Industry Mentors: Vidal Sassoon and Paul Mitchell. “Paul always encouraged me to start a color company.”
Best advice ever received: “Lots of things we worry about will never happen. When I started the business, I worried all the time and John McCall said just worry about it when it happens. And when you do that, it relieves you.”
Proudest professional achievement: “Receiving a patent for SunGlitz.” (Today, he holds 10 patents.)
Career other than hairdressing: “Hairdressing. If I’m reborn, I would be a hairdresser.”
Guilty pleasure: “I smoke cigars.”
Hidden talent: “I’m an artist. I love to paint.”
Favorite color: “Red. It’s a color with a lot of motivating energy. It also means love.”
Farouk Shami, founder and chairman of Farouk Systems and the CHI, BioSilk and SunGlitz brands, has devoted his life to the professional salon industry.
Farouk Shami wears many hats: Miss Universe and Celebrity Apprentice judge, visionary, humanitarian, industry icon, entrepreneur, but Shami, describes himself with one word—hairdresser.
Shami has grown his hair care empire by following these guideposts— environment, education and ethics— with the hairdresser as his constant source of inspiration.
In the early ’80s, as a busy Texas salon owner and in-demand colorist, Shami developed an allergy to ammonia. But in adversity, he discovered opportunity.
“The start of Farouk was due to my allergy. This was my specialty, my income, my life. My choice was to give up or find a solution.” The result of his efforts was SunGlitz, an ammonia-free hair color and lightening system.
Motivated by this success, in 1986 he started Farouk Systems. His commitment to creating healthier products continued with CHI blow dryers, which emit low levels of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).
Shami’s Texas ranch has 10,000 olive trees and an organic herb garden that will be incorporated in product formulas and into a soon-to-launch natural skin care line. Shami is also preparing a more natural way to add volume and curl.
Shami has made a commitment to bettering education and the environment in the salon. “If you’re going to be a hairdresser, be the best hairdresser. Work hard and attend shows, seminars and really learn the business. You need to have the education and the confidence to talk to clients about the products they should be using. It’s not just about cutting and coloring; recommending is also part of your role.”
The International Salon and Spa Business Network presented Shami with its 2012 Legend Award, which recognizes success and innovation in the industry. In his acceptance speech Shami encouraged salon owners and manufacturers to be good global citizens. “Our responsibility is for our client our community, our city, our country and for the whole world. It’s not about money, it’s about principles.”
Shami gives generously to charitable causes and aid organizations worldwide. After the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, displaced many salon professionals, former Joplin resident Shami traveled there to offer support and supplies.
“The salon can be the center of communication for society. The relationships between hairdressers should be about helping each other with whatever they need. Farouk Systems is always there for the hairdresser.”