The new Jawed Habib salon on Ballygunge Circular Road is just a hop from Preeti Parekh’s Rowland Row home. After a hectic day of running around in the house, the 30-something homemaker loves to rest her feet by dipping them in perfumed warm water.
“I go to Habib’s for a hair spa or a facial. It’s very relaxing,” says Parekh, who doesn’t mind the purse pinch as long as she is pampered on a lazy afternoon.
Targeting high-end customers like Parekh, all the big names in the beauty business have moved into this posh residential para of south Calcutta. Four salons have come up within a one-km radius in the past five years, stretching from Ballygunge Circular Road to Gurusaday Dutta Road and Sarat Bose Road.
June Tomkyns’s salon, born in 1989, is the oldest of the lot. There were no parlours in the area when Tomkyns set up shop on Ballygunge Circular Road. “I started off from my house. But when my client count started increasing, I had to look for a place and I just happened to find this address,” she recounts. Tomkyns still draws a large number of famous faces (read Moon Moon Sen, her daughters Raima and Riya, Koel Mullick...).
The Sen ladies, residents of Ballygunge Circular Road, also check out Eye Catchers, which came up on that stretch two years ago, says the proprietor, Srivardhan Daga. The 850-sq-ft beauty stop has had star clients like Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar too. “Some of the affluent business families of Ballygunge come to us. That’s the reason I chose this spot,” explains Daga.
Head Turners opened right next to Mainland China on Gurusaday Dutta Road five years ago for the “strategic location and smooth traffic flow”, says Niraj Killa, the branch manager. Its success has prompted the unisex salon to unveil another outlet on Sarat Bose Road six months ago.
A few steps from Sarat Bose Road seemed just the right location to Bridgette Jones to start her business when she parted ways with her mother-in-law June Tomkyns. “Most of my clients live close to this area. But now I have people coming in from as far as Tollygunge and New Alipore,” says Bridgette.
The Habib salon, just five months old, is cashing in on the growing “percentage of people, especially college-goers and professionals, who have become very conscious of their looks”. “They expect quality service,” says Sujit Bhagat of Habib’s.
Quality service is indeed the keyword in this thriving beauty business. Plus, a constant flow of new ideas and concepts.
Tomkyns feels the facial given by her daughter Sharon is a big draw for her clients. “More than the products Sharon uses, it’s the way she does it that makes people come back to us.”
Head Turners has recently introduced Digital Waves, a gadget that gives the hair bounce and volume. “It’s frizz-free. It’s the current trend in Mumbai and Delhi,” says Killa.
Nilanjanaa Sengupta, actress and wife of Jisshu Sengupta, feels the services at most of these southern addresses are on a par with those in Mumbai. “I go to Head Turners but for me the stylist is more important and the one I have is very good.”
Jawaharlal Kamboj, 66, has spent the better part of his life getting his hair cut at AN John on Park Street. But now he prefers Jawed Habib, where he drops in at least twice or thrice a month for a foot massage, hair colouring, facial, manicure and pedicure. “The staff is well-trained and well-mannered. It’s like eating at a five-star after an ordinary restaurant,” says Kamboj.
The feel-at-home factor is top priority to ensure a steady footfall. “We want our customers to feel comfortable. So, hygiene is a must,” stresses Renu Malhotra, the manager at Bridgette Jones. The salon is spic and span, and the massage rooms on the mezzanine floor have the right mood for one to relax.
And like Tomkyns, Bridgette adds her personal touch to all the facilities provided at her parlour, from facials for teens to “supreme lift” for older women.
“I usually let June (Tomkyns) decide what I should do with my hair. They know the constraints of my profession and know what will look good on me. They are very warm people,” says Tollywood actress Koel.
The add-ons are important too. Pratima Sanei loves the free foot or back massage at Eye Catchers, while she gets her hair done. “It makes me come all the way from Salt Lake, where I have shifted from Southern Avenue,” she says.
Manjari Bamani, who lives in Minto Park, is a salon veteran. She has tried out most of the beauty stops in the Ballygunge area — hair straightening at June Tomkyns; hair cut at Bridgette Jones, Eye Catchers and Head Turners. “They are all a little steep but worth the money,” sums up Manjari.
I am not the kind who would like to spend hours at a salon. I usually go to June Tomkyns for a haircut, hair colouring, spa, manicure and pedicure.
— KOEL MULLICK
I often go to Bridgette Jones for a pedicure or for hair styling. Bridgette is always up-to-date with the latest trends and styles. Her facials are also very good. They helped me get rid of a tan that I had got after an outdoor shoot.
I usually go to Head Turners for hair styling or an oil massage or a haircut. I have fond memories of Head Turners as I had taken my daughter Sana there for her first haircut.
— NILANJANAA SENGUPTA
Must-try: An exclusive facial with massage from beauty expert Sharon. You can also choose from exotic facials like Aromatherapy, Gold and Skin Lightening that reduces dark circles and patches.
Pocket pinch: Rs 1,500 (Sharon’s face massage)
Must-try: Digital Waves for a soft perm, bounce and volume. Not only are the curls bigger and glossier, it’s a hassle-free way to keep the hair frizz-free.
Pocket pinch: Rs 3,500
Must-try: The hi-tech “hair penetration clipper”, the brand new facility at Bridgette’s. It helps retain moisture and makes your mane shine. Recommended for dry and damaged hair.
Pocket pinch: Rs 650-plus
Must-try: The Massage Foot Spa that makes the body and feet relax. The masseuse focuses on the pressure points on the feet. A great stress-buster.
Pocket pinch: Rs 650 per sitting
Must-try: A free foot or back massage while your hair is being coloured, straightened or treated.
Pocket pinch: Rs 700-plus