The trend towards discerning lifestyles has crept into the bastion of male grooming with a growing demand for exclusivity. As CEO of Gentlemen’s Tonic Malaysia, Fiqri Hylmanshah is an inspiring young entrepreneur who has moved into this niche field with the belief that such establishments should not be just for grooming, but also a place of comfort to chill with the boys from the neighbourhood. Top10 of Malaysia talks to Fiqri on his journey within the male grooming service industry and the successes that have been achieved.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, Fiqri Hylmanshah ventured into business right after secondary school. “I was involved in managing businesses as I was more interested in the huge potential that existed within the service industries,” says Fiqri. “Consumers were constantly on the go for new lifestyle choices in seeking the ‘wow’ factor and I was eager to tap into that market. I wanted to provide services that were based on fresh ideas, yet connected with customers.”
It was the luxury male grooming industry that got Fiqri’s attention. “Barber services have long been lurking in the shadows of traditional Indian barbers and unisex salons. The timing was right for starting niche services exuding a retro elegant charm, reverting to the heydays of a place for male communal companionship,” says Fiqri.
Fiqri’s first establishment, Ramlee’s Sport Barbersclub is based on the concept of a sports club with the retro Ramlee era feel, and has bloomed into just this. Its rapid growth is evident through the opening of another two outlets recently.
There have been further initiatives to move into the upper-middle class segment. “The objective of moving into the higher-end segment is due to the high demand for exclusive services with very few establishments catering for this segment,” explains Fiqri.
This was achieved in July 2016 through the opening of Gentlemen’s Tonic Malaysia within the upscale neighbourhood of Solaris Dutamas. The venture has attracted a list of clientele, with a majority being expatriates.
“I did look around for suitable locations within Kuala Lumpur and finally selected this location as the people who come here, especially expatriates, are looking for exclusive services. Most would have travelled overseas and would be familiar with luxury brands such as Gentlemen’s Tonic,” says Fiqri on the reason for choosing the current location.
Founded in 2004, Gentlemen’s Tonic is an exclusive British grooming establishment targeted towards men. The products do not contain chemical additives, paraben and synthetic materials. “The products are aligned to environmental standards, which is the preferred choice for discerning customers,” reveals Fiqri.
Gentlemen’s Tonic provides a full range of personal services ranging from hair-cuts, shaving, trimming, scalp treatments and coloring to others such as threading, waxing and massage services. The physical layout consists of four barber stations, a private room and a massage room with each station fully equipped for customer needs and exuding an ambience of subtle elegance.
The brand’s very own male grooming products can also be purchased. The Babassu and Bergamot range of Eau de Toilettes is 100% natural, whilst their Advanced Derma-Care range is the first cosmeceutical range devised exclusively for men and is designed to be a targeted, anti-aging solution. The products are based on Gentlemen’s Tonic Professional Facial Range and can be found in many of the world’s leading spas and hotels.
Most of the staff especially in the grooming services come from the Middle-East. “Places in the Middle-East, especially Turkey, have a long tradition in men’s grooming services. In fact, the skill and experience possessed by them is globally acknowledged,” says Fiqri.
As managing director of the companies under his belt, Fiqri concedes that there are challenges in running the businesses. “The experiences I have gained, plus the support of my family and staff help me in running the business. I always try to inspire my 20-strong staff force to consider my achievements despite my age, as I am younger than most of them.”
Fiqri’s advice to those intending to start a business is, “Just do it”.d