Pioneering in an area which was not established as a market at all and truly following her passion despite all the criticisms and hardships, Vandana Luthra has marked a tremendous journey with VLCC.
Today VLCC is a household name. However, when Luthra embarked on this journey, a wellness centre was unheard of. So much so that, in her initial years she faced tremendous challenges educating people about and opening them up to the idea of adopting wellness regimes and initiative in their lives.
“When I started, there were hardly any women entrepreneurs. It was a male-dominated environment. I had to face a lot of criticism, a lot of people tried to ensure that I did not succeed and grow. The only thing I believed in was that my concept was unique, unusual and it was being introduced in India for the first time,” she says.
Right from its inception, she was clear to focus her brand around health and wellness rather than glamour. She believed strongly on the dire need of including wellness in our lives. The centre was conceptualized and operated as a clinic and continues to do so even today.
So what inspired her to follow the path of wellness?
Luthra had grown up looking at her mother helping people around feel better. She was an Ayurvedic doctor running a charitable initiative – ‘Amar Jyoti’. Luthra wanted to help people too but took it a notch further.
“I loved the idea of impacting someone’s life and making things better for them.”
She ideated about presenting her clients with a holistic approach by adding beauty to wellness. She laid importance on nutrition, physical health and grooming to be combined together.
She wanted to create a holistic centre where the customer walks in and everything from the top to the toe is taken care of. Why keep running around and wasting time at different places when everything could be provided for at one.
After her graduation, she moved to Europe keeping her dream in mind. Across Germany, UK and France, she honed herself in the realm of beauty, nutrition, skin-care and fitness.
On her return, she started her VLCC journey in 1989 from New Delhi. Her in-laws were not very supportive in general, but she got the tables to turn with great difficulty.
Her husband was willing to fund her endeavour, however, Luthra wanted to stand on her own and financed VLCC from a small bank loan.
Today VLCC is not only a wellness centre but a training institute too. It houses a comprehensive portfolio of beauty and wellness products with operations in over 150 cities.
VLCC is now global covering 14 countries across Asia and Africa (first international centre opened in Dubai in 2005). It has two manufacturing units (at Haridwar and Singapore) and is all set for opening up in other continents soon too!
The unique idea and positioning of VLCC coupled with the passionate efforts of Vandana have made it such humungous success. So much so that, Luthra hit break-even in the first month itself when she opened her first centre back in the 80s.
More about the wonder-lady herself?
Luthra’s achievements have no bounds. She was awarded the Padma Shri recognition in 2013. The current government chose her to chair the Beauty & Wellness Sector Skill Council and rightly so. Her contribution in introducing the wellness industry to Indians is what truly sets her apart.
Moreover, Luthra was awarded as ‘Asia’s Greatest Brands & Leaders 2017’ and listed as the 33rd most powerful woman in business in India 2015 (by Fortune India).
She is also the proud author of two books namely – “Complete Fitness Programme” and “A Good Life”.
Luthra is extremely invested at VLCC, whether it is remembering the names of all her staff, randomly visiting stores across cities or interacting with her team to problem solve.
She is definitely one super grand mommy (yes she is a grandmother of 3 now)! She keeps travelling to fairs across the world for R & D and updates on the latest trends in the industry.
She believes Indian women are all great managers. She says – “we have that inherent balancing act together and also the art of giving.” “We imbibe this from working long hours to get the family together at home, bringing up children etc.” This makes for great entrepreneurs!