Farouk Shami, founder of Farouk Systems is well-known and well-loved in the world of hair. Now he is taking his background in hairdressing and beauty into the world of politics.
As the story goes, Farouk Shami came to the United States with aspirations nurtured by his father who had lived in New York and who, according to Farouk, "actually brainwashed us with America and the American dream."
Farouk's love affair with hair-styling might not seem like the best road to big-business success or a likely start to running for Texas governor. However, for Farouk it all makes perfect sense.
Hairstyling ultimately became his true love even though originally he dreamed of going into education. But life had other plans for the man born on The West Bank. Farouk says he literally had $71 in his pocket so he went into doing hair in order to help pay his university tuition in Arkansas. Instead he discovered his bliss in the hair-styling he did as a means to an end.
"I was working to put myself through school ... as a waiter, and I found that it was a cleaner job ... to do hair," Shami said. "And that's when I fell in love with the profession and decided to stay." He loved "the artistic part of it," he said. "I was an artist, and hair was the canvas now."
Farouk Shami had a major turning point in his life when he fell in love with hairstyling. From there he built his billion-dollar hair care and spa products company, Farouk Systems. However, Farouk discovered during his journey into the world of hairstyling that he was allergic to the ammonia in hair dyes What a terrible discovery for a hairdresser.
With the help of a family relative and some friends he went on to invent and patent "the first ammonia-free hair color in the world" after finding he was allergic to the ammonia in hair dyes. He says "I thought it (the allergy) was a disaster. It turned out to be the best thing that happened to me."
From that point Farouk developed the award winning line of BioSilk products and he invented the CHI flat iron. Farouk has said that the invention and introduction of BioSilk and CHI are "probably financially, that's the most important event in my life."
In 2009 Farouk Shami announced he was moving some 1,000 jobs to the Houston area from Asia.
As a result of his announcement Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry lauded Farouk Shami as "a man who pretty much embodies the American dream." (The well-coiffed governor also quipped, according to prepared remarks on his Web site, "Some of you might think I've come to pick up a shipment of hair products.")
It's Farouk Systems, which yields the business credentials and the fortune Shami is using to pursue the Democratic position for governor. Shami personally had lent his campaign $5.4 million through the end of December. The focus on hair is natural.
Why is Farouk Shami driven to run for Governor of Texas? "Really, I want to set the good example," Shami said. "I don't owe it to anybody when I am the governor. I will owe it to the people who voted for me, not the people who gave me the money."
Shami said it's his business experience and a sense of responsibility that drew him to the race.
"I kept thinking, why are we in a bad economy? ... In order to stimulate the economy I needed to go against the career politicians, shall we call it, because that's really who were ruining our economy."
He reaches into his business background to discuss his current quest, including when he speaks against the notion that "one person is more ... American than the other" based on whether the person was born here.
Farouk says "I would judge it by who pays more taxes, me or Rick Perry? Me or Bill White? Every year, I pay more than they ever made in their life. ... And since I'm paying taxes, I'll be careful spending people's taxes."
He said Farouk Systems is making the beauty industry "green" and that he's running for governor "to make the state green" through such proposals as widespread use of solar energy.
He compared career politicians to ammonia, his former hair industry problem.
"In the beauty industry, I've been able to solve all the problems. Made it an environmentally safer place, took all the hazardous chemicals out, all the electromagnetic fields out," he said. "And I hope I can save the people of Texas from politicians. I'm comparing ammonia being hazardous (to) politicians being hazardous to the state of Texas."
Farouk Shami is a man of vision and determination. There's no doubt he will run hard for his dream of being the Governor of Texas.
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