Being a leader will always create a ruckus: Nabila

Hair and makeup maestro discusses challenges that come with taking the lead and the backlash she received while resuming services during the pandemic

By Buraq Shabbir

KARACHI: Nabila Maqsood does not need an introduction. Having served the hair and makeup industry for 35 years, Nabila has made a name for herself. Recently, the salon launched the Team Nabila app that aims to serve customers in the comfort of their homes. Her son, Zakir Maqsood, Creative Director for ZERO, is taking the legacy forward with this app. However, there is much more in the pipeline for brand Nabila. The power woman speaks of her commitment to work, taking risks being the industry leader and future plans with Cutacut.

“I’m not done yet. The past is what you guys have seen. My commitment to myself is, every day that I am still alive, I’m committed to two things: My brand and my family. Nothing else. It is not just a Nabila brand, it’s the ZERO brand and there is a mother company, Cre8, which is going to come up with many verticals. Nabila is very familiar because it has a history, Zero is about five years old, TEAM (app) is being launched and there’s a lot more to come. I’m happy to see it evolving according to my vision and my drive. I’m very thankful to God and there is a lot of gratitude that my next generation is taking this forward.”


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A post shared by Nabila (@thisisnabila)

Nabila went on to share that she feels lucky to have so much experience. “I have a very amazing combination of hands-on experience of this market and on the-pulse information on what’s happening in the world. I have the wisdom to take what’s happening around the world and converting it into our sensibility. And that is my magic formula. Fortunately, I have been able to do it well and I will do more of it as long as I live.”

Reflecting on the lockdown days, she shared an interesting story. One day, she realized the roots in her were growing and she didn’t like seeing herself with grey hair. She asked her salon people to send a certain formula and necessary equipment and ended up making a video on how to do your roots. A lot of women shared the video around. The formula is very simple and one can pick it up from the salon. “It wasn’t a money-making thing. It was something very organic that I as a 50-something woman realized while sitting at home. I shared it with people around me and it was very well received. That’s when I realized that this is a time to shift and not expect them to jeopardize everything,” she asserted.


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A post shared by Nabila (@thisisnabila)

Amidst Covid-19, when the lockdown eased and things began to get better, Nabila attempted to raise the bar. She announced resuming services and assured taking care of safety measure and hygiene. However, she received a lot of flak for it.

“We made the investment, we made that video and I said this will be the only way forward for the salon business because we are vectors for transferring. We received a lot of flak for it. However, funny enough, when we reopened, the Sindh government asked me for our SOPs so that they could issue it. That was the standard of opening the salons. Also, my next flight out was on Emirates and I saw all the hostesses dressed up exactly like that – just in white and red as per their uniform. Love me or hate me, that’s going to be the future. What I said was absolutely right.”


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A post shared by NABILA (@nabila_salon)

She furthered, “Being a leader will always create a lot of ruckus and controversy but I am never scared of it. I do the right thing to my best ability; tomorrow when I know better, I will do better. That’s my mantra.”

On a parting note, Nabila shared what the future holds in store for the brand. She revealed that they are opening three new salons in the coming months. In addition to the app and their E-store, Zero makeup is also expanding. They also have a five-year plan to have about 50-60 products by then. Lastly, a very interesting project is in the pipeline that is likely to launch by the end of this year.

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