
Whether it's a brow makeover or a Brazilian bikini wax, we make an everyday necessity into a luxurious experience, instead of some add-on service in the back room of a nail salon. Our clients actually get excited to come in for hair removal and love how they feel when they leave--confident and sexy. Our salons are bright and cheery, our team is fun and professional to round out the quick and methodical technical side of our services for the best results. Every time. It's amazing what a little hair removal can do to boost your day!
We created our own products when we couldn’t find any on the market that were not only effective, but also made with natural and safe ingredients. Our sugaring gel, which offers a natural alternative to waxing, is made of sugar, lemon juice, water and glycerin. Translation? It's edible! So we not only remove hair with it, we also make drinks with it--like our Shobharita, our take on the traditional margarita, to drive home the fact that the products you put on your body are just as important as the food you put in your body. Now, our product collection ranges from the professional products we use during each of our treatments to a growing line of products to maintain smooth, bump-free skin after you leave the salon, and even kits to perform your own treatments at home.
Tell us about your new partnership with the Trump Spa in SoHo.
It seemed like a natural fit from the get-go, since the Trump brand values the same high standards in client care that we do in our salons. he Spa at Trump SoHo is a beautiful space, with upscale treatments like Turkish hammam body scrubs and Kate Sommerville facials, so we were thrilled to be able to raise the bar on hair removal treatments. Hair removal is a beauty necessity that is valued for its effectiveness, now we are proving that it can be just as luxurious an experience as other spa treatments like massages and facials.
Tell us something surprising about yourself that your clients might be intrigued to know.
My family and I, including my very active and inquisitive two-year-old son, reside in Maryland, while my other babies--my three salons, product line and my awesome team--live in New York.
For locations and more information on Shobha, visit the website.
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