Had teenager Hina Nazir Sheikh known the costs of chasing her dream of opening a beauty parlour in trouble torn Kashmir, she might have never pursued it. Seema Qadri talks to the maverick beautician whose fate changed with the changing political history of Kashmir
In the fall of 2007, after completing her 12th standard examinations, Hina Nazir Sheikh, now 25, told her parents that she wants to open a beauty parlour
The mere mention of opening a beauty parlour in Kashmir raised eyebrows and drew criticism from almost everyone including Hina’s parents. “It is not a respectable profession. Who will marry a beauty parlour girl?” asked her parents.
But Hina was not an easy one to convince. She had her eyes set on her goal.
By early 2008, Hina has rented a commercial space in uptown Hyderpora, and was making plans to design the place according to her requirements. But things did not go as per planning. “At the last moment I was told by the authorities that this space has no permission for running a commercial enterprise,” recalls Hina.
Heartbroken, but not cowed down, Hina rented another space in a nearby market place and invested some 40 thousand rupees in decorating the shop. The initial response was good. Hina was happy to finally realize her dream of working independently.
But by August 2008, Kashmir was simmering against ‘illegal’ land transfer to Amarnath Shrine board and subsequent economic blockade by Jammu based Hindu right wing parties. Including all other commercial establishments Hina’s parlour remained locked for months. “It was heartbreaking to say the least as things came to a halt abruptly after going smoothly for a couple of months,” says Hina.
As Hina was not able to pay the rent for her shop, it was ultimately closed down. “The best thing for me at that point of time was to wind up everything and go back to finish my studies,” says Hina.
In 2008, Hina was already in her 2nd year of graduation. Eventually, she picked up from where she had left. But the urge to complete her unfinished dream didn’t let her stay at peace.
After the revocation of controversial land transfer order and some 55 innocent killings later when life started to get back to normal in Kashmir, Hina geared herself up once again to chase her dream of running a beauty parlour for women.
This time she approached Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) in Pampore for necessary finance and training to kick start her dream venture afresh. “I zeroed in on a shop in Lal Chowk for the purpose. But the landlord was reluctant to sing a written rent deed with me which EDI required,” says Hina. “I was once again left hunting for a suitable space to operate from.”
It took Hina a while to narrow down her search to Nowhatta area in old city Srinagar. The place seemed ideal as it was located in the centre of downtown and accessible from all areas. By spring 2010, Hina was again in business, talking orders in bulk for marriage ceremonies and parties. “I was doing good business. Things started to look better finally. I was content with the outcome of my dream venture,” says Hina.
At Nowhatta too Hina named her venture: Butterflies. “My parents were happy that finally I have overcome all stumbling blocks and was adding to the family income,” says Hina, who lives with her two sibling and working parents in Rambagh.