KV Mendhi

How I've Gained Thousands Of Henna Clients In The Past Decade While Protecting My Mental Health

How I've Gained Thousands Of Henna Clients In The Past Decade While Protecting My Mental Health

Welcome! Tell us who you are and a quick overview of your business/brand.

Hiya, I’m Kavita, Chemical Engineer by profession and Mindful Bridal Henna Artist by passion from London.

My profession and passion are equally as important to me and bring an extreme sense of balance to my life. Studying Chemical Engineering and continuing my career to this day, my passion for henna has been an integral part of my life while growing up, embracing my culture while being a British-born South Asian female engineer.

Henna (Mendhi) has taken me to a number of countries around the world while creating unforgettable memories in the process. My engineering mind has brought skills into my henna journey to create patterns and designs in ways that allow for a smooth and clean process while also making each design unique to my clients.

This unique combination has gained me over 3000 followers and the opportunity to apply henna to thousands of brides and clients over the last decade.

How did you come up with your concept?

My first real bride was in my A-levels, (feels like a long time ago now!) when I was approached as an amateur artist by a family friend.

It was here I quickly learnt the value of mindset, skill, money, marketing and speed. A 10-hour booking adorning this bride completely with henna from toe to knee and past the elbows. I left no area uncovered. To top this off I had 25 guests in addition to the bride!

‘This is just the start’ - these were the exact words that flew through my mind and I was immediately swimming in thoughts of how to make my process faster, how much I valued myself and how my mindset was in exact correlation to the work I produced. This little seedling of my business was being fed.

Using every opportunity in school, university and family functions, I’d find a reason to use henna or practice designs. An excuse with an agenda to create.

How did you actually launch? How were those early days?

Instagram was in its infancy and I had completed a bridal henna booking. I signed up to exhibit at my first event for a plus-size wedding exhibition in 2013.

No doubt, I was overwhelmed with fear, but the excitement of what to expect pushed me forward. I turned up, and finished the event feeling empowered to share my talent. My search for new opportunities began and I created a new name for my business, KV Mendhi.

Shortly after, I was invited to apply henna at a Monsoon Diwali event through another artist, further developing my connections.

Social norms and trends made it easy to get stuck into thinking ‘Am I good enough?’ deep down I always embraced differences, as it is what makes us stand out. It is this thinking that accelerated my henna business during this time.

In 2019, I began my henna business full-time and gave up my career as an engineer to see how I could grow my passion, little did I know what was ahead. Covid.

My first reaction was that we can’t go out and I’m not working so what do people need right now? A community.

Here, my 30-day Henna Challenge began, using my skill as an artist and little knowledge of Instagram watching henna artists around the world both new and established take part to be inspired and share their art.

Through consistency, discipline and practice you can be inspired by anything and everything, that was my message.

My following grew from 300 followers to over 3000 today.

What strategies have you used to attract customers or followers?

Environment - Remaining true to myself is what I believe has kept me on the path of turning my passion into a business. Creating the right environment by using everything around me to learn and share my learnings with others.

Mindset - 
Authenticity and a genuine desire to learn and be better every day. Leaning on mentors and instructors to get the best tips that work for my business. Mental health and mindful practice are core values and I utilise the traditional ayurvedic benefits of henna to create an environment for both my client and myself during henna bookings, as bookings can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 9 hours.

Knowledge share - 
Introducing training courses for a charity and for children who were not able to attend school during covid encouraged me to show the mental shift and health benefits in what we believe is possible versus what can be achieved. Encouragement goes a long way and I want to share that with my audience because we flourish when we are watered not starved.

Marketing - 
To gain more clients, there's been a lot of exhibitions, collaborations, Instagram marketing, & word of mouth. My Instagram has definitely been the most valuable tool to showcase my work and create transitions with reels for my ideal clients; followed by an extremely candid and approachable personality at exhibitions. The majority of my clients come from referrals and exhibitions as people have the opportunity to speak with me directly.

What has been your biggest hurdle? How have you dealt with it?

Historically henna artists have been seen as having low-value skills and although I am a full-time professional in engineering I wanted to change the belief around henna and the hard work that goes into the craft from marketing myself, creating my own paste through practice to delivering a bespoke henna design.

Countless times I would receive judgement for being a henna artist and asked if this is what I did full-time. The minute I would share that I'm an engineer there would be a change in the way I was spoken to or the respect I was given. This brought on the mental shift to disrupt the market and show that people with ‘professions’ can also be creatives.

I continue to advocate being a stereotypical professional in addition to a creative business owner/creative to show my audience the possibilities irrespective of judgement while encouraging uniqueness, whether that is personal elements for bridal henna or teaching in a way that brings out the best in my students.

Being an engineer I like to use systems that create efficiencies in time and processes as time is critical when juggling a full-time job and henna business.

Do you have a day job, what is it?

I work as a Key Account Manager providing consultancy in compliance and managing engineering problems within the Water Sector. I’ve harnessed skills working in a male-dominated industry that has given me the confidence and professionalism that I can transfer into my business.

What are your competitive advantages?

So I don’t tend to brag but when I look back at everything I have achieved and continue to achieve there is one thing in common, my personality, my determination and my belief in myself.

A simple philosophy of practice creates progress

A discipline that has been ingrained in my mind through years of yoga and taekwondo.

The ability to be respectful irrespective of background or status.

Years of graft and working on improving my application process.

My genuine kindness and being a mental health advocate.

Simplifying and always willing to learn and try new methods.

What my client wants in their henna matters to me.

Where are you today and what are you most excited about in the future?

Recognised as one of the most sought-out henna artists for weddings from the London area.

I am an established volunteer and Team Leader for PACE, a charity encouraging inclusion.

Featured in Aspire Magazine and soon to be featured for an exclusive with Khush Magazine, watch this space!

New products and programmes lined up this year, keep an eye out and register your interest!

What are your three top tips for others looking to follow in your footsteps?

  1. Believe in yourself enough to try, if it doesn’t work the first time, iterate and see what works for you to make your skill a success.
  2. Integrity - being in business involves building relationships and creating a network of people, always be genuine in your approach and you will have built a clientele for life.
  3. Start now, there is no time like the present for creatives. You are selling YOUR work and skill. It will always be valuable and unique.

What platforms/tools do you use behind the scenes?

  • Instagram - to share my work
  • Canva - to create my content
  • Calendly - to book appointments with my clients
  • Dubsado - CRM tool to lead capture and send contracts

What resources have helped you the most?

Favourite Books

  • Think and Grow Rich
  • Atomic Habits - creating habits

Favourite Podcasts

  • The BAE HQ - perspective on people’s journeys and successes
  • Diary of a CEO - learning how other businesses operate
  • Tony Robbins

Do you have any open job positions or partnership opportunities?

Always looking for partnership opportunities to expand the henna visibility.

KV Mendhi is looking for henna artists to join the team. Just email a cover letter with a portfolio of pictures and why you’d like to be part of the team!

Where can people find out more?

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