The art of henna
Yasmeen Mashayekhâ€™s talent of applying henna in intricate patterns is similar to the cherry red stain revealed after dried henna paste is wiped away: unknown until you look deeper and try to uncover it.
At the age of 13, Mashayekhâ€™s passion for doing henna, the traditional art of painting the hands, feet or body with a paste made from the powdered, dried leaves of the henna plant, began when a teacher at Mashayekhâ€™s old school in the Middle East offered lessons in a club where she taught henna. Mashayekhâ€™s teacher gave her tubes of henna to practice and improve with at home.
â€śIâ€™m so happy that I joined her club,â€ť Mashayekh said. â€śI was very excited to learn something new. I walked into that class wanting to walk out with something to take home, whether it be a new skill or a learning experience. I got both. It was something I always looked forward to at the end of each week. I had no idea that it would take me this far. One day if I meet her again, I want to thank her for that.â€ť
This August, Mashayekh started a henna business to earn money and received bookings for 10 appointments in the first week. She opened a banking account, set up a spreadsheet to record her invoices and posted online fliers on on Instagram to advertise her business
â€śIt felt like a big step, but it was really fun. It didnâ€™t feel like I was actually starting to work, it felt like I was getting paid to do what I like,â€ť Mashayekh said. â€śIt makes me feel really good. Itâ€™s like a destresser when Iâ€™m able to do something I like and get creative.â€ť
ASB booked Mashayekh to do henna at homecoming, and she Â later attended the Muslim American Society(MAS) Convention on Thanksgiving, an event more than 5000 people attended and brought her business there. To prepare for the convention, Mashayekh designed a logo, created a business card and made a price brochure to reach a larger base of people.
â€śIâ€™m really excited to get to do henna for so many different people and maybe get to know more people as well,â€ť Mashayekh said. â€śI have to admit Iâ€™m a little nervous since itâ€™s my first huge event, but hopefully everything will go as planned.â€ť
Culture is a major part of Mashayekhâ€™s journey though henna. She channels her emotions and feelings of being in the Middle East into her work. Through her art, Mashayekh feels she expresses herself while sharing a piece of her culture with those who are interested in learning about it.
â€śI have these flashbacks where Iâ€™m back in the Middle East, and I feel like it’s a connection to home,â€ť Mashayekh said. â€śIn the Middle East there are markets and as you go down the street there are different booths of people selling things. A lot of them are people doing henna and I feel like when Iâ€™m doing henna, Iâ€™m in that market setting.
By Bhalpriya Sandhu, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Yasmeen Mashayekh