Or did it find me? It's hard to say.
I was working an office job, it paid well and a learned a lot but it wasn't a passion of mine. In my free time from work I found myself lacking in inspiration, it was difficult for me to create anything at all. As a child I was consistently sitting with some sort of creation in the works. Drawing, painting, singing, cooking, or something of the sort every single day. I missed being creative and working with my hands, and I realized I didn't even know when it really stopped. Computer and paper work 40+ hours a week was simply torturing my soul in and out of the workplace.
My boss at that time, though, was an amazing man. His name was Oliver, and he migrated from India to the states at just 22 years old, all on his own. At 60 something, he still had an accent so thick that most of my team members had trouble understanding him during large meetings. We had a special connection and quickly became friends. As I would go bother him during slow work hours, I was able to quickly learn his enunciations and way of speaking English. He would glow when asked to talk about his home and the culture in India. He could go on and on about how the weddings and celebrations were just spectacular, all the colorful fabrics and people. His parents were still living in that home town he grew up in, and he would go visit every few years and reminisce.
One of those chats led into mehendi. At the time, even with my interest in the Indian culture, I had no clue what henna was. We talked about the art form, and the people he knew in his town that worked with henna for weddings and other celebrations. I was so enthused and curious about this temporary body art that he vowed to bring me 'henna cones' so that I can enjoy the art of his country. He went to his favorite market that week, maybe 2 days later, and he brought me 3 cones! Not just a simple henna cone, he made sure to grab one of each color. A red henna, a green henna, and a black henna.
Now, of course, I'm cringing at the chemical compounds I was using to doodle with. These cones are dangerous and can give some people very bad reactions. Luckily, I had no reactions and covered every empty space on my skin I could reach. I drew on a few friends and family too. I just absolutely fell in love with henna. The meditative and temporary art pieces one could draw on the skin were endless. Boundless! With 1 of the 3 cones left, I packed up my things, sold my first house, and moved to Miami. Though I admit, not quite in that order haha
In Miami I was able to reinforce my newfound love and grow a solid relationship with mehndi. I worked a restaurant job while I slowly learned more and more about how this material was a plant and the way it worked with the skin. I transitioned to an all natural henna recipe after learning about the dangers of black or chemical henna cones.
This transition was actually fueled by an unlikely source: Craigslist! On Craigslist I met Nazha of NazaHenna and she taught be so incredibly much about henna and the South East Asian culture. She is a first born US native, with parents that migrated from Bangladesh. From her I was able to learn so many small details in henna designs, as she had been doing henna for 8 years already! We bonded over graphic and web design as well, and just really helped each other grow. As her team grew, the amount of gigs and weddings she was able to book also grew, which led to her team learning and working more!
Between this and my everyday henna practice paying off, I was able to go into freelancing full time during my 2nd year in Miami. With weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and even office parties, henna tattoos became my main source of income! How wonderful it feels to do what you love and actually thrive! When slow season approaches around August, I put more work into my graphic and web design expertise while I gear up for the next wedding season. Each season I learn something new, experience a new event or community, and I am absolutely loving the life I am able to lead. I am grateful every day for the blessing of henna and how it has connected me to so much more in this world! I plan to continue this journey and take henna with me around the world, to connect with the locals and learn from each other. January 2020 sets a 10 day trip in Israel and I cannot wait to discover what awaits. Stay tuned for more henna journeys.
If you are ever interested in learning how to do mehndi yourself, please contact me for classes! 1 on 1 and group classes available .