Manchester entrepreneurs Kunal Trehan and Thomas Hope share their secrets to success.
“I have asked Kunal, no more ideas after three” laughs Thomas. He and Kunal are the brains behind the interior design and luxury furniture retail brand Touched Interiors, on-demand beauty service Artisté, and award-winning salon Touched Hair and Beauty. Kunal jokes “We have to be passionate to run three businesses and get out of bed every day.” It’s the winning combination of Kunal’s “attention to detail” and Thomas’ “ability to connect with people” that’s gained them such a strong client base over their ten years in business together.
Their passion might get them out of bed in the morning, but their real secret to success is personalisation. You’d be forgiven for thinking that hair, beauty and interiors businesses don’t have much in common, but they do when they’re the products of Thomas and Kunal. Thomas explains that “the consultation process is probably very similar. You discuss all the ideas that you can come up with and eventually decide on an idea together that’s personalised to that individual.”
Championing what’s right for the client isn’t always an easy task but it’s one Kunal and Thomas dedicate themselves to. They know that their clients “want something that nobody else has”, so it’s their job to find out a client’s needs and wants and translate their vision into a reality that works for them and their lifestyle.
Rising to these challenges brings the greatest rewards: “The best aspect of the job,” Thomas explains, “is when you’ve delivered that moment to them because you’ve gone above and beyond what anybody else could do”. The pair measures a job well done by their clients’ happiness. Kunal says “those emails from clients saying that not only did they love your design, but they loved the service are always most satisfying part”.
When so much of the nature of their work is bespoke, the customer truly has to be at the heart of their services. The pair are well aware that great customer service, even in luxury retail, can be hard to come by, often feeling that they have to work twice as hard to reassure clients that have come to them after bad experiences. This is what motivates them to approach each client’s journey as an ongoing experience, never an exchange. Kunal says “from the moment they answer the door or pick up the phone, to three weeks or three years of having that item, it’s all part of an experience.” It’s this genuine client focus and honesty that never fails to win clients over. Whether you want to buy a cushion, design a piece of furniture, or have Touched Interiors reimagine your whole property, Kunal explains “it’s about knowing why the value for money is perfect for them, whatever the price point may be”.
For Thomas and Kunal, it’s never about recreating a trend or look. Thomas says, “It’s really about making sure it’s their vision”. Although we all take inspiration from interior trends when decorating our homes and fashion trends when coming up with a look for our next big event, Kunal and Thomas believe your identity should always be the most important thing.
It’s a method that’s clearly working well for them as they launched their third business, luxury on-demand beauty app, Artisté earlier this year. With friends and Touched Interior clients unable to visit the pair’s Staffordshire salon Touched Hair & Beauty, they were inspired to remove the restrictions of time and location, allowing clients to enjoy luxury beauty services whenever and wherever they want them.
In an industry where self-appointed makeup artists abound, and express beauty treatments are knocked out in record time, Artisté’s success comes from its owners’ winning formula of great service and personalisation. Much like Kunal’s approach to designing projects, Thomas says he “relishes in deciphering what a client really needs”. To make sure the client’s vision is always at the forefront, Artisté’s services are gender neutral, focusing on a specific look that’s then tailored to each client.
Thomas and Kunal’s ability to get to the heart of what works for their clients, regardless of what they’re spending, is best showcased by Artisté. The pair has strived to make sure that the app is “for everyone”. It’s important to Kunal and Thomas that people who might not be able to make it to a salon, like busy parents or people with disabilities, can still enjoy a luxury experience in their own home. With a lower price point (full makeup costs £40) and stylists available between 5 am and 10 pm across Greater Manchester and Cheshire – and plans to expand across the UK – Artisté succeeds in providing “attainable luxury”.
Despite having three very different businesses, their approach remains the same. Kunal puts it simply: “excellent service and great product delivered to perfection”. It’s a careful balance of Kunal’s perfectionism and Thomas’s grounded nature that drives this creative couple to offer a taste of luxury to everyone. With clients on the Forbes list and flying over from Australia, it’s easy to see that the pull of this pair is global. Kunal guarantees “You’ll never find a bad online review about us. We’re not one of those couples that start a new venture for the sake of it. We have to give it 100%”. Kunal and Thomas prove that passion and personalisation are exactly what today’s clients want and make for strong foundations on which to continue to grow their business empire.
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