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Meet Stephanie Maldonado of Golden Hand Henna in Riverside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Maldonado.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Stephanie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In 2014, my boyfriend (who is Fijian Punjabi Indian) came across one of my old sketchbooks and encouraged me to try henna. (Honestly, the only thing I knew about henna was that it was against my religion. We weren’t allowed to paint the skin, so I never gave it a second thought. I’m Mexican, born Catholic and converted Latter-day Saint.) We had our first child on the way, so I figured it would be fun to learn something about his/their culture.

The next day, he went out, bought me my first cone at the local Indian market. I was 29 years old and gave myself my first henna ever. I had no clue where to start, so I drew inspiration from my home décor. It was just something to pas,s the time at first, within a year friends and family began to notice and would compliment my work. I started doing some research and found a large henna community that was so helpful. I learned so much!

Apparently, the henna cones that they sell at the Indian market are unnatural and have a chemical called PPD. This chemical is often found in hair dye and has horrific reactions; Burns, blisters and even organ failure have been linked to using chemical cones.

I also learned the history of henna/mehndi and how to mix it. Natural henna comes from leaves on a small tree called Lawsonia inermis. The leaves are ground up, mixed with sugar, essential oil, and water or lemon juice. Let rest for 24 hours for dye release, coned and ready to go. Natural henna has a pleasant smell and is perishable. Make sure to ask to see the cone before getting your next henna from the fair, boardwalk or beauty salon. Especially if it’s a small child!

Anywho, in 2017, I decided to get serious about henna. I practiced daily for at least an hour. I took some promotional photos and just put it on craigslist. At first, I didn’t feel ready but I learned if I kept postponing this craft, it may never happen. Throughout my journey, I made some connections through networking and started doing local events like parties, gatherings, and pop-ups.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Has it been a smooth road? Hell, no! I’ve been discriminated against, low balled by clients, and have had to pass up on events because I had put my children first. I know every occupation has its challenges and I’m even more grateful to have been refined through the difficulty of this trade. Every day, I learn something new. You just gotta roll with the punches and find other ways to succeed.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Golden Hand henna – what should we know?
I am a henna artist, also known as mehndi. Temporary body art; applied on hands, palms, and feet during holidays, weddings and celebrations in Middle Eastern, North African and Asian- continent cultures.
What sets me apart from others?

I feel that the ability to empathizing and connect with others is part of why I have to return customers. Also, other artists, have told me that I have a recognizable way of drawing designs. I take pride in the quality of my work and have reasonable prices.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Stop procrastinating. You will never know if you can do a specific trade, activity, hobby; if you don’t put yourself out there. Search for knowledge and research what it takes to accomplish your goal. I grew a thirst for wanting to know more about what this trade had in store.

Never get comfortable or complacent. Comfortability prevents you from pushing yourself. Plan your next move. Even if it will be two years from now. Have patience and everything will flow together in one way or another.


  • 2 for $35 wrist to fingertips. One side per hand. Light-medium detail

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Models: Kurt Cruz, Eric Trejeda

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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