Dream Chaser 

He tried his hands at teaching and then working for the government, but there was something that kept him looking for more. Saima Rashid reports the journey of a shy student who is out to make grooming affordable yet stylish in Kashmir

He would often reason with his businessman bothers about profits not being only driving force behind a business setup.

But twenty-eight-year-old Owais Nanda’s journey from a Program Officer in Rural development department to an owner of a saloon is an interesting one.

It all started with a trip to Jammu where he was supposed to attend a meeting. Before the meeting, Owais thought of having a new haircut. The trip to the saloon, where Owais was given a stylish haircut for just Rs 200, proved to be life changing for him. Owais was shocked as saloons in Kashmir charge thousands for the same haircut. “It left me thinking,” says Owais. “I went to saloons in Mumbai, Goa, Chandigarh, and Delhi to do a bit of research about branding and originality of products.”

After the research part was done Owais opened ‘Hap looksThe Style Café, at Sarah City Mall in Srinagar.  “The idea was to start an affordable but stylish saloon that will use only original branded products.”

Hailing from north Kashmir’s Baramulla,  Owais was brought up in Srinagar. Remembering his school days, Owais says he was an extremely shy student. “My teachers had no idea that a student of my name even existed in the class.”

But the personality flip came after Owais joined MBA at the University of Kashmir. “I was shy but not dull in studies. And within no time my teachers started noticing me for my brilliance.”

It was because of his teachers that Owais could shun his reservations about facing the crowd or speaking out his mind in front of the people.

After completing his MBA, Owais started teaching in the same department for a year. “I was the youngest teacher in the University.”

The continuous interaction with the students as a teacher helped Owais believe in himself. “Soon I was among the favorite teachers’ list. It felt great.”

But with his heart still in search of a reason, he quit his job as a teacher and joined the government sector. He was selected as a program officer in the Rural Development department.

No doubt Owais was content with his job but there was something that was ticking in his never-at-ease mind. And the trip to Jammu proved to be the eye-opener. “I instantly knew that this is something I want to do. I don’t know how people will look at my choices. But this is my dream.”

But to realize his dream he needed money. After a few unsuccessful visits to various banks, he decided to fund his dream from his own savings. “I started exploring options other than lending money from a bank.” And with the passage of time Owais’ dream started to find a shape. “Life is really interesting. You never know where you land. But to do something different in life, one needs to dream. And that is what I did.”

P.S (January 30, 2016): Days after publishing this write-up, it surfaced that Owais Nanda isn’t the owner of Hap Looks. The salon, as it later turned out to be, is owned by a South Kashmir girl. Kashmir Life wants to put it on record that we have always provided this forum to young talent without actually attempting to make heroes out of flukes. The reporter is reworking on the start-up, afresh.  

A Note by Kashmir Life Editor
October 15, 2018

In the ongoing #Meetoo campaign, it is reported at various spaces that the person about whom the copy was done in 2015, has been accused of serious misbehavior by some women he knows. In fact, police are investigating him for his actions.

Instead of putting this copy in a deep freeze, we decided to add this post-script so that the entire story of the evolution of this character remains in the public domain. The copy already had one correction within days after it was uploaded that suggested the person had misinformed the reporter about his status.

With this correction, it is now clear that the person has been resorting to inappropriate behaviour in his dealings with the people, especially women. Given the responsibility that public media has and must exhibit; we have added this note, instead of putting it down.

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