Beauty & the digital interface

September 27, 2020

This new world that we have landed in is nudging us towards technology over tactile interaction. Always ahead of the curve, Nabila is prepared for the change the beauty industry must embrace, irony intended.

Nabila and her son Zakir are an extension of one another: clear headed, minimalist and visually very Japanese anime, their collaboration intends to take the brand into the future.

In the post-Covid world, nothing has changed as drastically as the business of beauty. After a complete five-month lockdown, salons in Pakistan opened in August but with very stringent SOPs and a radical shift in consumer behaviour. Sitting under a hair dryer, a cup of well brewed coffee in hand, chatting up your friends on both sides as you get a complimentary foot massage, is now a thing of the past. New salon behaviour sees you in and out as quickly as possible.

Nabila, however, is a brand that has proven its longevity; consistently mercurial, the woman behind the name has a solution for every issue at hand. Nabila’s sons are now old enough to bring their strengths to the business and her daughter-in-law, Sara, headlines the art direction and figures as a key contributor to the brand. They all add to the blue print that this name now proudly presents as the future of the beauty business. Post-Covid, it is headlined by a new modus operandi and technology that’ll limit your engagement to the touch of a button.

“Nabila as a brand has always been flexible and vigilant to the need of the moment,” Nabila says as we sit down to talk, all masked up and responsibly seated at a distance from one another. Her son Zakir, who’s studied Fashion Branding & Marketing in Spain and now supervises the brand’s digital expansion, joins us. Together Nabila and Zakir are an extension of one another: clear headed, minimalist and visually very Japanese anime.

“After corona I feel like the whole world is going to change and never go back to hugging or shaking hands and socializing the way we used to and therefore the salon business is going to change,” Nabila says. “I think I also want to democratize fashion and take it to people’s homes, make it very accessible and affordable for everyone. Whether it is through apps or reaching out or competitive pricing or very convenient services or whether it is through products that can replace salon visits. The decisions we are making are very directional.”

And where does Zakir, who’s been studying and then working in Barcelona for the past 13 years, come in?

“So, the technology, the Apps, building the beauty tech side, refreshing brand Nabila and taking it into the future…that’s what Zakir’s vision is for beauty,” Nabila explains. “Of course, he has been working with me officially on Zero for the past five years and is handling Zero international and he’s done a great job with it. I think what I am expecting from this collaboration with Zakir is that the brand Nabila will gain longevity, will have a fresh perspective, young blood and beauty tech direction.”

This new direction points at the development and launch of a new App, which will allow clients to book home services online, get private consultations and even expertise on what products to buy and incorporate in DIYs, all online. A one-stop solution to all beauty queries, products, solutions and hacks included. The idea is that if women and men are uncomfortable coming to the salon, the salon will come to them.

“This is not news if you look at the global landscape of luxury and definition of fashion services; hair, makeup, retail etc. It was already on the forecast but it was heavily accelerated by Covid,” says Zakir.

“It is heartbreaking to say but human interaction, consumer psychology and consumer mindset has changed forever. So the two questions I asked myself were, where do people feel the most comfortable, the answer is in their homes. The second question was where do people spend most of their time, the answer is on their phones. So the logical evolution was to be in those places; I wanted to get there, I wanted to have access not just through the App but also through social media, through communication and branding strategies and so on. This is something that we are heavily pushing and accelerating towards.”

Nabila certainly is busy developing a brand that evolves in sync with the age of technology and responsible development. She’s got business expansion, ethical responsibility and carbon footprint in mind. The services her brand of beauty offer are already a 360 degree landscape for hair and beauty; they begin with salon services that cater to hair-care and makeup, nail care and brides/grooms and extend to creative conceptualization and image consultancy for fashion editorials, corporate campaigns, television and film projects, award shows, celebrities and of course, the Zero makeup range that is well on its way to becoming a DNVB (digitally native vertical brand).

“Our flagship is online, in fact 92 per cent of our customers are coming from mobile, so even more so the brand has been digitized in the sense that it is humanized,” shares Zakir. “It has a personality. We are not saying that what we are trying to do is replace human elements, no way, but what we are trying to do is use digital tools to accelerate this further and extend our reach. Like Nabila said, the idea is to democratize beauty and put it in the hands of more and more people.”

Beauty & the digital interface