Why henna as a medium, and why Henna Hub?
HH: I do not only use henna. I have also used a number of different substances for different projects; for instance, oil paints and acrylic paints for my personalised phone case and henna inspired canvases. For the body, I use organic henna, dyes and body paints where required. In the past, people used henna to design an air conditioning effect on the skin. With time, henna became a substitute for jewelry. At every Swahili festival, it has become part of the culture. Women go to town with henna decorations especially on their hands and legs at weddings and during Eid festivities. Even when there is no festival, the women will decorate themselves. I chose the name Henna Hub because of the sense of unity I got from the word ‘hub’. I want my clients to feel that homeliness and comfort the Hub brings when they come over to get adorned.
HL: What are some of the challenges you have had with the business? Do you move often between Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam? Is the demand great?
HH: I believe I have faced the same challenges most new artists face including not being easily accepted in the industry. The most criticism I received, especially in the first few months, was from elderly people with a more traditional worldview. They believed that I was modernising and simplifying my designs, and that it was culturally wrong. My work is becoming increasingly popular with the younger generation that love and appreciate contemporary styles and often use
FROM TOP: Henna Hub does beautiful designs for beautiful bodies – and the babies inside them; Want that extra wow at the beach? This is what it could look like, courtesy of Henna Hub; Sybah Sheikh hard at work
People love henna because its so beautiful.