Vaijayanti Bhalchandra, Co-Founder & CTO, YLG Salon & YLG Institut

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Vaijayanti Bhalchandra, a serial entrepreneur & Pioneer in the Beauty & Salon industry has been
instrumental in transforming the Indian Salon industry with many firsts delivered for the industry – organised operations, upfront commitment to upgrading vocational skill
education, upgrading India’s waxing experience, creating new international looks every year,
India’s 1st Organised home services, Bringing hygiene to the fore for services to every skincare
customer by the shift to single use kits instead of bulk packing, using technology to personalise every customer interaction and providing top quality training with no charges to over 7,000
stylists and beauticians.

She is the co-founder of the Bangalore based YLG (You Look Great!) Salons, which operates over 50 salons and is Bangalore’s favourite salon chain & has been bestowed with many awards, latest being Entrepreneur of the Year – at the MSME India Business awards by National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), and the prestigious ‘Mahatma Gandhi Samman’ at the Global Achievers Conclave at Westminster Palace, UK Parliament, London in 2018.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey (personal & professional) and when you get
started on it.

As a middle-class, non-metropolitan city-raised girl, our entrepreneurial journey started with
two thoughts: the desire to make a difference for less privileged women and the certainty that the
path may not always be smooth but fulfilling in the long run. We were fortunate that investors
saw this field as an opportunity, as we were able to convert by raising institutional funding to
make our dream a reality.

The first year was a steep learning curve that included curating a beauty and hairdressing curriculum inspired by the best available globally, setting up our supply chain, inventory
management, and learning about professional products, services and purchasing.

Knowing what the brand stands for and our promise to our customers and employees, we continue to hold on to those values throughout our journey. Our commitment to building the brand based on top-quality vocational education led us to launch the YLG academy ahead of the
first salon, and has helped us to retain our service quality and customer base.

As a woman, have you faced challenges starting/running a business? Kindly elaborate.

The core design of YLG was to build an organization that recognizes and values women for their skills and insights. Personally, the challenge has been to instill a sense of pride in my students about their profession and the fantastic industry they have chosen to be part of.

What are the services that you offer your customers?

At YLG, we offer high-quality products and services from across the globe at a great price across all our outlets. To ensure we meet our goal, we have built strong processes, training infrastructures, state-of-the-art technology, and a supply chain that enable us to offer unique services to our customers across multiple categories: waxing, facials, and hair spas.

What is the future plan of your business?

YLG will continue to build on its core customer promise of delivering consistently high-quality services and products. Going ahead, we will co-opt franchisee partners towards growth.

What according to you is the advancement in this industry in terms of technology? Do you think adapting to advanced technologies has brought you to this elite position?

The industry has been a trial ground for multiple technologies, ranging from image sensing, and medical diagnostic tools to analyzing and prescribing treatments, products and business management software to name a few. The success of these advanced technologies is to deploy personalization, which allows the therapist or stylist to enhance the customer’s experience while catering to their needs. Regardless, the role of the technical expert cannot be understated as customers are looking for hands-on experience, and no technology is likely to replace that for the
foreseeable future.

Why do you think there is less contribution of women entrepreneurship in India?

This is rapidly changing as there are a number of role models for women to emulate, and more women will want to be entrepreneurs. The fact is that women generally have great expertise in engaging at an intellectual as well as emotional level, making them better people managers; this is the crux of success as an entrepreneur.

In India, there is a wave of startups. The percentage of women startups in India is low. According to you, what challenges are they facing?

I believe the term startups is used in a narrow sense. The oft-used expression of startups seems limited to a venture funded by some institutional or angel investor. On this metric, women entrepreneurs are a minority, as these institutions tend to be male-centric at decision-making levels and are more comfortable dealing with men. The first challenge, therefore, is formal funding.

I find that women entrepreneurs tend to dominate informal, unorganized enterprises. Our industry is a classic example of women running lakhs of enterprises successfully across India with little or no institutional support.

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