Building a hair-styling enterprise in 2020: ft. Shaun Fanaeian

Updated: Jun 23

Hair. What’s the purpose of hair? Technically speaking, the primary function of hair is to provide warmth, protection and sensory reception. But do people even care about what the technical purpose is? Well, not unless you’re a polar bear living in the Arctic.

Photo by Karina Carvalho on Unsplash


In 2020, if you were to pose the question ‘why is hair important’, you might get a totally different answer. ‘Hair is an expression of who I am, it enhances my personality and beauty, it suits my lifestyle and profession', and so on. There is a certain degree of truth to that, given how much importance our society places on physical appearances.


Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

The hair-styling industry has been growing rapidly over the past 20 years. A recent report by Grand View Research revealed that the global hair care market is on track of being valued at over $210 billion by 2025, due to increasing demand for hair products, hair-styling services, and high social media usage (Inc., 2018).


But is this figure enough to justify hair-styling as a sustainable career path? Is it feasible, profitable and desirable to start a business that provides market level, premium hair-styling services? Our guest today would agree, as he developed what was a hobby at first, into a full-scale business...all while being a student.


Things are changing, and for the better. As the great Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson once famously said ‘It all starts here... with these two hands’.


Background


If you live in the west, you’d know that haircare, beauty and salon services can get fairly expensive, especially if you’re from an Asian country. For our guest however, this situation appeared to a lucrative opportunity. Founded in 2012, his brand Fanaeian’s Hair and Skin has a strong customer base and a rapidly increasing online presence. I'm pleased to welcome our very first student guest on The Modern Z- Shaun Fanaeian.


Akash:

"So to start off, I'd like you to introduce yourself. Who is Shaun Fanaeian? What is Fanaeian's Hair and Skin all about?"


Shaun:

"At Fanaeian's, we provide various types of hair-care, grooming and personal styling services to our customers. As for me, I'm a fourth year Law and Commerce student at The Australian National University (ANU). A lot of my clients have asked about my degree, how it's totally different to the styling services Fanaeian's has to offer. Recently, I've been looking for ways to incorporate some of what I've learned at university to support my business.


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9mAZLPpsDS/


One of the things I've been thinking about is to eventually expand Fanaeian's outside of Australia. My dream is to have Fanaeian's outlets across the world, which is why I'm also pursuing a major in International Business. So that sort of ties into the business operations and what I hope to achieve in the near future."


Inspiration


Akash:

"Where did the inspiration for Fanaeian's come from? What made you start the business?"


Shaun:

"So it started in 2012 when I was a teenager; I remember helping my grandfather trim his beard and hair. As time passed, I began to realise how much I enjoy doing it. The feeling of making someone look good and feel better about themselves was quite satisfying.

No one in my family has pursued a career in hair or personal styling; majority of them are engineers and doctors. Since this is something I'm really passionate about, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do something different.


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5AVOynBDun/


So I did a course in hair-styling, started cutting hair for my father, family and friends. Gradually, the idea expanded and I thought of scaling it upto a full-fledged business!


A Leap of Faith


Akash:

"How did you go about starting the business?"


Shaun:

"In year 11 and 12 I was in Adelaide, that's when I decided to do some re-branding and took things a little more seriously. I designed everything, ranging from the Fanaeian's logo, t-shirts and better quality equipment. I had my classmates help advertise the brand, and I also participated in some charity events to promote myself. My clientele included college students and people from outside, so I had them spread the word as well.

I firmly believe that if something is written in your destiny, no matter what you do, you'll always come back to it. That's what styling is for me. After doing this for over 7 years, sometimes I reflect and realise that although there were times when I got distracted, I always found my way back to this path.

In Canberra, I got a job working for Mens' Biz Barber Shop. While I was working there, I started building my own clientele on campus at ANU. There were a lot of students who were looking for styling and hair care services, most of them being fresh out of high school. I was able to educate them as to how to best style their hair and develop their confidence, that was really satisfying."


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvEnyj1AbWG/

Akash:

"I remember back in 2018 when we met for the first time. I was quite impressed to see how premium the service felt, even though Fanaeian's didn't have an official working space. You kept pushing and took advantage of the resources you had, that's commendable."


Shaun:

"I've always had the vision to build and expand something of my own. I never wanted to settle as an average barber, I wanted to be different. I consider hair-styling to be a form of art, which is why I try to be creative with my work. The financial aspect is part of it, but it has never been my sole focus."


Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash


The Opportunist


Akash:

"Did you ever have any second thoughts about expanding the business? You mentioned that no one in your family had a background in hair-styling; how did they feel about Fanaeian's and your ideas?"


Shaun:

"My brother is a businessman, so I kinda grew up in a business-centric environment. With time, I developed an interest towards selling things. It was something I was good at. That's why this business is like a commercial endeavor for me. My family and friends have always been supportive towards my ideas, even though I'm doing something different."


Akash:

"I feel the way our society is structured, is that women have typically been the ones who put a good amount of effort into how they look. With men, it's sort of been growing over the past few years as we're beginning to realise the importance of self-care, hair-styling and grooming.


Photo by Leigh Cooper on Unsplash

Another thing is the perception that people have towards this field. Coming from an Asian country, I've noticed a certain stigma associated with this career path. While this doesn't apply to everyone, in most cases it's assumed that you can only be successful if you pursue a career in a field like law, or medicine for example. These people fail to realise the fact that this is a growing industry. Not only can you earn a good amount of money working in this field, but you're also creative value, and a strong customer base. The numbers don't lie."


Standing Out


Akash:

"How did you aim to separate yourself from the existing hair-styling service providers in Canberra?"


Shaun:

"So at Fanaeian's we offer a premium, personalised styling service. Honestly, I haven't seen a lot of places that provide anything of this sort. With my appointments, there is a single workplace studio where it's only me and my client. To give some context, I always look at someone's hair in an architectural way, assessing the face shape, edges, angles and what might or might not work.


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B199y0tgjy3/


My intention is to achieve the best look for my client. I want someone to walk out my studio with confidence, with utmost satisfaction that they've received the best haircut possible. Unlike many businesses that are all about making money, my primary focus has been towards the art aspect, and to make someone a better person."


Akash:

"As a customer myself, and a marketing student, I agree to the fact that having a service is personalised and tailored to one's individual requirements is a different experience altogether. This is something that can potentially change the way a customer perceives a brand. It's a strong competitive advantage."


Shaun:

"Another point I'd like to add is that that we're approaching an era where the image surrounding the 'ideal man' is changing. Men are realising the importance of being well-groomed, looking and smelling good. Facial characteristics like hair and beards have been experiencing trends as more and people try what suits them best."


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


Akash:

"From personal experience I can vouch for the importance of looking good. It can completely change the way you carry yourself, how confident you are, how comfortable you are in your own skin; and this is reflected sometimes by the way in which people treat you. It conveys the subliminal message that you have that time, responsibility and discipline to look after your health and hygiene. It's good to see that increasing awareness amongst people."


A Life of Style and Study


Akash:

"As a student, many of us struggle with time management. How did you manage your time? Were you able to find a healthy balance between your studies and with Fanaeian's?"


Shaun:

"It's difficult, I'll say that. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes when I'm not cutting hair. A good amount of time goes into handling my social media accounts, particularly to keep my brand active and stay up to date with new styling trends. That being said, I also feel that with good planning and structure, you'll be able to manage your time effectively and get what needs to be done."


Akash:

"Did you ever feel like Fanaeian's was taking over your daily schedule and leaving you with less time for study?"


Shaun:

"Yeah it happens quite often. Last year during the university ball season, I was styling numerous people. Towards the end I was feeling drained. However, after that season I planned my schedule such that I was devoting time to my studies and catching up on everything I missed out on. Moderation and planning is what's needed."


Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash


Akash:

"With university we have a lot going on on campus, assignments, events, etc. Guess it all comes down to how motivated you are. In your case it's that drive that you have, to help people look and feel better."


Shaun:

"Seconded. Motivation is what helps you to achieve whatever it is that you desire. For example, there might be many people out there who are more talented than I am, but if they don't have the motivation to take action, they struggle with achieving their goals. As I said, it's about having a balance. It's not easy, but it sure is manageable."



Revamp


Akash:

"So here I've got a video from your YouTube channel:


What's the idea behind this makeover series?"


Shaun:

"I've always had an interest in clothing trends and fashion designing. A friend of mine actually suggested this idea of personal styling to progress the business forward. So we decided to have some male students feature in the series, where we ask them where they see themselves in 5 years time. A lot of times you can have an individual who might be a genius, but who is unsure as to how to approach an interview situation. As something that could potentially affect one's chances of landing a job, we thought of taking it up for the project. A complete head-to-toe makeover."


Akash:

"A lot of times with job interviews for example, we work on getting to the interview stage but when that time comes, many of us get flustered as to how to approach it, how to prepare for it, and so on. It might not be due to lack of motivation, but rather lack of knowledge or understanding about the intricate aspects involved with meeting someone for the first time. Dressing appropriately acts as a strong foundation in these cases.

Taking manicures for example, there is this tendency to associate manicures with being feminine. I personally think it's normal for a guy to have a manicure."


Shaun:

"Most of the times guys get it wrong. I've experienced it first hand during a date, as well as from friends' experiences as to how often women notice a man's hands. It's not just about cutting nails which is what most guys leave it at."


Photo by Alysa Bajenaru on Unsplash


Akash:

"There's one example that comes to my mind when I think about this. Every morning we spend a few minutes brushing our teeth and taking care of our dental hygiene, every day without fail. Why can't we do the same when it comes to the rest of our body? Whether it's a haircut, a manicure or even exercise, at the end of the day it's your body and it also deserves care and attention."


Shaun:

"Nowadays we have a lot of cosmetic products in the market, like Botox and injections for example, that people can use to enhance certain aspects of their face. I try educating my customers about these substances to make sure they make the right decision. With these too, guys tend to be embarassed when it comes to using these substances, thinking it's a feminine thing. It's completely normal."


The Road Ahead


Akash:

"So it's been over 7 years since you started Fanaeian's. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time. How's the journey been?"


Shaun:

"It's been up and down to be honest. As of now, I feel as though I have a clear vision about the future. One of my goals is that by the age of 45, everything I wear should be under my own brand. Let's see how that goes. Right now it's all about setting short term objectives, such as expanding internationally, something that aligns with that elusive long term goal. For example, at the moment we're working towards launching our own brand of hair products. Hopefully in the near future, we'll be launching personal styling for women as well."


Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxeW-L7JPFU/

Akash:

"One thing I've learned studying Commerce is the importance of setting objectives. Having a clear goal in mind helps develop the best approach to take when it comes to progressing with a business. It's something that plays a part into other aspects of your life too. For example, 'by next year I want to improve my GPA by 1 point, or that I want to lose x pounds of weight.' That way you'll have a good idea as to where you are at the moment, and what steps you can take to achieve that goal.


I'm sure teamwork plays an important role in how you operate the business. How did you approach the idea of having a team for your work?"


Shaun:

"Having a team is really important because it can get quite draining if you take up all the work yourself. With personal styling, I had a marketing manager in charge of promotions, one person in charge of the website and then a consultant to discuss how to best sell the package. You can't be an expert in everything, so you need to have a reliable team to work with. With team members, I prefer to work with someone who I resonate with, someone who I'm comfortable going to hangout with. That relationship is important for me, to be able to talk about various topics and work at the same pace when needed."


Akash:

"If you could share one piece of advice, or a tip to someone out there who's looking to start their own hair-styling business, or any business for that matter; what would it be?"


Shaun:

"I think a lot of students want to have their own business, but they're afraid of failure. I also think they might be underestimating their ideas. I always say that if you have a business idea, something you feel strongly towards, give it a go. You never know what might happen if you just try. Even if it fails, you would have learned a great deal of information during the process. It can be in the form of networks, sharing of ideas or just advice; you would've emerged a better person. If you don't risk it, you're never going to get there."


Photo by Fábio Alveson Unsplash


Akash:

"That's what the basic principle of entrepreneuership. It's all about having faith in your own ideas and abilities. Depending on what the individual desires, having your own business gives you that freedom to choose how you want to progress and do how you want to do things. Starting is the first step, then go from there. You never know how things might turn out."


As former professional ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky once famously said:

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."

Podcast Links:


Anchor- https://anchor.fm/themodernz/episodes/Building-a-hair-styling-enterprise-in-2020-ft--Shaun-Fanaeian-eeevte/a-a29b2t8


Apple Podcasts- https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-modern-z/id1508434840#episodeGuid=bc18b9b1-a944-4084-adc8-0d349e913f2c


Spotify- https://open.spotify.com/episode/3CbDfNfeXxn4NnVvvkBLSa


Our Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/TModernZ

Our Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/the.modernz/


We offer our sincere gratitude to today's guest- Shaun Fanaeian,  founder of Fanaeian's hair and skin. Check out:


Fanaeian's- http://fanaeians.com.au/


Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/FanaeianHS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fanaeians/


Shaun Fanaeian: https://www.instagram.com/mr.fanaeian/



Sources used for information:


https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hair-care-market-size-worth-2111-billion-by-2025--cagr-31-grand-view-research-inc-679958763.html

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