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A marvelous invention-by-necessity mini miracle of innovation

Updated: Jun 16, 2020

Have you admired people with immaculate eyebrows?  Ever wondered how they got them? Those eyebrows may be the result of a technique called eyebrow threading.  Eyebrow threading is an ancient eastern technique for removing unwanted hairs.  A regular practice in the far eastern countries, believed to be in existence for as long as 6000 years, it has become part of the beauty regimen of many western women (and men) who have fallen in love with this quick and incredibly precise way of removing facial hair and shaping eyebrows.

I was introduced to this technique back in India at the age of 12, and it has been part of my beauty regimen ever since.  Regardless of where I have it done and who the practitioner is, I have always seen it done the same way.  It involves the skillful art of using a twisted cotton thread to yank hair out at the root (Sounds painful, I know.  Who says beauty is painless?).  Practitioners use their mouths to hold one end of the thread taut while both hands control the shaping. With quarantine orders lifted, I decided to call my favorite threading place, Preeti's Salon to see if they had resumed eyebrow threading.  (Do you see where I’m going here?)

I was finding it hard to imagine how they would do the threading technique with a mask on, but I was willing to take the risk because my eyebrows were clearly getting out of control. (Priorities!)

As I walked in, I was intrigued to find the eyebrow artists with gloves, masks, lab coats … and a novel threading technique.  I could not wait to interview the owner and ask her about it.

Preeti, the entrepreneur owner, told me that after 8 weeks of being closed and coming to the realization that mask wearing would be the next normal (at least for a while), she had to find a new way for her beloved 10-year-old business to survive. Her salon thrived on the threading technique — with a waiting room always filled with clients any time you dropped in. 

She now needed to find a way for her team to practice  the traditional threading technique where her customers would feel safe enough to come back. 

So like any good entrepreneur, she experimented.  She tried the foot technique that some people used to practice on themselves — she realized that would not work.  She then tried a neck technique, creating a necklace of the tread around her neck and tied another thread to it that would be used for the twisted loop.  This seemed more promising.

She took it to her team.  She would have to return to the drawing (threading?) board if they could not adopt the new technique.  They loved it! 

Not only did they find it working better than the celebrated 6000-year-old traditional practice, it also saved thread and allowed them the opportunity to build rapport with their clients without the obvious limitation of using their clenched teeth to hold the thread.

In fact, they are going to stick with the new technique even when they no longer have to wear masks.

I left with a big smile, not only from the joy of presenting immaculate eyebrows to the world once again (made even more prominent when a mask is hiding almost everything else), but because I was thrilled with how they had so beautifully applied a Design Thinking mindset of curiositya beginner's mind approach capable of effectively taking on traditional practices and assumptions — and a bias for action to experiment with alternative solutions.

The result: a marvelous invention-by-necessity mini miracle of innovation.

If you are in the South Florida area, visit Preeti's Salon. You will be glad you did.

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