Choose Beauty: An Interview with Farouk Shami, The CHI Man
American by Choice
The Founder of Farouk Systems, Farouk Shami, believes in the principles of hard work, education and doing the right thing and has applied them for thirty successful years.
My hometown: The Woodlands, TX
Beauty industry icon: Vidal Sassoon
Personal hero: Former President Bill Clinton
How I relax: Swimming
Title of my autobiography: “American by Choice: The CHI Man”
My mantra: Education, Environment and Ethics
When we ask the short answer question of our Choose Beauty profile subjects, “Title of your autobiography” we usually mean what would it be called if it were to be written. In Farouk Shami’s case, that book has been written, published and read many times over by people looking to be inspired by this professional beauty industry icon, leader and self-starter. “American By Choice: The CHI Man” describes Shami’s journey from childhood in Palestine to beauty school in Arkansas to owning a salon in Texas and ultimately founding Farouk Systems and the CHI, BioSilk and SunGlitz brands.
Allergic to Failure
Farouk became an accidental entrepreneur to save his hairdressing career; he developed an allergy to the ammonia in haircolor so developed an alternative, SunGlitz, an ammonia-free hair color and lightening system. That was the beginning of 30 years of innovation. During the upcoming Farouk 19th Annual International Conference, September 18-22, 2015 in Cancun, Mexico the company will be celebrating Farouk Systems’ history and unveiling its future plans, including a collaboration with mega-star Beyoncé. “She will be coming out with her own haircare and tools by CHI,” says Shami. “Her mother had a beauty salon so she comes from the beauty business. We will be working with her to choose the products and the packaging and it will be a line for multi-cultural hair, following what she believes in and what has been good for her.”
Today, Shami’s son, Basim Shami, has taken on the day-to-day operations and holds the position of CEO at Farouk Systems which allows Shami more time to innovate and invent; he holds 23 international patents and 14 US patents. “Not bad for a hairdresser, right?” said Shami. “I have been so fortunate to live the American Dream and at the same time to have my son, Basim, who is the expert in marketing, expanding the business into so many doors and contributing to so much growth. If you work hard, there is so much opportunity here.”
Shami has always been passionate about giving hairdressers the tools and product they need to be successful. Most important of all, he wants to provide them with quality education. CHI has opened over 500 schools with half of a million students. “I didn’t expect it to grow this quickly. Our goal is to establish 1,000 CHI Academies, worldwide. Education is the key to success. In the future, we will have a better quality of hairdresser from a business and artistic point of view. They are becoming more environmentally aware and safety of their products is a main concern.”
Asked to look back over the past 30 years, Shami says one of his proudest moments has been receiving an honorary Doctorate of Beauty Art “in recognition of his outstanding achievements and invaluable contributions to the academic and cultural development of the world wide beauty industry” from Seo Kyeong University in South Korea.
“Research and development, it is my hobby, my passion and my profession. This is what has made us successful, because we keep innovating. I am always going to be thinking of what I can do to give the hairdresser more service possibilities, how to keep them healthy and how to give her client beautiful hair.”