Mehendi Artist

NiloferMehendi Artist

Bargain for beautiful
hands

Indian occasions—from festivals to weddings—are large and lively affairs where one can usually find henna artists armed with their mehendi cones, busy catering to customers. “One of the prominent features of any happy occasion is the henna applied on hands,” said Nilofer, a henna artist based in Bengaluru.

Nilofer first learnt the skill in Mumbai and is trained in different styles including Marwari, Gujarati and Arabic. She moved to Bengaluru after her marriage and opened her own parlour, where she also teaches the art to other women.

What is the secret behind Nilofer’s henna practice? Apart from the artist’s skill, it is the quality of henna that is a defining factor. “I don’t like to compromise on the quality of henna because if I am not honest with my work, I cannot make good money,” she said.

Homemade henna powder is mixed with brewed tea, lemon juice, eucalyptus oil and coconut oil. The mixture is made at least a day before it is to be applied and is left to rest overnight in a bowl. The next day, Nilofer starts by first applying eucalyptus oil on the palms of customers, and later begins tracing patterns with henna. The designs are intricate and symbolic, typically including mandalas, floral patterns, animals and geometric shapes—all traditionally originating from a central point.

Having worked as a henna artist for many years, Nilofer has developed a strong relationship with her customers. Beaming, she proclaimed that she has travelled to places like Dubai in a professional capacity, applying henna at weddings and other occasions. For new leads, she does not hesitate to enrol on online portals such as Just Dial and Sulekha. However, relationship building is a long and arduous process. “For me, it takes about 15 days to a month to build a relationship with my clients. Once that is developed, it will only take a few hours to earn money from them,” she explained

There are various challenges that Nilofer has had to face in her business, primarily among them being the proclivity of customers to bargain endlessly for cheaper rates. Customers are never ready to pay the quoted price for all the hard work. Exasperated, Nilofer said, “People enjoy the most in henna but bargain the most for it.”

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