Ask Kavita Bassi, a 32-year-old beautician, what the GST rate for the shampoos in her salon is and she will promptly reply. But ask her how she spends her salary and she may struggle to answer. “Home-related budget decisions I am not so aware (of). In our house, we all give our salaries to my mother-in-law who takes decisions related to finances," she says.
Ninety km away from the national capital, Bassi has been working for the last 12 years at beauty parlours in Panipat, an industrial town in Haryana known for its handloom products. Growing up, Bassi, who has studied till Class XII, developed a passion for the line and took it up as a profession after her husband became too ill to work—she’s the sole earner in a joint family of eight.
She began working two years into her marriage at the age of 18. “When my husband had a paralytic attack, there were problems at home which convinced my family to let me work. For six years, till he recovered, I was earning for the family. After he recovered, he supported my decision to continue working. My motivation has been the profession and not money," she says.
Starting off with no training or college education, Bassi has been able to hone her skills through constant training and now heads the women’s section of the parlour. The mother of a 13-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son, Bassi took up a job with a salary of ₹4,000 per month and, with a raise each year, feels she is now in a more comfortable space.
“I went to Delhi to train as a beautician. We learnt basic make-up and then went for advanced classes for certificate courses. I also work on shortcomings and tackle problems. People don’t feel the need to go to Delhi for make-up anymore. Last year, we did 15 bridal make-ups and this year that number has only increased," she says. Financial decisions, however, still rest with the elders, who have contributed towards insurance schemes for the family.
The personal care and grooming sector has grown across the country, including in tier III towns such as Panipat, creating more job opportunities. The prices of products and services may have increased with the implementation of GST, but that has not hit the customer base. “The cost of a basic facial has gone up from ₹500 to ₹800, but that has not deterred the customers. They still come for the same number of services," she says.
A steady client base, opportunity to learn and independence keep her motivated to do her job.