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Art & Life with Manjushree Nomulwar of HennaHopes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Manjushree Nomulwar.

Manjushree, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Growing up in India, I was always an artist creating, designing, making things. When I was young, I started doing henna as fun for my family and friends during weddings and parties and everyone loved my work. I was doing it only as a hobby at the same time pursuing my career in finance. After completing my education, I worked as a Financial Analyst for a couple of years. Then I got married and moved to the US with my husband leaving my job and family behind. As soon as I arrived, I started doing internships here but soon realized along with my financial background if I get some education in computers, I could have even more job opportunities. So I enrolled myself into UCLA for a certificate program in System Analysis. While studying, in my free time, I scribbled henna designs on paper. As I was completing school, I got pregnant and had a baby. As I entered motherhood my perspective towards life changed. I was no longer interested in going out for a 9-to-6 job. I wanted to enjoy every moment with my little one and see him grow and achieve all his development milestones. So I started thinking about other career options. At the same time, I continued with my henna practice in any spare time I got and started getting compliments for every design I drew.

I also received suggestions that I should do henna professionally. Then I decided to explore more and learn everything about henna tattooing like learning the history of henna, making henna paste, creating a business plan, handling social media, etc. I started attending henna conferences, meeting other henna artists, learning new techniques and found that I was improving every day. I created my Instagram account and Facebook page. My husband helped me create a website for my business. I started getting orders and really good responses from clients. Since then, I never looked back and have never been so happy in my life. I am very much in love with my profession and that can be seen in my art everyday. I always try to give my heart and soul in drawing a well-conceived beautiful henna. I am always fully committed in developing custom designs for my clients and portraying stories into a stunning henna design.

Please tell us about your art. What do you do / make / create? How? Why? What should we know about your artwork? What’s the message or inspiration, what do you hope people take away from it?
Henna body art is a form of temporary tattoo. It is a way of adorning yourself, telling your story, expressing yourself to the world the way you are. It starts with making a paste from henna powder mixing with essential oils and then drawing creative designs on palms, feet or any other parts of your body. It is then allowed to dry completely, sometimes overnight and then peeled off to reveal a nice and fresh orange stain. It deepens into dark brown in the next 48 hours. Henna stain usually lasts for one to three weeks. There are benefits to henna as well. It not only enhances your beauty but also gives you a kind of soothing and cooling effect. In many cultures, henna has become a part of wedding rituals, however it can also be done just for fun. Temporary tattoos are painless and you can try out a different one after one fades away and that is why it is more popular these days.

I am a self-taught henna artist known for specializing in both traditional and modern bridal henna. I also do henna for events, parties, belly blessings and all other occasions. I have started taking private appointments as well. Although I am based in West LA, I travel worldwide for my work. I create designs as per the occasion or client’s preference. This needs a lot of patience and concentration especially for bridal henna. I take pride in creating clean and neat designs which not only appear beautiful but also have a lasting impression on people’s minds.

From being a henna artist and from my experiences, I would like to say that life does not always go according to the way we plan. We plan for perfect things to happen but life takes us for a rollercoaster ride that sometimes veers off the tracks. We should understand that change is an inevitable part of life and it often brings new opportunities. We just have to believe in ourselves, work hard and everything will fall into place eventually.

In my case, my plan was to continue working in the finance field for my whole life but having a baby gave me a new direction and eventually, everything worked out even better. Now I get flexibility in my working hours and I get to be my own boss. I can now look after my kid and home as well as conduct my business successfully. I can make independent decisions and take control of my life. This turned out to be the best decision of my life. So I think perseverance and hard work are definitely key to success.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I think the biggest challenge is reaching the audience that appreciates your art and differentiating yourself from the disingenuous artists. There are many henna products available in the market that are not authentic and sometimes counterfeit. Sometimes these products and services using these products are offered at cheaper rates. It becomes difficult to compete with such service providers since there is not much awareness of the quality of henna and henna as an art. The readymade henna paste that is sold in stores contains chemicals and gives instant stain but can be very harmful to skin. You can see them on the store counters kept at room temperature whereas organic henna has to be kept frozen otherwise the oil separates from the paste. That is why I always make my own henna paste from organic henna powder and 100% natural essential oils which not only gives a darker stain but is also safe and suitable for all skin types even for pregnant women and kids.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can see my work on my:
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/henna-hopes-culver-city

My work has also appeared in a Smithsonian documentary “My Big Bollywood Wedding” and in music videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoHjrdNZlIE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWYMZEIqlus

People can support my work by following me on Google, Instagram and sharing it with their friends and family and spreading word about my art and business through social media or any other channels. Also, reviews have become the most important part of the business profile these days. So it would be very helpful to have review and feedback from the clients for my work.

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