Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Henna Community has been abuzz for a month since Beyoncé debuted her Bollywood-styled self in Coldplay's Hymn for the Weekend video. I spent ages trying to get a good look at the artistry in the video, but we never got a good look at her henna. Well, this week Queen Bey posted her mehndi on Instagram, and we all finally got a good look at the simple mandalas and palm designs featured in the video.

And what's better, the artist herself shared the inside scoop!

Sumita Batra has been a blessing to the henna community, helping catapult mehndi into the mainstream back in the mid-90s. She was known for her exquisite bindi work, and only practiced mehndi on the side of her beauty business. When she had the opportunity to work with Madonna and Gwen Stefani, Sumita didn't think much about how her artwork would affect thousands of artists in the world. She was just creating a beautiful look for her client, and we all benefitted from the explosion in popularity in henna because of her enthusiasm.

When Sumita was brought on to the Beyoncé shoot, she suggested adding natural henna paste and letting the fresh stain show through the shoot. Of course, a Bollywood star isn't complete without her mehndi, so we were thrilled to see the whole package. Sumita directed the styling for the mehndi, and her associate Prabhuti Patel brought the vision to life. After nearly 30 years in the beauty industry and developing carpel tunnel syndrome, Sumita works in collaboration with her team at Ziba Beauty, teaching the next generations of beauty professionals.

In fact, it was a teaching opportunity that brought Henna Caravan and Ziba Beauty together in the fall of 2014. Carissa McQueen, along with Neeta Sharma, was asked to travel with Sumita Batra to Cambodia, where we taught henna and threading to 40 women. In conjunction with Shinta Mani Foundation and Senhoa, the week long course helped to provide a safe and reliable industry for young women, many of whom came from very challenging backgrounds or were survivors of trafficking.

This entire experience embodies what we love most about henna. Henna brings women together, provides safe and fulfilling job opportunities from the farmer to the artist, and helps create more beauty in the world.

Cheers to Beyoncé, Sumita, Prabhuti, and all the women who help bring the world together through a shared love of beautiful henna art.

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