Helping those who suffer hair loss to find a new lease of life has led to business success for Salford University graduate Ali Nowroozi. He tells us about what has driven him to create a successful wig business especially for cancer patients.

 

The city of the worker bee appeals to Ali Nowroozi. It’s one of the reasons the entrepreneur feels so at home in Manchester despite spending most of his childhood in Iran.

He was born in Manchester and returned in 1995 to do a degree in Mathematics at the then University of Science and Technology. He experimented with various jobs until he finally found himself doing what would turn out to be his passion, livelihood and way of giving back to the society.

He said: “I have always been the hard-working type. After I did my Bachelor’s degree, I was constantly doing different jobs until I ended up working at this company that produced wigs for people with hair loss. With hard work and me getting a more thorough understanding of the industry, I had managed to climb up the career ladder to being the head of the company in a couple of years time.”

His wife’s experience of cancer as a teenager made him particularly determined to do more for chemotherapy patients.

“At this point I felt really privileged with the fact that I could make a difference and help people with hair loss and especially those who are going through cancer, as the treacherous disease was a big part of my wife’s life when she was only 14. That is why the approach that I am taking is always very serious and personal,” he said.

Having established what it is that he would like to dedicate himself to, Mr Nowroozi then finished a part-time Business Management and Marketing Master’s degree at the University of Salford in 2009. This would later turn out to be the first stepping stone towards success:

“Studying and successfully implementing everything that I’ve learned in my field of work turned out to be very beneficial for me after finishing my masters. I soon realised that there was a niche gap in the market. When it comes to dealing with hair loss, people are limited in choices. They either wear a wig or some sort of a simple headwear. For me neither of those choices were acceptable,” he said.

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“Wigs are often very uncomfortable, while headwear was purely used for practical reasons. There wasn’t really any style behind it. So I came to the conclusion that I wish to create something beautiful. Something that is as gorgeous as practical. A fresh take on how you can express yourself. That’s when I decided to create my own business.”

In 2016 Mr Nowroozi started his own company called Avakino Ltd, based in Didsbury, and developed the Masumi Headwear brand. The idea behind the product is to deliver hair loss patients an optimal comfortable experience attached to a fashionable accessory that changes with seasonal fashion trends. Within only six months from starting his own business, Mr Nowroozi was working with NHS household partners such as Salford Royal and Christie Hospital, two of the biggest cancer treatment facilities in Europe.

“By learning how the industry works and understanding what is there to be done we’ve created something special,” he said.

“The short notice in which we’ve managed to acquire relationships with such prominent names like Christie proves it. When working with big hospitals such as Christie, others inevitably follow suit and build an ever-growing interest in our product. This was hugely beneficial not only for the growth of the business but for being able to approach even more people than we previously could.

“We understood who our clients were and were driven by the will of making a difference for them. The financial gain was riding on the backseat until we made sure that our product checks all the marks with our customers.

“The pinnacle of the realisation of our success came from seeing the lovely feedback and the positive changes we are doing to peoples lives.”

But hair loss patients are not the only people who Ali Nowroozi has supported. He also gives back to the University of Salford community which has helped in boosting him to where he is now and where he was named Alumni of the Year in 2017.

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He said: “I’ve had great success when collaborating with the University of Salford. There was an internship programme sponsored by Santander through which they paid students to come and work with us. I thought that it would be a good idea to have a young and visionary mind in a starting company and I definitely was not wrong.

“My first full-time employee who still works with me and is an amazing designer was a University of Salford student. I’ve also had students working in other fields at the company such as managing the marketing campaigns through which we aim to enter overseas markets like Australia and New Zealand. We tried to teach and give students everything we know and the outcomes were fantastic. They were achieving so many amazing results which supported their studies along the way while also teaching us new ways of doing things differently. This way I’ve learned how rewarding it is for both sides to empower young minds while teaching them everything that you know. The feeling is immense. You become a family”.

Many students who were interns at Masumi have ended up doing their dissertations on the company. He was also shortlisted for the AGCAS national award in 2018 for his support and work with students and graduates.  His latest collaboration is on a new entrepreneurship degree.

Currently Avakino Ltd and Masumi headwear are constantly growing under the supervision of Mr Nowroozi. He aims to be the top worldwide supplier in headwear for cancer patients, people who have gone through chemo and those who are coping with alopecia.

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