HALEEMA, A FREELANCE HENNA ARTIST FROM UK
Background of Haleema:
I was originally born in Lahore, Pakistan and moved to the UK at the age of five. I grew up in a small family in the UK, with both my parents and one sister. Sadly, my mom, my best friend, passed away last year, which leaves me with my dad, sister, nephew and my gorgeous BSH kitten, Milly. I currently am working full-time in the Pharmaceutical Industry, and my henna business is a part-time business on the side.
Educational accomplishments of Haleema:
Growing up, I have always been creative, I think I get it from my mum! I was always into sewing, drawing, baking etc. I think I started to realise the levels of my creativity when I went into secondary school – I always loved art and even took it as a GCSE. This heavily influenced my passion for henna, as I began to freestyle designs in my head and a normal henna cone became like a pencil to me. However, when it came to deciding my career, I went down the science route and completed a BSc in Biochemistry and Master in Neuroscience and turned my passion for henna into a side business along the way.
View this post on Instagram
How it all started:
Before I went to University – Whilst looking at which degree to pursue at Uni, I really wanted to pursue Arts, I’ve always had a creative persona. As much as my parents were supportive of me achieving my dream career in arts, they motivated me to pursue an academic degree having seen my grades. So, the summer before I started University, on 2nd August 2016, I created my business page on Facebook and Instagram, and have pursued henna alongside my studies/work ever since.
From the earliest memory of playing with henna to running a successful business:
I initially started doing henna at the age of 10/11! I remember when I was around 12 years old, my mum’s friend from Pakistan came over and she was having one of her wedding events here in the UK. Back then, there was no such thing as a henna artist and whoever knew how to do henna was your go-to person. So, my mum made me do bridal henna on her friends’ hands all the way up to her shoulders, which took me hours! This was the first bride I ever did! Since then, I have been doing henna on friends and family as a hobby and eventually turned it into a business in the summer of 2016.
From profession to passion:
Having said that I’ve always been creative, and I’ve also been extremely focussed on my academic studies. Growing up I wanted to become a Pharmacist, Neurosurgeon, and whatnot. Hence, I never thought that I’d ever pursue a career as a henna artist! My 14-year-old self would have never imagined that I’d still be doing henna 10 years later and have both party and bridal clients.
Haleema’s tip to maintain clients:
‘Alhamdulillah’ (Praise be to God) I have never had a bad experience with my brides or with any of my party henna clients! Normally for my brides, I discuss what they’d like either prior to the booking or at the start of their booking, and I always encourage them to always save inspirational pictures beforehand, as it helps me to understand their vision. It’s always so fulfilling and surreal seeing their vision come to life, carried out by myself of course.
I do have a few clients who are extremely particular with what they would like and could be seen as ‘difficult’ but I’m always up for a challenge and they always LOVE the final result!
The seller behind the successful freelance business:
I always order my cones from a seller in the UK, Bharathi Sanghani. As I use natural henna, the stain for this matures after 2-3 days, and can last up to two weeks depending on your aftercare; the better the aftercare, the longer the stain lasts.
Some of her masterpieces:
Haleema in five years:
I’d like to see myself collaborating with other companies in different projects for sure. I would like to make the most of my degree, and experience as much as I can in the Medical/Pharma field, before I think about turning my freelance part-time henna career into full-time.
Interview: Maryam Zuberi
Pictures Courtesy: Haleema