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Conversations with the Inspiring Sharmeen Moinuddin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharmeen Moinuddin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born into a culture that valued traditions like henna and I was blessed with an unconditional love for art, and that’s how my henna story begins. The first time I picked up a henna cone I was 13 years old, driven, but not very good. Still, I made an Instagram and started to post. Pretty soon, people wanted me to do their henna and were willing to pay for it. I became involved in the henna community on Instagram, learning from them but also comparing myself to them. I looked at the work of other henna artists with years of experience and wondered why they were so much better. I wanted to know the secret to their success, but for some reason, the only advice they ever had for me was to practice. Ok… and what about the secret hand trick? Only years of practice and several sacrificed hands later, did I realize practice was the secret. If I learned anything since the start it’s, always make time for your art. It’s important.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been bumpy, but a smooth road doesn’t make a good driver. I’ve been doing henna professionally for three years now, so I’ve dealt with many clients. Some nice, and some not so nice. Starting off, I was always being taken advantage of. I didn’t know all the rules and I didn’t realize my worth. As a beginner, I had a client who refused to pay the full amount, criticized my speed, and told me to my face that if she had known I was this young, she wouldn’t have hired me. Experiences like this were hard but they pointed out flaws in my business that needed fixing. I created a henna contract establishing my guidelines, pricing, timings, and requirements so there would be no surprises on either end. Ever since, the road has been smoother, but there’s still a long way to go. In the future, I plan on creating a website for myself, making my own henna paste, and sharpening my skills. Something I’ve learned along the way is it’s very important to communicate with your clients. Make sure they understand your expectations and you understand theirs. They will be happy, you will be happy, and the world will be in perfect harmony.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Sharmeen Does Henna story. Tell us more about the business.
I consider myself a doodler, but instead of doodling on paper with a pen, I doodle on people with a cone. I mainly do henna on brides and guests, but I also take at home appointments. I’ve even had the opportunity to teach a henna workshop at a public library as part of their teen program. As for what I’m known for, I like to think that I am known for my intricate, structured, and neat designs. I also take great pride in the fact that I use natural henna despite the fact commercially manufactured chemical cones are much cheaper and more readily accessible. These cones contain harmful ingredients that can have dangerous effects on their users.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
I grew up loving art. Ever since I could remember, I’ve loved to draw, paint, and craft. My hobby definitely played a huge role in getting me to this point. I believe you can only do great work when you love what you do. The joy I have applying henna motivates me to keep going, to keep practicing, and to keep improving.

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1 Comment

  1. Sana M

    January 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Beautiful work and pictures!

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