Any woman in the region who enjoys indulging in a spot of pampering will have visited Tips & Toes. From manicures and pedicures to massages and blow-dries its salons are second to none. With 34 sites across the U.A.E and Saudi Arabia, founder Tina Ghafurian shares her story of how she created one of the region’s most successful salon brands.
Why did you decide to launch a salon in Dubai?
Life is full of surprises. I never thought I would end up in the beauty industry! Before I moved to Dubai in 2001 to complete an MBA at the American University of Dubai I was working in fashion. Whilst studying a friend asked me to do some market research for their distribution company, Creative Nail Design. From there I fell in love with the beauty industry, especially the diversity, best practices and innovation side of it. It is so fast-paced and there is always something new happening, so I found this very exciting.
I eventually became a sales manager in one of the major beauty stores in 2004, where I was approached by a lady who asked me if I can help her open the first branch of nail salons in the region. She had already booked a few retail locations for her concept, and that was it. This for me was a great opportunity and a great challenge. I accepted the offer and Tips & Toes was born right after. After a few months of research and planning, the first Tips & Toes was launched in 2005 in Al Fardan, Sharjah. Today Tips & Toes operates in over 34 salons across the UAE and provides unique services to more than 70,000 people per month.
How have you become one of the most trusted salon brands in the Middle East?
At Tips & Toes, our number one priority has always been our people. We want them to feel valued and to enjoy doing what they do. We train them and help them grow within our family, and make them feel like they have a home away from home. There are always fun activities going on across our branches and head office to inspire and motivate our staff. With happy staff comes happy customers.
At Tips & Toes, we welcome all ladies and will do our best to provide a consistent and amazing service across all of our branches. Whether you are a businesswoman, new mother or a teenager having her first service done, you will be welcomed with a warm smile and will be offered service beyond your expectations. One of the things ladies miss about Dubai or other Emirates when they move from this country is their moments in Tips & Toes!
What has been your biggest lesson over the past 15 years?
My biggest lesson was that I need to be open. I need to hear my team out and ask for help with open arms and an open heart. I also believe that everything happens for a reason.
Have you come across any setbacks?
Where would I even begin? Any leader will tell you that the only thing you should be prepared for is the unexpected. Every day we come across something that needs to be fixed. It’s not the problem but how you get out of these situations that matters. This was especially true in 2015. We had a plan to open nine shops in a single year. Pushing forward we soon realized that we would need a lot more manpower to achieve this goal. We overcame this setback by working together as a team and bringing on new talents who were right for the job.
How have you overcome them?
When you run a business as big as Tips & Toes it all comes down to your staff and those around you. For us, this is 1,200 people. It is important to realize that you can’t do it all alone. Make sure you hire people who you can trust and most importantly trust them! Micromanaging is a one-way ticket to failure and burnout. You see it all the time. You need to make sure you have an open dialogue with your staff. Communication is key. In difficult times my motto is, “This too shall pass” but I say it with a trust in myself and my team.
Why is corporate social responsibility so important to you?
CSR is the top of the list of our company’s mission, as it should be for all companies. The owner of the company is always supporting any cause for CSR and we are so lucky to have him by our side. We have to give back to the society where we live and work and remember those who are less privileged. There is nothing more important and no better feeling than helping others and we try and do this in all aspects of our business.
It is also really important for us to give back to the community that has supported us from day one. As well as supporting causes such as Breast Cancer Awareness annually, we also try and come up with our own campaigns. Identifying ways to really help individuals. As so many of our campaigns ask our customers to help too, we want them to see the results of their donations or contributions. I really believe this helps encourage people to get involved and creates a stronger sense of community, bringing together our team, our customers and whoever we are trying to help.
Tell us about your current campaign?
Our most recent CSR campaign was titled ‘Women Empowering Women’. The purpose was to equip those wonder-women in the region who have fought through critical times in their lives, with personal and professional skills. These skills can help them to support themselves and their families. Women are really persistent and can move mountains when we collaborate; this is one of the core values of Tips & Toes. We decided to donate one hour of training for every customer who spends AED 250/- for services in our salons.
These training hours are being used to provide programs for front office and supervisory roles, equipping the women with transferable skills which not only are suitable for a salon environment but also in other fields of the business. Along with skill-based learnings, we have been thoughtful in selecting training topics focused on confidence building, self-motivation, stress management, emotional intelligence, communication, and other interpersonal skills. So far, we have accumulated an overwhelming number of 42,430 training hours.
What are your plans for the future?
My plan is to train more and more leaders and not managers in our industry.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry?
Trust yourself. Do the right study as this business might look very glitzy from the outside, but actually the beauty industry is a very difficult one to survive in. From making profits to taking care of your team, I can’t say how much learning and development is important.
What’s next for Tips & Toes?
Tips & Toes is always looking to be the most innovative it can be and also provide the best quality service. We have team members flying across the world to learn new techniques and source new products to keep us ahead of the game on a global level. We want to be the best and to set an example for other salons and spas, not only in the UAE but globally.
Alongside all the new amazing services, we will also be having some new branches opening across the UAE over the coming months. Keep an eye out on the next ‘work in progress’ sign close to you, which might be the next and most luxurious Tips & Toes location in the heart of UAE! We are also looking into becoming more sustainable and the organic beauty movement.