Listen to others and observe the world around you.
Inspiration comes from both and has never failed me.
Dr. Farouk Shami, an immigrant and son of a Sheikh and Chief of the olive farmers in Palestine grew up exposed to the trials and tribulations of war, migrated to the US with only $71.00 in his pocket. His career path of hairdressing resulted in illness from the harmful effects of ammonia which led him to create the first ammonia-free hair color.
Known for many firsts, Dr. Shami went on to create award-winning hair care and styling tools (including 23 patents) that have revolutionized the beauty industry. Today, his company Farouk Systems, Inc. is in over 144 countries with over a billion dollars in sales. His passion for being an American success story has resulted in his humanitarian efforts and appointment as Special Representative and Adviser for International Affairs for the NDUF (National Defense University Foundation) and a frequent speaker on leadership at Harvard University. He has recently partnered with LG H & H that will bring new technological advancements and distribution to both companies.
His many firsts include:
- 1st hairdresser to receive a Doctor of Beauty – Honorary Ph.D. of Arts by SeoKyeong University in Korea
- 1st hairdresser to invent the first ammonia-free hair lightener and coloring system
- 1st hairdresser to utilize primary colors in a lightening system called SunGlitz
- 1st hairdresser to utilize NASA technology in the development of professional styling tools and hair care
- 1st hairdresser to obtain a patent for hair care: Farouk owns ten patents in chemistry and physics.
- 1st hairdresser to use ceramic and revolutionize styling tools with the introduction of the CHI Ceramic Flat Iron. Farouk Systems invented and launched the very first ceramic hairstyling iron, the original CHI, which has grown to become a leader in the tool industry.
- 1st hairdresser to run for Governor
- 1st hairdresser to use Silk in hair care: the idea for BioSilk Silk Therapy came from a phrase his clients used to say about their hair, “it’s like silk.”
Where did the idea for Farouk Systems, Inc. come from?
I always loved making women feel beautiful. My mother was my inspiration as she used olive oil and herbs from our homeland to create her own skin and hair care. Plus, her knowledge of natural dyes helped to create beautiful baskets. I came to America for college and then realized that I wanted to be a hairdresser and colorist. After becoming ill, I learned that I was allergic to ammonia found in hair color. Since I wouldn’t give up the profession I loved, I began to incorporate my mother’s knowledge of mixing products to create the first ammonia-free hair color. As I learned more about the harmful effects of ammonia, I realized that other hairdressers and their clients might be experiencing the same reactions. So, in the back of my salon, I started to mix color, fill bottles and started educating and selling my color. In 1986 I started Farouk Systems, Inc. and the rest is history.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each morning I wake up and have a swim (exercise is key to a healthy body and mind), I pray each day to thank God for all my blessings and then get ready for the office. I don’t waste a moment, between keeping up with my chemists and researchers, meeting with my Executive Staff, speaking with my distributors to checking on my aloe farm which grow directly across the road from our main headquarters. We also have olive orchards. Our goal is to become an organic haircare company by growing our own ingredients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I travel all over the world and it has been through the most natural occurrences that I have gotten an idea for a new product or tool. On one trip, I was in a restaurant where they cooked the food on a lava stone. My curiosity in learning the benefits of lava resulted in a whole line of styling tools using lava. Sourced from some of the most effective heat-conducting materials found on earth; volcanic lava combined with the power of CHI ceramic creates smooth, sleek results without the damaging effects of high-heat styling. We refer to it as healthy heat.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It doesn’t really take a trend to excite me, I prefer to be the trendsetter with our products. I do not want to be a copy cat but instead, let others copy me. That is the highest form of achievement and flattery.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I never stop. If you stop, you don’t have the passion. And, if you don’t have passion, you will never grow.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My best advice to my younger self would be to start sooner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen to others and observe the world around you. Inspiration comes from both and has never failed me.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I have always taken any profits and re-invested them into better equipment, property, and technology. Also, surrounding yourself with people who have the same goals. My dearest friend John McCall is not only my business partner but is a visionary. Together, we share ideas and concepts and how they will come to life.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It isn’t a failure as long as you learn from it. I never let anything hold me back and view it as education on what not to do next time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I am currently working on a color machine with my LG Household & Healthcare partnership. Together, CHI and LG H&H have been trailblazing new color technologies that have been in research for two years and will take the guesswork out of hair color. It will revolutionize the professional salon industry and help colorists around the world create the ideal formulations.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I would have to say rose bushes. My home is landscaped with rose bushes and I gather the petals to create my own tea. I mix the rose petals with herbs, spices and stinging nettle from my homeland. Stinging nettle has many health benefits and nutrients. When I have guests over, I brew them my tea so they can experience not only the benefits but the beautiful aroma.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube – social media has revolutionized advertising and reaching your audience.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I actually wrote a book about my life in hopes of inspiring others to overcome hurdles that we each endure. It is my story of loving this country and how fortunate we all are to be American. It is called American by Choice.
- It is important to listen to others and observe the world around you in order to grow
- Success is not just measured by numbers. It is measured by the footprints of your legacy
- Never fear the unknown or taking a chance. Go after what you believe in.
- Surround yourself with people who have the same ideals and goals that you do
- Expand your horizons, never stay stagnant