New Delhi [India], July 21: The name, Neel David Katwal, rose to prominence when its bearer became the first Nepali internationally acclaimed hairstylist. He even bagged a world record in 2008 after successfully delivering perfect haircuts to five women in just 25 minutes, all the while being blindfolded. However, the road that led this name to such popularity and fame, hasn’t been a smooth one at all.

Neel lived in a small village called Laxmipur in Jhapa, Nepal. As a boy, he was a dreamer who aspired to become a fashion designer someday. After his 12th, he tried hard to pursue his studies in fashion design abroad. But fate had other plans for him. His application for a visa was turned down seven times. Despite such hindrances, the boy didn’t lose hope. It was certainly divine intervention that led him to a British citizen, David Vinall. The man’s heart went out to the young boy’s plight. It was with his help and under his guidance that Neel got to study fashion design at IIFT, South Delhi. Sometime later, quite surprisingly, Neel shifted his focus towards hairstyling, something he had never dreamt about. Then there was no turning back.

Neel trained in Thailand, London, and learned from an Oscar-winning make-up artist, Christine Blundell. Soon afterward, he wished to start his career in his homeland, Nepal. However, he was faced with a severe challenge as there was no unisex salon run by Nepalis at that time. Emerging victorious once again, Neel launched the first outlet of his own salon in a small, 250 sq ft enclosure in a mall in Kathmandu on the 9th of June 2006. It also happened to be his godfather, David Vinall’s birthday. The Salon was inaugurated by a renowned Nepali actress, Bipana Thapa.

Neel David’s salon, which started off as a mere 250 sq ft outlet, has flourished intensely over the years to become an international brand, in Nepal and India, today. In 2008, Neel launched his first salon in India in Siliguri, West Bengal. The brand’s fame has grown ever since, leading to a chain of more than 50 salons operating under its name. It has numerous projects lined up for future ventures in Hyderabad, Jammu, Pune, and even in China. At a minimum investment of 25-45 lakhs, Neel David’s Franchise offers the establishment of varied models of salons ranging from 700-3000 sq ft in terms of area.

As his vision expanded, Neel launched the Neel David’s International Academy to educate students, transforming them into professional hairstylists and beauty & make-up artists. There are around 10 academies currently functional under the brand name. Numerous passouts from the academy have found themselves esteemed jobs in India, Nepal, Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Australia, London, the USA, Portugal, Bhutan, and so on. Some of them even own salons and academies. In the month of November, this year, Neel David’s International Academy will announce franchises all over India offering opportunities to establish academies at a minimum investment of 15-35 lakhs in areas ranging from 800-2500 sq ft. Besides all his business ventures, Neel David endeavours to work for the welfare of society. He reaches out to countless underprivileged youth every year, providing them with free training and secures job placements. He is going to launch The Neel David Foundation in 2022, which will train 100-200 such students in hair, beauty, and make-up annually in Nepal and India. Neel David’s International Academy has recently collaborated with Maiti Nepal, one of the largest organizations in the country founded by CNN awardee Mrs. Anuradha Koirala, to work towards the empowerment of girls and women alike. At present, Neel David’s Salon and Academy has been successfully providing employment for more than 1000 people and aims to recruit over 5000 men and women by 2025.

Business Mint recognized the efforts put in by Neel David. The jury was highly impressed by his unique ideas and decided to present him with the Inspiring Hairstylist of the Year – 2021 Award.