lWhen Kollywood’s stars want to get a new hairstyle, you can take a guess they head for Bounce. The salon was passionately founded by Vikram Mohan whose path breaking Ghajini hairstyle for Suriya created a wave in the South and later swept the whole country when it appeared in its Hindi remake. Ajith, Vikram, Suriya, Vijay, Simbhu and many more stars trust in him to get hairstyles that set new trends.
Vikram completed a Degree in Hotel Management and joined the marketing division of KLM Airlines, Dubai for 3 years. By 22, he was the Assistant Marketing Manager, Middle East and Asia but his heart was elsewhere. Deep down the creative urge started to rumble. He retuned to India and started the Bounce chain in 2003 and was highly successful and this inspired him to open up the Cut It Out chain of salons.
What inspired you to start a salon?
Vikram: Working for KLM, I had the opportunity to travel across the world especially very hip salons in cities like London and Paris. When I saw stylish hairstyles, I thought why not a business that’s high energy and high fashion. My mother, Latha Mohan has been running the Kanya chain of beauty salons for the past 17 years. I had grown up watching the whole salon business, though after I was 8, I was not allowed in as Kanya catered to women. I thought why not bring this international unisex concept into India.
I have always been creative; I draw, I am an artist, a musician and I like working with my hands. The last thing that I would have ever done was sit behind a computer. I did that for four years with the airline and did not like it. So the real true inspiration was that. I love the whole human connection that you can make a little bit of change in someone’s life that means so much.
Did you get any formal training?
I did not want to just start a salon. I wanted to complete a course and understand all aspects, so I did a short course in Singapore. The first haircut took 5 hours! My customer had lunch and dinner with me but she liked what I did though it must have been the worst haircut I have ever given anyone. When I came back, with my mother’s support I trained my staff for 6 months, there were five of us in all. I hired two college co-coordinators who brought 25 to 30 students in everyday for haircuts.
What were the initial challenges you faced when you started Bounce?
When I opened Bounce at Ispahani Centre, everyone thought I was mad. I spent 85 lakhs on the salon and each chair cost Rs.50,000 and came from Italy. I charged 350 for a basic haircut. However, I really saw a market for that and have proved Chennai had this niche market.
How open are Chennaites to new haircuts and styles?
I think Chennai has improved amazingly since I started. There may be issues on the really funky haircuts as people feel that others will stare at them. I did have that initially but we set that tone to very fashion forward, very high fashion salon and succeeded.
What is the latest trend now?
A haircut is very personal, a cut and color is based on skin tone, what you do as a profession and your style. This differs from person to person. If you ask me internationally, for women, it’s keeping your hair long, say shoulder length with waves and asymmetric fringes. Long hair is gone for men. Short hair textured or cropped is in. A few years ago, there was not much importance given to hair, but now even a 4 year old in a commercial has spiked hair. Hairdressing is becoming a huge phenomenon.
How much are hair trends influenced by our film industry?
Hugely! Look at the Tamil movie industry. In the last few years, hair styling has become very important. Suriya always gives it importance. After Ghajini, many walked in asking for that style. Many stars come to me when they start a movie. I also meet the costume designer, director and producer to plan the look.
What were the recent films you completed?
I gave Ajith the spiked up stylish look in Asal. I have done a lot of work for Vishnu in Bale Pandiya. I have also done Indihey Indihu, a remake of a Telugu film about 15 college kids.
Tell us a little about your experiences with the stars you have worked with?
I have done a lot of creative work with Suriya. Besides Ghajini, in Sillunnu oru kaadal, I have tried many looks. Simbhu is also open to experimentation depending on what the role calls for. We did some crazy red hair for him once. Vijay is a regular too and he likes the place. Vikram does not experiment too much. As for the heroines, they need to keep the length of the hair and so do not work with it too much.
What do you think is the secret of your success?
Everybody is looking to be treated the way they want others to treat them. So service is No.1. I have been told it’s the best in the country. Creativity is our strength and it is all about working with your heart and passion.
Did your parents give you a free hand when you decided to start on your own?
My mom is my guru. I owe everything I have to her.
What is the difference between your approach and her approach to business?
She’s got a motherly approach and treats her staff like her own kids. She’s emotional and a micro-manager. I macro manage; I give people responsibility, train and put them in a position. If they are unable to cope, I steer them in the right direction. Otherwise I let them use their talent. I have built a very strong team.
What is your dream?
Our country still looks down upon hairdressing as a third rate profession though it’s considered a mainstream profession abroad. In India too, educated youngsters who want to do something creative, exciting and artistic must take this up.