Ratna Kulkarni, Ever-Passionate Leader Focused on Turning non-profitable Spa Businesses into Profitable, Sustainable Ventures

Ratna Kulkarni
Ratna Kulkarni

Ratna Kulkarni, Ever-Passionate Leader Focused on Turning non-profitable Spa Businesses into Profitable, Sustainable Ventures

Ratna Kulkarni, Founder, Le Miroir Salon & Spa, is an amazing woman leader, motivated by the mantra of extraordinary efforts, incomparable services, the best client experience. She incepted her entrepreneurial journey in 2019 when she took the foundation of Le Miroir Salon & Spa.

Hailing from the small Vangaon village of Maharashtra with an insight, Ratna Kulkarni transformed into an incredible businesswoman, a hands-on entrepreneur, and a beauty coach guiding and training other aspiring entrepreneurs in the same domain. She did her schooling from Panchgani and later studied Botany at Pune’s Fergusson College after which she joined Ashwamegh Auto Ltd as a sales executive in 1991. Quickly rising up the professional ladder, I soon moved to finance debt.

In 2003, life dealt a cruel blow on her when she lost her husband to a road accident leaving her to look after their young daughter, an octogenarian dad-in-law, and an under-construction house. This was a difficult phase to overcome and seemed to be the end of the world but was not the end of the world. As said, What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly! Rising under the adversity, she set up herself as an independent Mutual Fund Distributor. Passionate about educating women on investment, she still continues as a mutual fund distributor while taking her brand to a higher altitude.

For her efforts and leadership as a fierce combatant spearheading the Le Miroir’s flanks and guaranteeing delivery of excellent service to every client, The CEO Magazine proudly recognizes Ratna Kulkarni in its 25 Iconic Businesswomen Need to Follow in 2022 issue. In an insightful interview with Ratna, the leading lady shared about the brand, key offerings, future plans, and her views about various aspects of the business.

TCM: What led to the coining of the idea to join the industry?

Ratna: Initially, I made an entry into the industry as a challenge to learn and manage something new. Soon, I understood the potential of the industry. Seeing girls taking selfies after haircuts, clients looking relaxed after a massage motivates me a lot. The ultimate goal of my spa and salon is to offer top-of-the-line customer service and make the clients feel pampered, relaxed, and refreshed.

TCM: Tell us about the key services/products which add value to the target clientele?

Ratna: Apart from Le Miroir Salon & Spa I also have my own line of organic facials called Satira which are very popular among the people. During the pandemic, I took to coaching salon owners and am now mentoring budding entrepreneurs in the industry. I get a very good response for my webinars. I talk about looking at the salon as a business, not just a passion.

Passion is required, yes but along with that, you need business acumen. Each salon owner must pay attention to every aspect of the business. Many of the owners refrain from spending money on advertisements thinking it is an expense. These kinds of ideas have to be cleared. I also stress the point of how important it is to understand a balance sheet or any financial statement.
There is not much awareness among the salon owners or the beauty industry that they too can take coaching and benefit from it. There is reluctance among the salon owners to take up the training. They all think they are very small enterprises and coaching is only for large companies. Franchisee owners are the ones who would benefit most from my coaching.

TCM: In your entrepreneurial journey, how did you overcome the challenges?

Ratna: A major life challenge I suffered in 2017, all my Salon staff along with my Front office staff left. And they opened a Salon two buildings away! My manager took away all my members. But I did not let that deter me! I just focused on getting all my customers back. I called back my stylist and beauticians.

TCM: How does your firm differ from the biggest competitors?

Ratna: My USP is our focus on the customer. It is the most important part of my business. The advantage my model has is that we focus on the model of a full-fledged spa with a salon on the same premises. All salons say spa and salon but the focus is more on the salon. My model is to have minimum of four dedicated rooms and therapists with a hair care and skincare salon

TCM: What are the upcoming trends in your industry?

Ratna: The inclusion of organic brands as a part of the inventory is one of the greatest salon marketing trends at this point. These days users are more conscious about what goes into the making of products. They want their products to be free of harmful chemicals like parabens, alcohol, and other cosmetic ingredients. This Is the reason why customers are shifting more towards organic products that are safer, environment-friendly, vegan, and not tested on animals.

TCM: What are the major hurdles you faced during the pandemic?

Ratna: The salon was closed for a long period 3 months in 2020, 2 months in 2021, and now a partial lockdown for a month!! In general, this brings down the morale of the staff. Some people leave for greener pastures. And of course, it takes another 2 months to get the required customer footfall. It is a very trying period!! But to boost the morale of the staff and keep them going is important! Even though it was not affordable had to give a raise to the staff.

“Don’t depend on anyone. Put efforts first into understanding what is required to run a salon business and then take it up. Just because the person has completed the course does not mean he/ she will be successful. Understanding the fact that it is a business like any other is important.”

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