Hair Stylist Sunny Motiani
I have never been nervous while I sit to interview people. Excited, yes; but never nervous. Today, I am nervous. To put it more specifically, I am nervous about my hair. Sunny Motiani is one of the most celebrated hair stylists of the city and while I sit at the café with my partner waiting for him; I can’t help but run my fingers through my hair over and over again to ensure they are okay. My partner was his school friend and for him it’s more like a reunion than an interview. He’s excited, obviously! And there walks in Sunny with a nonchalant, buoyant body language and settles on the seat before us. And then like magic, I see two grown up men turn into school boys as Sunny and my partner reminiscent of the days from school. The moment Sunny catches my eye I blurt out a question I wanted to ask for a while.
“What’s your name?”
We laugh. “My name is Khushwant Motiani.”
“So what’s the deal with Sunny-ism?”
“The definition of ‘ism’ is that it’s a process. It’s continuous and that’s how I see myself. I am consistently evolving and trying to better myself.”
He explains with a smile.
For some weird reason I keep glancing at his hair every other minute. I try to put that away and proceed.
“When did you fall in love with…”
“Hair?” he completes the question. “I know it’s an awkward question to ask”, he nods.
“Yes, when did this happen?” my partner asks.
“You should know this!” Sunny nudges my partner. “I think it was John Abraham in Dhoom and then Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I have always experimented a lot with my hair. I was scolded and punished in school several times for the kind of hairstyles I carried. He knows all those stories.” Okay this whole guy thing is difficult to cut into. And while I am lost in this thought the guys narrate a couple of stories on how Sunny was punished in school and what kind of hairstyles he carried with panache back then.
“What happened after that?” I ask him.
“I started out at home for a bit. My classmates were my clients. Guys love punk and I could do that style and they loved it. My friend Tapan Keswani got his younger brother, Mohit Keswani, to my place with a hair gel bottle and asked me to style his hair. Mohit is still my client. But all this was in school days you know.” He shares.
“When did you start believing that you could make a career out of it?” My partner asks.
“This one time my parents were driving me back home from tuitions and they asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I will either get into IIM for an MBA or become a lawyer or become a hair stylist. My parents rejected the first two ideas. The next day we attended a workshop at Belleza. It was conducted by someone from L’Oreal. He took my aptitude test and asked me to do a six months course in Mumbai from L’Oreal. The next thing I know I was in Mumbai pursuing hair styling.”
“That’s fantastic! How was the experience at L’Oreal?” my partner asks.
“It was incredible. Those guys are really sophisticated and brilliant at what they do. It also showed me how this industry is one of the most reputed all over the world. It was absolute fun mixed with learning.”
Sunny is the owner of Aeon Salons today and I ask him how did he start off with all that.
“He shares how he bought the place and then branched out as well. Today, Aeon is at Naranpura and at Vastrapur. I gave a hair cut to cricketer Piyush Chawla and also to team England when they were here. It was absolute fun styling Kevin Peterson and others. They were totally chilled out and that just made me feel extremely comfortable.”
I could see the spark in his eyes as he talked about the episode.
“What is the story behind the name of your salon?” I ask him.
“Aeon means eternity and/or the age and beauty of the stars. This is something that resounded how I wanted my clients to feel. Also, Aeon is going to be eternal whether Sunny is there or not. That’s how I see it.”
“What is it that you do apart from hair styling?” my partner asks.
“I love travelling. I have travelled a lot and I used to love partying too. But I met with a terrible accident and almost lost my life. So after 2010, I have changed. I have evolved rather. I also lecture on beauty in seminars and share my knowledge with people. I was also a state level boxer once.”
My partner is stumped since he didn’t know about this side to Sunny at all.
“Women walk into your salon with so many expectations how do you deal and deliver those?”
“I think it’s all about pampering the client and getting them to know their feminine beautiful side. Most women complain about their hair and you need to make them feel comfortable about their hair first. And the tip for nurturing should follow this way:
Care, Cut, Style and Fun
This is something most people don’t follow. Also at Aeon we suggest products, we don’t sell them. Whether it’s a further reference or a tip; I see to it that nobody leaves my salon empty handed.” He smiles.
“How do you feel about all the praise and success you have garnered so far?”
“You know I have travelled, saved money, lost it and got back gain. I don’t believe that a graph must only go up. Loss is equally important to teach you the value of success. And when you are riding high on success be very careful with the expenditure. It’s always better to curb the expenses and save more. When I was young I used to take advises from people, at 23 I started sharing my plans and now at 25 I cross check most of the things. There is a sense of peace in knowing that things are so well settled that they can now function without you as well. I feel like I equalise my parents stand today. Eight and a half years in this industry has taught me a lot.”
I cannot agree more!
“What’s that one tip you want to give about hair care?” I ask and I am all ears for that valued tip.
“Go for a consultation with your trusted hair stylist. Shampoo and condition your hair as often as your stylist has suggested. Please only use the shampoo, conditioner and styling product he has asked you to use.”
“Did someone ever put you down when you were starting out?”
“No! I wasn’t a threat to most people since my career goals and those of my friends and people around me were extremely polarized in the opposite directions. My friends have always stood by me. I am more of a doer and not a thinker; so I leave the thinking for my friends to do and help me with things. Also I genuinely believe that my sportsmanship will never let me down.” He answers.
“What’s your motto?” my partner asks.
“Work in progress”, he answers simply and signs off.
Like they say,
“A good man is hard to find, but a good hairstylist is next to impossible.”
I managed to find mine here, did you?