She’s the undisputed Czarina of hair styling and has worked with practically all the top actresses including Zeenat Aman, Sridevi, Hema Malini, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shetty and of course, the ethereally beautiful Dimple Kapadia. In fact, clients would often ask her for the iconic “Dimple’ haircut and colour that she had given the gorgeous ‘Sagar’ actress.
Beautiful at the age of 80, the iconic Nalini Naegamvala of ‘Nalini of Nalini and Yasmin salon’, is still super active. However, she now prefers to work with the underprivileged and has left the reigns of her ‘hairstyling’ legacy to her multi-faceted daughter Natasha. Of course, her love for her salon is still passionate, so much so that she is gearing up to take the admin reigns of her salon a few times a week soon. Here, Nalini Naegamvala talks to Sumita Chakraborty, TheGlitz Founder and Editor-in-chief, about her journey in the world of hairstyling, her relentless philanthropic work with the underprivileged and more…
…I met up with Nalini at her beautiful home in Mumbai and without much ado; she made me feel comfortable from the word ‘go’. So not to disturb Natasha, Nalini’s daughter who too was being interviewed, I moved to Nalini’s bedroom. As I entered her room, my eyes widened looking at her bedroom walls that were adorned with gorgeous vintage pictures of Nalini as a young woman. “My God,” I gasped, “You look stunning. Why didn’t you become an actress?” Nalini laughed and said that wasn’t really an option as she came from a pretty conservative home.
Becoming A Hairstylist
Nalini was, however, extremely dynamic, enterprising and ambitious… and thus started her iconic journey in the world of hairstyling. Nalini avers, “I decided to pursue my career in hairstyling when I was in England for three years. My husband was a Director with Air India and he was posted in England at the time when I started my career in hairdressing.”
Yasmin was working with her – they were both air hostesses at that time. So Nalini and her partner Yasmin decided to walk an unusual career path… hairstyling. At that point, mind you, hairstyling was neither aspirational nor popular but that didn’t deter these two enterprising ladies who decided to establish a hair salon – ‘Nalini & Yasmin’ in Mumbai that offered exceptional hair services which until then was only available abroad. Nalini says, “Our partnership was good. Yasmin was the one who handled the clients. She was very warm and pleasant – a people’s person while I focussed more on the hair styling so we gelled well.”
…Of course, there were challenges galore too but Nalini says, “Yasmin and I somehow managed. The biggest problem was that there were no professional hairstylists in India and we had to start training girls to have a couple of hairstylists besides Yasmin and I.”
But both Nalini and Yasmin handled all the challenges and together, these two trailblazers institutionalized their salon as a brand to reckon with and ‘Nalini & Yasmin’ became a buzzword for the fashion-forward including Bollywood.
But the iconic brand is now ‘Nalini of Nalini and Yasmin salon’. So I ask curiously, “Yasmin and you after a period of time have gone on your separate journeys, haven’t you?” Nalini says, “It was an organic progression. My daughters were also grown up and so were her children so it had to happen. But Yasmin stays in the next building and both of us go to the park for our walks every evening, so we still have our wonderful bond.”
Working With The Underprivileged!
Nalini has always had a philanthropic side to her. During the pandemic, Nalini had started a crowd-funding campaign run by Ketto to help barbers and small beauty parlours that had shut down. Nalini said then, “Covid pandemic came upon us in 2020 without much warning and the hair and beauty industry struggled due to the lockdowns. Salons were shut for months at a time. Not only were the owners affected so were the staff, as salaries were cut down with no sales coming in and expenses such as high rents had to be paid. However, we human beings have resilience and quite a few barbers and small salons were able to pull through thanks to our Ketto drive.”
It wasn’t just the pandemic that Nalini’s philanthropic side was seen… she had started hiring and training girls from the underprivileged segments for her hair salon way back. Nalini says, “Training the underprivileged has been my passion since the beginning of my hair career. I have trained under global masters at Vidal Sassoon, Toni & Guy, Morris School, Rever School and Wella School. I know the importance of education in this particular field.” So Nalini and her daughter Natasha designed career courses for the lesser privileged which created great job opportunities for them.
Nalini adds, “My heart went out to these girls. So many of them were talented yet never had the opportunity. I decided I’d do something for them and so started hiring them in my salon. I trained them and found them really quick to learn. The helpers in our salon were taught by us to do blowdries and hair sets as Yasmin and I were invariably busy and needed help to style hair once our haircuts were done. Gradually they learned technical work as well.”
Of course, these girls had to be taught from scratch and many of them couldn’t even speak Hindi or English. Nalini says proudly, “Today, my girls have excellent jobs in top salons. In fact, I can tell you some extraordinary stories of the girls who started out as cleaners but are now successful stylists today. Many of them have even opened up their own salons and are top brands themselves. I feel a sense of pride looking at their growth. Not only did we create careers for the lesser privileged young women, but it has also given them the opportunity to rise above the poverty and uplift the lives of their children.”
As we end the interview, I ask Nalini, “If you look back, how you would describe your journey?” Without a pause, Nalini says, “God’s gift!” …Indeed, it was and as we bid farewell to the wonderful Nalini, I realize that she has used this special gift of God to make a success story of so many underprivileged girls who have carved great careers in hairdressing thanks to her. Kudos to the exceptionally wonderful Nalini! More power to her!