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Is ‘salon on wheels’ a growing phenomenon in times of social distancing?

by Arun Shirishkar

The pandemic has impacted several industries dramatically, including beauty and wellness. At the time when social distancing has become paramount than ever before, Indira Ahluwalia, Owner, Grace Salon, and a veteran of the beauty industry, launched the concept of Grace Salon on Wheels in Ludhiana, Punjab, to make her clients feel even more safe and secure.

This concept – salon on wheels – is not new to the industry. One of the first such salon was launched in 2017, named Captain Combo in New Delhi, followed by ADS, Nayee Brahmin, Giovani, Laura’s and many more. However, back then, this concept did not prove to be much viable for the owners as well as among the masses considering it being cost intensive as compared to the salon. However, the situation seemed to be different post the pandemic.

Priyanka Parshurami, in a one-on-one with Indira Ahluwalia, delved further to understand what led her to introduce this concept in Ludhiana.

Idea or inspiration behind starting the mobile salon: I have been working in this industry for the past 32 years, and my experience suggests that one should be open to change. Bridal has been my focus all these years at my head office. However, my son, who is also a part of this industry, travels for doing bridal make-up and it was his idea that we start a ‘salon on wheels’ so that we offer the salon type feel for outstation brides as well. And during these COVID times, we introduced other salon services for our regular clients who are unable to visit the salon due to the lockdown.

We have chain salons and an academy under the banner of “Grace”. And, for people to connect with this salon on wheels with our brand, we named it “Grace – Salon On Wheels”.

Services offered: Grace-Salon on Wheels offers all services that one can avail in the parlour and that too by following new normal norms of sanitation and social distancing.

Response received: The response is terrific and overwhelming as this is something unique, which this city and state have not seen and experienced before. Many a times, it happens that we are on road for the outstation bride and people stop us on the way to enquire about the services and we get clients and publicity. Similarly, if the van is parked in a hotel and is free, people can avail its services.

Required budget to start a mobile salon: To start with a ‘salon on wheel’, one needs a budget of a minimum of Rs 50-55 lakh, which includes everything from buying a brand-new van and converting it into a salon. However, if anyone decides to go ahead with a second-hand van, then the budget would come down to Rs 45-50 lakhs. If you look at it keenly then the investment required is as good as opening a physical salon. However, this is a one-time investment. Additionally, there is a yearly road running cost of Rs 2 lakh including a yearly road tax, petrol and salaries of drivers and staff.

A viable, successful option: It is the most viable option during pandemic times. In Punjab usually, everyone lives in joint families in big kothis (Bungalows). There is a minimum of three to four women along with young girls with no me time and privacy. But now, with Grace – Salon on wheels, they enjoy parlour services. We also rent the Salon on wheel for shooting to be used as a vanity van, which also helps us generate revenue during the non-bridal season.

Expanding the business across Punjab: We do have plans to expand this business initiative, but in long term. At present, we are working on completing the work of our two salons, which was stranded due to lockdown.

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