Siddhanth Chettri, at 26 is the youngest Managing Director at Lakmé, but his age belies the maturity he has in dealing with his professional life.

Having lived in a hostel since he was 2 years old, as a kindergartener at Bethany’s School, Darjeeling to boarding at St. Joseph’s School, upuntil living alone while studying for his hotel management degree at Les Roches in Switzerland, he has learned how to be fiercely independent.

Apart from being effervescent yet approachable, one could be intimidated by his vivacity but he says that he’s the way he is because of his extensive stay in hostels. 

“Once you stay in boarding, you need to connect with people and that’s how I became so approachable. I like to be the first person to go and greet a new person in a room because I know how it feels”, he shares.

Like the fresh crop of young people who have both talent and intellect to bring about the necessary changes that communities in the hills need when it comes to the fashion and beauty industry, he is distressed by how people look at this field. 

“In Siliguri, people have the notion to look down on people who do hair and makeup and think that people who pick those careers would only find work at a parlour. People aren’t even able to differentiate between a parlour and a salon!” Siddhanth exclaims.

After working briefly in Bangalore, he returned home to Siliguri – a city with potential but still regressive in its approach to beauty. To open a salon was a dream that his mother had nurtured for years before his sister helped to make it come true – but when the whole process of building a salon/academy was completed, the question that arose was – who would run it?

From everyone in the family, there was only one person who had both energy and drive to take care of a business that dealt not only with beauty but had a big hand in the service industry. Siddhanth’s agreement to looking after the business was quick since he already had experience dealing with clients and events.  

He discusses how the dismissal of hairdressing and makeup artistry as a profession, unlike medical or IT jobs is so wrong. 

“In the fashion industry, there are three people who make up a look – the designer, model and the hair and makeup person. Just because they’re not in the limelight, people don’t realize how important their work is”, he expresses.

When asked about what changes he’s brought to his academy, compared to others in the city, he explains that his first task is to shift the outlook of his students, wherein they are taught to think beyond a salon and aim for jobs bigger than that. Taking the students to events where they can apply what they’ve learned and experience a different environment than their classroom, is essential. Although he mentions that the students are also taken to orphanages and hostels to give free haircuts to children, Siddhanth doesn’t feel it right to highlight it because he feels that this work is for oneself.

Unlike most bosses, he shares a lighter atmosphere with both staff and students because he stresses on how everyone should work out of respect, not fear. 

“We don’t go by sir or ma’am. We’ve been given such beautiful names from our parents, so we are all on a first-name basis – at least with the staff, because the students end up using sir. Ialways ask them to be who they are”, he tells.

Another remarkable thing about Siddhanth is his focus on often ignored details like making sure the customer’s every need is fulfilled. By every need, it boils right down to how comfortable the customer is with actually saying what they want to be done. 

“Right now, there is always a consultancy room – before we do any service, we consult the client privately because some of the clients know what they want but don’t feel comfortable telling it in public”, he informs.

His attention to detail filters through into his academy too. Not only at shoots that the students work at but with the making of CVs of the students and putting in the effort to conduct mock interviews. 

“I don’t want to make them an adequate candidate for potential jobs, but an ideal one”, tells Sidhant.

He says he enjoys watching the students transform, from shy people to a person who is most themselves when they are in their creative spaces, in the time they study at the academy.Plus, he explains that social media has been a big tool in how we view the beauty industry. Now, people are slowly learning, or rather, exploring these professions which are one of the most underrated ones here in comparison to metropolitan cities. 

As the official partner for Mr. Sikkim Manhunt 2019, he has brought both personal charm and professional efficiency to the stage, making sure every detail stands out by itself, as he himself does.

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