He started chasing his dreams from a young age. The chase took him to Mumbai and back. Finally, he is a proud owner of Srinagar’s stylish salon. Saima Rashid reports
If groomed properly Kashmiris can be as trendy and stylish as anybody else in the world, feels Aashir Lone, owner of Srinagar’s one of the busiest salons called Makeover. A franchise of French cosmetic giant L’Oreal, Aashir’s journey to a salon is full of twists and turns.
It started in 2000 when Aashir visited Mumbai chasing a dream. Aashir claims that after a brief struggle he was shortlisted for a role in a Sony TV serial. “But I had other things on my mind by then. Like, I wanted to open a salon in Srinagar.”
Originally hailing from Gurez – a 123 kms treacherous journey from Srinagar – Aashir has indeed come a long way chasing his dreams. “Since my father, a police officer, was posted in Jammu for 20 years, I never got a chance to live in Gurez,” says Aashir.
Aashir did his schooling from Jammu before graduating in Arts from Amar Singh College in Srinagar. “I was least interested in studies,” Aashir says. “Things like interior designing, fashion designing, modelling interested me more.”
His unusual selection of career upset some of his family members. But his father turned out to be accommodative. He agreed to send him to Mumbai. “Mumbai is never an easy place for strugglers, but then with time and hard work things become easy. I started with modelling, then got chance to act in few serials and movies,” says Aashir.
Later he joined International Hair and Management Company, Mumbai, to pursue Level 4 diploma and Management course which is conducted by L’oreal Professional Paris. “I was declared one of the toppers among 20 creative and innovative people,” he informs.
Since Kashmir was going through political turbulence back then, some of his colleagues sniggered at the idea of opening a salon in Srinagar amid reports about acid-attacks on women and threat letters to already existing small-time beauty parlours. “But I remained firm and opened first outlet of Makeover in Srinagar,” he says.
Aashir’s is one of few salons in Kashmir that has ISO certification.
Salons apart, Aashir has opened platinum Gym and Spa in Srinagar and Jammu as well.
He didn’t stop there. Aashir forayed into the field of hospitality as well. But this time, bad luck played a spoilsport. “I had opened a Chinese restaurant ‘Chinese Blossom’, which was rated as one of the best restaurants in J&K,” he says. “An Ex-chef from Radisson chain of hotels was hired for it.”
But in an awful twist of fate, High Court and Municipal Corporation moved to seal it along with 40 more buildings in city over allegations of illegal construction by the landlords.
“A big dream of mine was crushed,” Aashir says. But nonetheless, he remained upright and continued to rise to fame through his famous Makeover franchise. He receives clients from areas as far as Baramulla, Islamabad and Sopore.
“It was a happy moment when I saw people coming first to enjoy such services,” he scoffs.