Eid is just round the corner and wedding season is in full swing, and a detail that adds a rich hue to the festivities is henna or mehndi. And nowadays, henna artists are experimenting with unique and interesting designs which are something different than the typical paisleys and thappas. Sara’s Henna is a name that is now being recognised as a brand. Born in Karachi, raised in Hong Kong, studied in UK, and now based in Karachi, Sara has had a very diverse background and upbringing which reflects in her work, as well.
The first time she showcased her talent was at a small booth at a handmade arts and crafts fair in Hong Kong. Surprisingly, it became the biggest hit of the night, which is what encouraged Sara to take her hobby seriously. She developed a simple logo, and the name that very night and Sara’s Henna soon became synonymous for an exotic cultural experience all over South East Asia. “I feel I was very lucky in the sense that when I moved to Karachi, it was just a matter of expanding my business into a product line as I had already established my brand associated with Henna Body Art & specialised Bridal Henna, internationally.”
The art of henna has a language of its own which has enabled her to connect with people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and religions.
You! What makes you so passionate about henna?
Sara Vazir: While growing up I always saw my mom make henna at home. I clearly remember the fresh henna scents that used to fill the air and it was always a scent that I associated with home. However, then due to the easy availability of henna cones in the market, we started getting our cones from suppliers in Pakistan. It wasn’t until I attended an international Henna conference in Los Angeles in 2013, that I was reminded of natural henna again. It was there that I learnt the true beauty of our cultural art, and just how much it’s valued around the world. Seeing women from other cultures bond over henna making was such a beautiful eye opening experience, and more so watching the fresh natural henna colours develop and deepen over the 5 days that we were there really convinced me that this is what I need to revive in Pakistan.
You! What is the difference between natural and chemical henna?
SV: Henna originates from Pakistan itself yet while introducing tiny little homemade natural henna cones, it took a lot of patience and perseverance to get to where I am today. The henna itself is a greenish brown colour, and smells absolutely heavenly! It also stains differently on each individual depending on the skin type, body heat, and placement of the henna. The henna stain then stays dark for up to a week, before gradually fading away. There’s no itchiness, no dryness, no texture at all, as the henna absorbs into the top layer of your skin.
You! What henna designs are in trend these days?
SV: Gone are the days when women in Pakistan wanted just heavy filled intricate Pakistani style henna designs. With almost all our artists getting inspiration from artists abroad through Instagram, we’re beginning to see a lot of other influences in our henna designs. The henna designs that are trending right now are all geared towards Indian styled henna designs. It’s all about the lotus, the reverse negative spacing, and super heavy netting. On the other end of the spectrum are super minimalist henna designs, focusing just on one single element in repetition. Intricate rings, tiny mandalas, and very spaced out contemporary designs.
You! Do you see henna art and henna artists flourishing?
SV: I feel like henna is still a long way away from achieving the place it deserves in Pakistan. I want to see Henna Art being valued as a true art form that it is, henna artists being credited for their hard work, their time and their skills. I believe that this change is inevitable, and it’s already been set in action, so it’s just a matter of time that we’re able to achieve what we set out for.
You! What’s the most challenging thing that faced in your endeavour?
SV: Henna art knows no boundaries. However, the challenges lay in switching direction for it. Spreading natural henna art awareness in a country where henna originated from was the most difficult thing ever, ironic isn’t it?
You! What are your future plans?
SV: I feel that my brand already has a great international presence due to my time in Hong Kong, and my travels worldwide for my Bridal henna work. But for now, I want to open a Training Academy to create jobs for the underprivileged women in Pakistan in a safe and protected working environment. Another goal is to streamline a process for my natural henna cones in order to make them available at affordable rates for the mass market.
You! A message for our readers?
SV: Go after what you’re passionate for. If these last two years of Covid have taught us anything, it’s that life is too short and too unexpected to waste in dull jobs and mundane routines. You are in charge of your present, and only you can change it. We get so wrapped up in our society, expectations others have of us and how will we manage that we stop ourselves from achieving the great things that we know we can. So just get out of your head, start making small changes and before you know it, you’ll be amazed at how you can turn your life around!