Rawan Bin Hussain is a lifestyle influencer who is passionate about beauty and fashion and currently studies Law in London. She has been an avid reader of VELVET and has recently joined our editorial team as a Contributing Beauty Editor. Rawan’s Diary is the latest addition to our editorial scope, bringing you the best beauty news and ideas from one of the Middle East’s most-followed influencer. Follow Rawan on @rawan
The Art of organic henna is as old as time, yet always intriguing and refreshing to see, within its different forms. Henna Art is synonymous to Middle Eastern, North African, Indian and Pakistani celebrations. Upon discovering a fully fledged, professional company in USA whom thrive on individuality, professionalism and making an impression within a temporary time-frame, is as interesting as can be.
SARAHENNA created and ran by Sarah Walters, who is a long-time artist searching for her medium, discovered henna back in 2008 and was fascinated by the intricacy and beauty of traditional Indian style designs. She claims she has always been intrigued with other ephemeral art forms like the sand mandalas created by Tibetan monks; and found herself wanting to learn more about the art form. She began studying the work of other henna artists and spent several years practicing and perfecting her homemade henna blend. She eventually left her corporate career in data-analytics to focus on her art full-time. She specialises in blending traditional design elements with a modern style. She loves the unique experience of adorning pregnant bellies, offering henna-crowns to those who have lost their hair during chemotherapy, and creating one-of-a-kind designs for private appointments.
“I love henna as a unique art form, and as a way of connecting with people. In our increasingly electronic world, these connections however brief help to fulfil our basic human need for real contact with others.”- says Sarah.
Sarah goes on to explain that much of what goes on your skin absorbs into your body, so she believes in using simple, pure and safe ingredients. They mix their henna paste using 100% certified organic henna leaf powder and high quality certified organic essential oils, carefully sourced and intended for therapeutic applications. They are dedicated to safety, and will always give a complete list of ingredients on request. She states that their homemade henna paste is carefully and lovingly prepared fresh for all of our clients, henna artists all over the world purchase our Suraja brand henna for its renowned quality and beautiful, natural results.
SARAHENNA prides itself on creating designs freehand, and that they enjoy collaborating with clients to come up with patterns that reflect their unique personality and style. They regularly work together at bridal parties, festivals and other large events. However, they are also experienced with groups of all sizes, having worked for companies such as Google, Microsoft and the Seattle Art Museum with incredible groups of over 10,000 people, which are achievements in themselves for the sheer scale, and immense experiences they bring, with incredible memories.
Getting the chance to interview Sarah about her opinions on Henna as an art form, and her courageous work with celebration crowns for chemotherapy patients, and the fabulous experiences with moms-to-be was enlightening to say the least…
What was the biggest factor in the decision to create a henna business?
When I opened my henna business, it was simply out of a love for the art form and the desire to be able to do it more often. I had already been doing henna for family and friends for years, and the business was a natural next step once my skills were at a professional level.
Prior to your henna business, how much did art and drawing influence your life?
Art has always been a part of my life. I’ve explored a variety of artistic mediums, such as drawing, painting, embroidery, knitting, and more recently, painting murals and wood burning. Henna has been the art form that truly captured me, and I never really stopped doing it once I started.
Henna tattoos are very unique but temporary, how do you create something so individual that has a great impact and a lasting impression?
I pay attention to my clients. When I really tune in to someone, I get a sense of what will suit their style. When I finish a design, I’m often told that I created something that seems like it was meant for them – and they are so surprised and shocked! It’s hard for me to explain how it happens, but the artwork is a natural result of our interaction.
Henna is traditionally recognised within the Middle-East, Africa and India; do you see it more as a trend than synonymous with those cultures?
Henna has a history of usage everywhere that the plant grows, which includes North Africa, throughout the Middle East, Pakistan and India. It has been used for thousands of years not only for decorative purposes, but therapeutically as well. Trends have come and gone with various forms of body adornment (including henna) over the years, but it is in our nature as humans to want to decorate ourselves. We style and colour our hair and nails, wear clothing and jewellery, and pierce and tattoo our bodies permanently. What a beautiful gift the henna plant is, to allow us to decorate our bodies!
You offer henna art to cancer survivors and pregnant women; can you tell us a bit more about these experiences you create?
I offer my henna artwork for a variety of occasions and life experiences. Being pregnant is a special time in a woman’s life, and her belly provides a unique, temporary canvas for creating beautiful henna designs. People who are going through chemotherapy often lose their hair, and it can be a traumatic experience. Henna provides a beautiful and unique alternative to itchy, hot wigs and scarves. It also creates more positive interactions with strangers, who notice and compliment the artwork and not avoiding them or offering pity. Henna sessions for these clients also give them a time to relax and enjoy a quiet experience while I work. Many of them have told me it feels like going to a salon.
How popular are these experiences you offer?
These experiences are growing in popularity as people become more familiar with the beautiful art that is possible with henna, and our increasingly fast-paced world means we all need more ways to take time out for ourselves. Self care is so important! A private henna session offers the quiet time of receiving the artwork, as well as feeling a bit more beautiful while wearing an elegant design for the next 1-2 weeks.
Can you tell us of the experiences with your henna art for moms-to-be. What is your boldest memory?
One of my most memorable maternity henna sessions took place on a quiet island off the coast of Seattle. It was in late summer, and it was warm with a light breeze. A group of women had planned for the event and set up an outdoor space with sheer white curtains surrounding the area. There were large pillows scattered around, and music playing. We were in the grass on the waterfront. As I decorated the expecting mom’s belly, her friends sang to her and told their birth stories. It was a beautiful experience.
As a group of sisters do you feel your experiences and encounters create a stronger bond between you?
My sisters and I have always had a strong connection with each other. Doing henna professionally together has only strengthened that bond, because we have even more shared experiences. We learn from each other, work through business problems together, and grow together. It is such a gift to share henna with them!
Each team-member has their own flair of creativity and area of expertise; could you explain the dynamics within?
Each artist has their own style. We are drawn to different shapes and patterns, and certain things come more naturally to each of us. One thing that we all have in common is the drive to do very precise and detailed designs!
In terms of business, what do you have planned for the coming future?
I have always allowed my business to grow naturally. When I am drawn to new business ideas, I pursue them wholeheartedly. I’ve made a couple of recent additions to my business. Late last year I began painting indoor wall murals, and I added jagua to my services and my online retail shop. Jagua fits in with my mission to work with all-natural products for body adornment. While henna is a plant whose leaves stains the skin red-brown, jagua is a tropical fruit whose juice stains the skin dark blue. I am always learning, growing, and searching for new artistic opportunities, so you never know what might be coming next!
Discover more about Sarah’s Art of Henna on www.sarahenna.com