“Never settle, go for the best” are words Bahira Shami’s father has often said to her over the course of her lifetime. These words have helped define her as a person, as well as what she strives for in her professional and personal life. Bahira has been in the beauty industry for her entire adult life. She started her career at CHI and BioSilk, her family’s company and brand, where she expanded her business knowledge and trained for her life in the professional world.
Bahira Shami was born and raised in Houston, Texas, the city she still calls home to this day, and where the headquarters of her company, Beauty Elite Group, are located. At the age of 19, Bahira hit sales numbers that other companies in the industry only dream about, breaking many of Beauty Elite Group’s records in the process. It was during this time that she was named ‘Woman of the Year’ by the city of Houston, an award that was presented to her by the mayor in a special ceremony.
Within two and a half years of being hired, Bahira Shami had risen the ranks to become CEO of Beauty Elite Group, and she has overseen the company’s indisputable success in the beauty and cosmetics industry ever since. The fact that her company is growing and thriving like never before is a testament to her hard work and steely determination, and it represents the fulfillment of a promise that she made, both to herself and her employees. Bahira attributes her success to being a risk-taker—much like her father—as well as staying consistent, believing in her employees, and most importantly, learning something new every day.
Where did the idea for Beauty Elite Group come from?
As far back as I can remember, I have been in this industry in one way or another. I watched my family’s beauty company succeed ever since I was a young girl. As I grew up, I took after my father and his risk-taking mentality. In high school, I had to make a choice: Do I work for a million dollar company that belongs to my family, or do I take a chance by working with a new company and building my career from the ground up? I decided to take all the knowledge and training I had accumulated for the first 21 years of my life and channel it into Beauty Elite Group. I started there two and a half years ago and I quickly achieved sales numbers that no one had ever seen before. Then, they made me the CEO. I had a dream, it came true, and because of that, I am very happy!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
For me, a typical day consists of going to each department and listening to the employees that have questions about how to better create efficiencies. I let employees know that eight hours might seem like a lot, but there is always something to do that could positively change the outcome of the business. I like to utilize every single minute of the day and not focus on the things that aren’t a priority.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The key to bringing ideas to life is to stay consistent. When there is an idea that we decide to implement at the company, I immediately tell the employees to make a sample, work with the vendors, and execute it. I believe this is something that every single one of my employees has learned from me. I never hear them saying that they will work on it tomorrow or next week—they always want to dig in immediately. It’s an ongoing process and we make sure to streamline our efforts, stay on top of tasks, be consistent, and as a consequence, we usually end up completing things ahead of time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me is the growth of modern technology. My assistant and I are always looking for the next thing to incorporate into the business to create faster and more efficient processes. I love being a part of this generation! We now have incredible technology at our disposal in a way that previous generations did not—and it’s constantly evolving; getting faster and better. I aim to utilize as much of it as I can to map our progress and plan for the future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’ll give you two habits: First, I always strive for more, and second, I never settle. These are qualities that I learned from my father. I constantly want to work to find new ways to accomplish more and focus on being a better version myself, for the sake of my company and all my employees.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give to the young version of me is to not be so hard on yourself. There is time to grow at your own pace and there is really no pressure. You don’t have to solve all the issues of the world as a young child.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Employees should not fear you, they should respect you. As a CEO, there is usually an assumption among employees that you’re an intimidating person because you’re the big boss. Some CEOs even cultivate this image, but I believe it is counterproductive and chief executives everywhere should work to change it. And the way to change that dynamic is to understand that employees will not put their best foot forward if they fear you. Management must gain the trust of their employees and allow respect to flow both ways. Employees are people and they deserve our respect. They are not objects.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
One thing I do over and over is to stay consistent in both my business and personal life. The key to consistency is to plan and stay on top of your goals. You will get nowhere without doing that, or without hard work and dedication. I live this philosophy every day, which is how I have achieved my many accomplishments and successes.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that has helped us grow the most is just thinking smart and long term, rather than reacting to events as they occur over the short term. You need to take action to find permanent resolutions to recurring problems, so that the next time they happen, you will be able to execute the solution effectively. Once I realized this and started utilizing this strategy, our business started to thrive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Before I went into management—and, indeed, the incident that led to my getting promoted to management full-time—was a huge accounting discrepancy. It fell to me to resolve it. It’s important for a company to know that its money is under control, and that no one is over or underpaying people, vendors, other companies, etc. After that one accounting failure, I made sure something similar didn’t ever happen again. From that point on, we started seeing our profits climb drastically.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love to give this idea away! It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time but is not feasible for me at the moment, as it is outside of my industry. I think it would be great to be able to customize luggage either online or at a facility within the airport, just so people could make it distinct, and so it’s not mixed up with someone else’s stuff at the baggage claim. I feel strongly about this idea and would love to see a reader find success with it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent $100 on our company’s Shopify subscription, which is where our e-commerce retail business is located. Although it is for the business and I used my personal funds, it was a good decision. I like to do small things like this for the company because I know that if I put my own money into it, the company will make it back many times over in new business.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There are two examples of software that help us the most with productivity: Microsoft Dynamics and QuickBook systems. Without those two systems, I don’t know how organized or productive we would be. We utilize these programs every day. As for a web service, one we recently subscribed to and have had all our employees sign-up for as well, is Asana. It is a good way to assign tasks and then follow up with employees after the task is completed.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as it contains so many life lessons and useful. tidbits of general knowledge. It can increase anyone’s quality of life.
What is your favorite quote?
Although he is not an author or a famous person, this quote is attributable to a person who is very important to me—my dad. Whenever I am in a quandary, he says, “Never settle, go for best, then….. blank.” The blank is meant to be a substitute for whatever decision I have before me. So, now, in my mind, when confronted by important choices, in my head, I always hear my dad’s voice telling me, “Never settle, go for best.” That is my favorite quote.
Think smart and long term.
Say consistent in both my business and personal life
Employees should respect you, not fear you
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.