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Vandana Luthra: Transforming the Definition of Wellness

In an interview with Insights Success, the founder and the charioteer of VLCC, Mrs. Vandana Luthra shares her insights behind the success of her journey as an entrepreneur. The ardently acknowledged leader has driven the health, fitness and skin care company to a global scale with her contemporary and innovative management skills. Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Mrs. Luthra and Insights Success:
Give us a detailed background of your journey as a leader. 
I started VLCC with a simple dream. I wanted to create an environment where people would feel nurtured and supported; a place that would inspire people to be the best version of themselves, for themselves. During the last 29 years, while building the brand VLCC, there were numerous occasions when I had to struggle against all odds to fulfill my dream. Being in a largely unorganized sector, I struggled to raise capital, and banks were apprehensive of something that was hardly deemed as sustainable and scalable.
It was sheer perseverance and my interest in ‘transforming lives’ that made me stay on this path. To be able to make a difference in people’s life be that of VLCC’s clients or staff which constitute 70% women, gave me a sense of achievement and truly encouraged me to build this brand.
What are the services/products offered by VLCC? 
In the 29 years since it was established, VLCC has been driven by its mission of ‘Transforming Lives’, delivering best-in-class beauty and wellness services to millions of consumers. Its presence today spans over 330 locations in 14 countries across Asia and Africa.
Employing over 4,500 professionals, the VLCC Group operates three highly integrated businesses in the Wellness domain – Weight Management and Beauty services, delivered through a chain of over 250 VLCC Beauty and Wellness Centers; Skill Development Institutes for Beauty and Nutrition and manufacturing, in two company-owned plants in India and one in Singapore, over 250 skin-care, hair-care and body care products.
VLCC is also a leading player in the fast-growing ondemand services space in India, with VLCC VanityCube, which currently offers beauty service in 4 cities in India. It also has a presence in the direct selling domain, with its VLCC Wellscience range of nutraceuticals.
What led you to start VLCC? What was your pivotal moment? 
My initial interest in the field of beauty and wellness came from my family. My greatest inspiration has always been my mother. I feel she was a woman ahead of her time. She was an Ayurvedic doctor and practiced yoga regularly, and was very particular about the family’s diet, which sowed the seeds of my interest in health and beauty at an early age. Not having conformed to the gender norms, I felt brave enough to give in to the feeling of venturing into an area that had always interested me. I could not have done this without the support of my husband Mukesh, who has been my pillar of strength from day 1.
When I started in 1989, the beauty and wellness industry was at a very nascent stage with a majority of the sector being unorganized. The concept of health and wellness centers wasn’t well established in India and this is where VLCC came into existence. I wanted to create a brand which would be the one-stop-shop solution for all beauty and wellness needs of people. My idea was unique and it was a successful concept which worked in our favor and clients started flocking to the center. Within a month we were able to break even which boosted my confidence and motivated me to expand the company into further territories.
What were the hurdles and obstacles that you had to face and overcome during the initial years as a leader? 
Being a women entrepreneur in the late-eighties, trying to scale up in a highly unorganized industry domain like beauty and wellness services was one of my biggest challenges initially. The idea of a holistic wellness center was not prevalent and nobody was ready to invest in my idea. Despite facing these initial hiccups, I firmly believed in my concept as it was unique and being introduced in India for the first time. It took years of hard work, dedication and patience to build VLCC into a global brand that it is today.
What according to you are the most important characteristics that every leader should possess in this day and age? 
When it comes to leadership, every person, especially women, have many odds stacked against them. From arranging for finance to establishing a stronghold in a male-dominated social environment, women have faced it all.
Despite all the challenges, one has to draw motivation from within. Passion, when combined with motivation, makes the journey a lot easier. A good leader must have faith in his/her abilities and the belief in their dream.
To conclude with, what would be your advice to some of the young and aspiring leaders? 
The road to success is not easy. One has to be confident in fighting against all obstacles and norms that are waiting to pull them down. Never give up on your dreams. The farther you are willing to stretch yourself, the greater could be the degree of success that you may end up achieving.
About the Company
VLCC, the chef-d’oeuvre of Vandana Luthra, has an evident multinational position. It offers weight management and beauty programmes encompassing advanced dermatology and cosmetology solutions. The organization’s weight management solutions include a unique DNA-based weight management system. It possesses domination in operations within the beauty and wellness services industry in India. At present, the VLCC stores operate in 330 locations in 14 countries in South Asia, South East Asia, the GCC
URL: VLCC Wellness
Source: The 30 Most Inspirational Business Leaders to Watch 2018