5 Considerations for Becoming a Professional Henna Artist
Becoming a henna artist is quite an appealing prospect if you’re even remotely artistic. You could be forgiven for not wanting to go through the more rigorous process of learning to use permanent ink, and of course for wishing to avoid the responsibility of making an error on somebody’s precious skin!
Having solid artistic talent is not necessarily a prerequisite for being a henna artist; but creativity and a steady hand will serve you well. If you are at the point where you’ve been practicing a while, you know a few tricks of the trade, you’re confident and you’re getting great feedback… then you might also be thinking about monetizing your hobby. And why not?
There are always going to be people looking for quality henna body art, whether you’re doing basic designs on henna curious friends, or intricate Mehndi designs for brides. This is the easy part. What budding henna artists don’t always consider is that they need to have some business acumen if they want to make it a serious job prospect. The following considerations are worth your attention:
1. Your pricing should be realistic
Once you start charging for your designs, the pressure is on. People’s expectations tend to rise and you’re expected not to make mistakes. Your pricing should reflect your level of talent, confidence and experience, so it’s wise to be self-honest about this when choosing your pricing.
2. You’ll need to advertise effectively
This means being a walking advert. Business cards, posters and emails are great advertising tools and you should be sure to use them; yet nothing calls out to customers like a beautiful henna design in the flesh. How did you feel when you first laid eyes on a gorgeous henna tattoo? They are conversation starters for sure, so even if you’re the shy type, your artwork will do the talking for you.
Carry your henna products around with you so that if you get into a conversation, you can engage people and demonstrate the process. Consider offering simple freebies too; there is novelty factor in this, but people will remember you and if they loved your taster and they may come to find you – possibly with friends in tow.
If you do get business cards and posters printed, make sure you showcase your best henna designs on the front so that people will clearly see your abilities and give you a call.
3. Be regularly present at events
Have a think about what’s in your area. Where do people go to let their hair down? Are there any festivals, fairs, parties, concerts, or perhaps exhibitions where people will want to glam up, or experience something new? Can you think of any occasions for people to get a henna tattoo? This will help you decide on events to attend.
Get in touch with event and party organizers, and see if you can get a pitch. If you keep your finger on the pulse, you should find that there are many places that will have you there. People love the novelty that henna artists bring. Again, remember that big, professional events mean bigger expectations; align your choices with your level of talent, just as you did with pricing.
4. Incentivize friends to spread the word
Word of mouth remains one of the most reliable ways to build a business. You’ll probably agree that you’re more likely to trust the recommendation of someone you know when it comes to buying goods and services. Shiny advertisements may attract attention, but a super-excited person sporting one of your masterpieces is the best advert you can hope for.
Offer discounts for group bookings to inspire your loyal customers to bring their friends along. Stock up on henna supplies and hold henna parties as a social occasion, or offer to host parties as gift that people can buy for their friends. You can demonstrate your work on a lucky winner or offer discounted artwork for the parties.
Lastly, do ‘mates rates’ for friends who actively bring you customers, and a loyalty scheme for customers who regularly come to you for henna. For instance, they could buy nine designs and get the tenth one free.
5. Remember that being a professional changes things
This works the same way with many other creative hobbies. The moment your creations become obligations, they can lose their shine a little. Yoga teachers, hairdressers and masseuses will probably agree.
You are bound to feel great that you’re earning money out of it, but it helps to remember that there will be days where you just aren’t in the mood. Forcing yourself to be creative when you don’t feel like it in order to fulfill bookings is something that happens to most creative professionals at some point.
If you really love henna as a hobby and want to keep it that way, it is worth thinking about whether you are prepared to change your perception of it as ‘fun’. There’s nothing like book keeping, tax returns and legal permits to put a dampener on enthusiasm. Having said that, it can be a very rewarding experience to be a revered henna artist. Doing it professionally may encourage you to hone your skills and reach for the stars… and what better goal is there in life than that?