LAHORE: Three decades in an industry is a lifetime. And that is exactly what Mussarat Misbah has done, given a life time to developing and transforming the concept of a salon for an average Pakistani woman. She’s a contentious figure with many controversies up in the air and yet she has managed to live through them all and emerge as a stronger business woman. “It has been a journey of three decades, and a journey of progress and success,” beamed Misbah.
Although Depilex prides itself in being the salon for the average woman, there was nothing average about the women that showed up to pay their respect on Depilex’s 30-year celebration soiree at the brand’s largest salon in Lahore. From veterans like Shehnaz Sheikh, Tahira Syed and Faryal Gauhar to Zeba Bakhtiar, Reema and Shahida Mini, Misbah has worked across the varied spectrum of showbiz and cultivated a precious relationship with all her colleagues.
“She’s the pioneer of everything,” said Lollywood actor turned director Reema, “She created all our looks for our interviews and taught us how to face the camera. All the big names in the industry have learnt from her. I didn’t even know how to use an eye pencil.” From the other end, one could hear an ebullient Shahida Mini admit that, “Baji (as Misbah is affectionately known in the industry and among her friends) has a huge hand in making us beautiful.”
These golden girls of the entertainment scene huddled together, rejoicing over some shared memories, speaking of what the salon used to be like 15 years ago when they started frequenting it. They all walked in bringing flowers and gifts and reminisced of the good old days of a single state television and of living through the conservatism of the 1980s.
Ayesha Sana claims that her association with Misbah has been for over 16 years. One could assess how deep that relationship is just by seeing how Sana personally took the charge at the event, meeting, greeting and guiding guests inside its premises. It could be argued that Sana’s enthusiasm was because she is a franchise owner of Depilex Men, but her familial manner with the guests lent a grace and comfort that comes more from devotion than financial gains.
Instead of holding a run-of-the-mill fashion show, Depilex devised an ingenious plan to host an afternoon of pampering for a hundred close friends and clients. And so they walked in, treating themselves to complementary facials, blow dries, manicures and pedicures as they nibbled on snacks and sipped drinks.
“We thought long and hard about what to do to celebrate our 30 years in the business. We didn’t want to do a fashion show since it is so overdone,” said Redah, Misbah’s daughter and now the heir to the Depilex empire. “We initially thought of doing an exhibition of all our archives but then we did not have the time to put it up which we hope to do as a separate event in the future. My mother actually wanted to do something where we could give back to our clients for all their support over three decades,” explained Redah.
“We wanted women to feel like duchesses, and so we came up with the Depilex Duchess card which accords a 50 per cent discount for life on all services to our special clients,” added Salma Turab of Purple Arts who handled the PR for the event.
The idea behind the event was brilliant because salons have always been women’s safe haven in a society as male-dominated as ours where every public space is graffitied with a strong spray of male. In the closely guarded confines of a salon, many a woman have gossiped, bitched, cried and unburdened themselves onto their trusted hair-dresser , their psychologists and confidantes. And for the way these women would take Misbah to a side as they privately shared a joke or revealed a secret, Misbah said, “What I have built in the last 30 years are not just 30 salons, but trust from my clients and that is a valuable keep sake.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2011.
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