It has been rightly said, “You can juggle motherhood while running a business and be great at both.” Vandana Luthra, the founder of VLCC Health Care Ltd. has proven this with her hard work, resilience and zest to dispense best to the society. Vandana had a substantial vision to bring about a futuristic change in the beauty and wellness industry. With a willingness to transform a simple ‘beauty parlor’, she brought in doctors, nutritionists and technological advancements to provide a head-to-toe solution. Despite all the odds, Luthra has managed to make VLCC a globally recognized brand.
“Happy mind and a healthy body is all the wealth you need.”
The Genesis and The Struggle
“During my graduation days in Delhi, I came across several who wanted to lose weight and look beautiful. This made me realize that there is a market for my business proposition.”
Born in 1959, in New Delhi, Vandana completed her graduation from the Polytechnic for Women in Delhi. She travelled to Europe (Germany) to complete her studies in nutrition and cosmetology. Her greatest inspirations were her parents. She travelled with her father, a mechanical engineer, on his work trips to Germany. She dreamt of bringing the well-established health and wellness centres of Germany to India. Her mother, an Ayurveda doctor by profession administered a charitable initiative, Amar Jyoti. Such an obliging background stimulated her to launch her own business.
“My mother’s dedication towards her family and her work ethics have shaped my entire life.”
Vandana set up her first VLCC (Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves) Centre in Safdarjung Enclave in New Delhi in 1989 as a single salon. The beauty and wellness centre focused on diets, exercise and weight management programs. Since then she has been able to build a sustainable business that operates across Asia and Africa.
The Persistent Vision
Vandana started her journey in a period when the society was not so progressive and one could hardly find women entrepreneurs. In a patriarchal society, women were limited to household chores and thus Mrs. Luthra faced a lot of criticism. She even said that many others wanted to subdue her progress and stunt her growth. During her times, there was lack of knowledge in the field of fitness, wellness and adequate nutrition. Vandana labored a lot to create awareness and later, impacted people with her theory.
She was way ahead in time to integrate medical profession with wellness and struggled to uphold this concept. She commenced her journey after both her daughters were born, the elder one being only 3 years old. Hence, she balanced her professional work and personal life very well. Vandana has stated that her husband, Mukesh Luthra always supported her in everything she wanted to achieve.
Her focus, determination and belief in her unique idea is something, budding and women entrepreneurs can learn from. It also serves as a lesson for the males to pillar their female counterparts.
“Just decide who you are going to be and pursue your dream against all odds.”
The Growth and The Pinnacle
Having a distinctive notion itself, Luthra got success in the initial stages. But it is her promotional techniques that led to greater peaks. She considered her own start-up as a clinic and promoted it on those lines. She worked hours with doctors and provided her customers with marvellous results.
Today, VLCC has the largest scale of operations in India and is recognized internationally for comprehensive beauty and wellness products and services. VLCC is currently serving 14 countries in Asia, South East Asia and East Africa with over 330 locations in their kitty. They have 3 company-owned manufacturing units for personal care products. The well-established company manufactures and markets 170 hair, skin and body care products along with fortified food, meant for in-house consumption.
In addition to the business, VLCC operates a skill development, vocational training enterprise, “The VLCC Institute of Beauty and Nutrition.” It presently has 79 campuses in 54 cities.
Recent introduction to the business have been the Vanity Cube – a-beauty-services-at-home platform and WellScience – a direct seller of nutraceuticals.
VLCC currently has a family of 4500 employees with over 30 nationalities. The successful lady founder makes it a point to try and stay connected with all of them
“I don’t believe in preaching ideologies. I believe in work. Let your work speak for what you believe in what you commit to.”
Entrepreneurs can learn the importance of right direction and art of expansion from her.
CNBC had listed Vandana Luthra as one of India’s top 10 self-made richest women with a net worth of INR 1,300 crore. She has received the Padma Shri Award (India’s fourth highest civilian honour) for her contribution to trade and industry. She has even been awarded The Asian Business Leaders Forum Trailblazer Award in 2012 and The Enterprise Asia Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010.
The boss lady has featured in Fortune magazine’s annual listing of the ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Business in India’ for five years in a row – from 2011 to 2015. This great entrepreneur is also the chairperson of the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC).
She has written two books named Complete Fitness Programme and A Good Life.
Her Philosophy, Our Learning
A mother of two daughters, Vandana, has always sought to lead by example. According to her, an empowered woman is someone who adapts to changes bringing out the best in an individual. As a leader, Luthra believes that it is important to have a vision and that, all criticism should be taken constructively. Self-determination is a major quality that she attributes to her success. She champions that one should stay focused and look for motivation from within. Vandana through her self-learning advocates that finding your own unique style is what builds upon an individual’s personality.
Her organization is women-dominated and thus they understand the numerous roles a woman has to perform at home and at work. Hence her firm constantly engages in keeping them motivated. Her contribution to society is immense. She is the vice chairperson of NGO Khushii, which has projects like remedial schools with midday meal facilities.
“I started something because I wanted to be independent. A woman never gets empowered unless she earns.”
Thus we can learn to have a clear vision and materialize it against the infinite odds from her.
“A positive mind can tackle the worst of the challenges.”