Multi-hyphenated Parul Gulati has a burgeoning journey in the entertainment industry. Born and raised in Rohtak, Haryana, she describes her younger self as shy, which is no longer the case.
“I was born into a small family. My education was from an all-girls school. I was never a people person when I was younger. I had my own spot in the corner and used to enjoy looking around, while observing. But now I’m a completely different person. I like who I am now, and I liked who I was when I was younger,” she tells us.
Having received a lot of fame and recognition with Cadbury “mann mein laddu phoota’’ ad, she has been doing Punjabi films and is an internet personality. She, on the other hand, desired to do more and make a difference.
“I got my big break from Facebook. I never imagined that I would be an actor, but I always wanted to pursue my dream and goal. I wanted to do something big and to be a part of a part of history which children’s books,” she said.
Looking back, even before she became popular, Parul dreamt of entrepreneurship. “
It’s just an urge to have something that has my name on it. I come from a very lower middle-class family in Rohtak. It was always my dream to put my name on something. Then it took the shape of a business, it was clear that one day, I’ll have a brand of my own here,” Parul said.
So, in 2017, her love for hair led her to launch Nish Hair, a home-grown hair extension and accessories brand.
To Parul, hair extensions is a way of spreading joy, building confidence, and celebrating freedom in one of the easiest ways possible. “Nish hair is the brand which fulfils human needs. Hair extensions is a way of spreading joy, building confidence and celebrating freedom in one of the most basic ways possible. I wear mine with a lot of pride and now my consumers also wear them the same,”
From living room to D2C brand
Being in the entertainment field, she knew well, what goes behind the scenes when it comes to managing hair. I have seen the amount of work that goes to get a perfect look. But inevitably it also brings damages. They deal with all sorts of problems, hair fall, frizzy hair, grey roots, hair thinning, colour damage, Parul adds.
“One day, after much brainstorming, it became clear that it (the business) is going to be around hair extensions,” Parul reminisces.
The very next day, she called around people for raw materials and started experimenting with it. “It took a long journey to make it reach where it is now. Nish hair began in my living room with my mother, and I am now the proud owner of this beautiful company that I have built over the years,” she adds.
Since its inception, Parul has add-ons to the Nish Hair range, and expanded into creating all things hair. The company works with 100 per cent human hair, which are hand selected and stitched to perfection. “We have meticulously crafted each step to ensure the extensions you get are premium quality, soft and extremely long lasting,”
Starting from scratch, Parul’s business is now doing well, especially it is gaining more traction via social commerce. Precisely on Instagram. “The major revenue comes from Instagram. Last year the revenue was Rs 6.7 crore.”
“The truth is, as an entrepreneur, you have to talk about your product or brand from day zero. I started creating content on my Instagram account, promoting them. I make reels on DIY for parties, weddings, date-night and other looks. I created a very strong network, which is the most important intangible asset,” she tells us.
Hair extensions are still taboo
Parul believes, leadership play a key role in ensuring that changes are constant, and innovation is prioritised. Being an actor, content creator and a CEO her journey has not been easy. Hair business is tough too, she expresses.
Beauty today is one of the biggest markets and human hair extension is part of it. The point is, today most people including men and women face hair issues and extensions are highly used. But in India, female hair loss issues are taboo, especially in a category that was either seen as a mere fashion accessory or spoken about in hush voices to avoid garnering attention.
Parul reminisces struggling to build awareness about how ‘normal’ it is to use hair extensions.
“Most saw them as a taboo topic, an equivalent to wigs or simply shrugged off the idea in disgust. But I knew from the time I wore my first set of extensions, that I loved them and could clearly see in them the potential to help thousands. But when I started my journey, Nish Hair was the only hair extension brand in the industry. For around two years, it was really hard for me to teach people about hair essentials, but Instagram helped me a lot, because I made videos and showed people how it works,” she tells us.
On the initial days, Parul had to explain things to consumers. She started with putting up stalls at places displaying her products. “I used to offer people to test the products there to get their attention. Few female consumers also came to me asking if I had any products made (customise) for them. Then I realised, that I should be making products for their needs. So, yes it was a really tough job to educate Indian consumers about hair extensions,” she explains.
Amid challenges there are lessons as well
Besides busting people myths around hair extension, there were cliché challenges, that Parul experienced as a women entrepreneur. “Me and my mother started Nish Hair out of passion and to make a mark in the industry. But there were challenges as well. To start with, I struggled with funds for my business, since I didn’t have prior experience. And it was something I was starting from scratch. So, our initial concern was to just manage the resources and put every vertical like marketing, sales, raw materials, etc in order. From sourcing to getting the right measurement, the address to ship the logistics it was all confusing for me. It wasn’t easy starting something on my own,” she said.
According to her, entrepreneurship has many facets, if done right and creatively, is a sure-fire way to maintain the status, expand their net worth, and venture off. But working over the years in male-dominated field, Parul has learned her way and adapted. “I realised that, and started acting accordingly. This has expanded by orders of magnitude the last couple of years,”
But do you feel being a female actor has given you some leverage, we asked. “Honestly, in my opinion, being an actor is also like owning a business since you’re selling your skills. So when I became my own boss, I had my base clear and I knew what I wanted to do. If you think about it, being an actor or any other profession, people will pull you down, it depends on how you take it, whether you let them take you down or use it as motivation to give your 100 per cent in growing your business,” she answers.
Being an entrepreneur has also have impacted her life for a greater good. It has made me efficient and brought a different perspective of boardroom, she says. “Initially, I learned to multitask. I have a natural tendency towards methodical rather than impulsive decision-making. Taking time to stop, analyse broader factors, and then challenge assumptions, helps to make more thoughtful and grounded business decisions. This shaped me as a leader. The goal-setting mentality, along with the need to outperform peers, means that are often primed to successfully define milestones and deliver timebound strategies,” she tells us.
2023 is going to be colourful
Today beauty is one of the biggest markets and Human hair extension is part of it. There has been a rise in hair accessories usage. People leverage hair extensions for different occasions. According to Parul, her brand is versatile. “My brand extensions are used for hair loss, temple loss, cancer patients who lost their hair. I’m the only standalone brand for extension and I love the way people are responding to it. Nish Hair’s go to market strategy is to make a product that is required and to be fancy. Their core focus is on fulfilling consumers’ need and their makeover. We create a product that is the need of the hour and I’m loving the responses I get from the customer,”
“I have recently launched hair extensions for curly hair and would love to expand the collection to hair of all types and colours!” Talking about the roadmap, Parul spills the beans on what is going to be the next big step for her venture.
“I would love to explore hair extensions for men. As the learning comes I don’t feel that extensions are only for women but they can be for men as well. I’m soon going to launch them in my collection,” she reveals.
Men regularly suffer from hairloss, it’s a big problem for them, she says. The use of hair extensions is increasing for concealing hair loss. Hair extension market growth will be influenced by the increasing occurrence of baldness across the world. The men’s grooming market has been growing rapidly in India. “According to market estimates, the industry is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11 per cent. This will be fun and I’m excited to start as soon on this,” she enthuses. Parul’s mission is to continue to build Nish Hair and accomplish all goals on the way.
In the period where entrepreneur believes in building a digital brand, Parul takes inspiration from iconic Indian actor Priyanka Chopra. “I grew up watching her and I admire her. I personally believe to be vocal about your personal brands as founders; if you don’t talk about your personal brand and what you’re building, no one will know,” she says.