A business plan designed using indigenous plants

Alongside mehendi application, the couple offers hair, skin, and nail services, too. All using henna. Fabee specialises in henna application and Kaleem is a hairstylist.
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | Pexels)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | Pexels)

CHENNAI: Marudhani, mehendi, henna...the names are many but the end product is a beautiful pattern adorning your hands and legs. The fragrant paste makes an appearance at all festivals and functions, enticing many a woman. The love for marudhani is so much so that the city has become home to several mehendi artists from different parts of the country. Among them are Mohammed Kaleemullah Yacoob and his wife Fabee, who took to their passion of designs and started Yafa Mehandi Studio in Alwarpet. 

Mohammed Kaleemullah Yacoob
Mohammed Kaleemullah Yacoob

Alongside mehendi application, the couple offers hair, skin, and nail services, too. All using henna. Fabee specialises in henna application and Kaleem is a hair stylist. Just like a corporate set-up, this studio has a chief designer, senior designer, and junior designer for henna application, and other services include hair colouring, and hair wash using henna, and nail henna starting from Rs 100 and going up to Rs 500. 

All hail henna
The studio was opened in 2014. Fabee has always loved henna and has been involved in this business for a long time now. When she married Kaleem, they wanted to take this roadside service to a luxury studio set up, similar to the boom in tattoo industries. Kaleem spent a year researching the benefits of henna, how to prepare a paste for application, the aftercare procedure, and how to assist with service. Understanding the working of henna leaves, the couple involves themselves in every procedure, from growing the tree to after-services.

“It is the experience that brings back the customer as they get comfort similar to their homes,” says Kaleem. Every customer has to undergo a pre-consultation process, wherein the idea is understood before getting into mehendi design and application. If the client is good at drawing then they are asked to sketch their design. The same procedure is followed for hair and nail services as well. They also give tips for better growth and maintenance. 

The couple has also made arrangements for aftercare. They use tape to seal the product and also are in tie-ups with local auto rickshaw drivers to help the clients reach their destinations. “Aftercare is very important for henna to stay for longer,” adds Kaleem.

For those who prefer organic and wish for the designs to stay longer, henna is a good option. The raw materials are sourced from Kaleem’s hometown, Ilayangudi in Sivagangai district, where he grows henna trees. During the off-season, he sources his materials from Gurugram, Haryana. The leaves of these trees are dried and used; if it is over-dried, the design comes out in black, if not it gives a brown colour. In the preparation of the paste, ingredients are added to get maroon colour. 

Break the stereotype
People who visit the studio ask for black and maroon henna for hair colouring and brown for mehendi. “I want more men to take henna services. It has so many health benefits, so why restrict it to women?” notes Kaleem pointing out that men step in for hair services only. But, male tourists from other countries ask for mehendi, because for them it is like a tattoo. This practice is to be brought to our country as well, he opines.

Armed with information and backed by loyal customers, the business saw its downfall once in nine years of its business and is back again to spread awareness and promote the business, making it an industry and not just a mere roadside service. 

The studio works from Monday to Saturday on appointment bookings from 11 am to 9 pm. Address: Yafa Mehandi Studio, Seethammal Road, Alwarpet, Chennai - 600014. Call: 7358737724

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The New Indian Express