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Linking Young Minds Together
  Volume 6 | Issue 33 | August 18, 2012 |


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Campus Trends

Small Businesses, Big Ideas

Sumaiya Ahsan Bushra
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo

Henna design brainstorming session!

“Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things.”
--American Economist Theodore Levitt

Creativity and innovation go hand in hand to some extent. Artists and designers alike use both their creativity to innovate something new. They imagine patterns in their minds and use it to create something magnificent and traditional at the same time. The youth of today in the context of Bangladesh has taken creativity to a different level and has added a new dimension to it. They have utilised their innovations to earn capital and give entrepreneurship a completely unique look. During this season of Eid, one such private business which becomes quite popular is Henna decoration. These small businesses of expert henna designers mostly comprise of women which adds a flavour of women empowerment through entrepreneurship.

As it has been a culture in Bangladesh for several years now, decorating a woman's palm with henna almost seems embedded in our culture. Without this, Eid seems almost incomplete for some! So who exactly are these women who drain their energy burning candles through the entire night before Eid day to decorate someone else's hands? Well, to begin with, most of these women who are involved in this business are young women in their twenties who enjoy doing this not just as a form of entrepreneurship but also as a form of creative art. Most of these designers are either university students or fresh graduates who have a knack to explore their creative skills and have had a fascination for it since childhood.

Check out the intricate details of each design!

For some, it began at an early age where they would take great pains gathering henna leaves from the rooftop henna plant, grind them and make small plastic cones just to fill the henna so that they could neatly employ it on their tiny palms. For such figures designing has always been a passion.

What is more striking about Henna decorations and these small businesses are their one-of-a-kind nature. The patterns are always exclusive in their own right even if it is a replica of another design, they are never exactly the same. This is because the artist behind it always uses their own innovation, adding a pinch of themselves in these beautifully embellished scorching orange and maroon colours.

Taiseer Zaman, a young henna artist says, “I have always been interested in art and wanted to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University (popularly known as Charukola), however, I never got the opportunity but I realised I could use my talent elsewhere. I studied at North South University and was a member of the Shangskritik Shanghatan (NSUSS). Whenever we had a programme at the university I would make sure I was part of the designing team. Slowly, during my first year at university I started my own small business with my henna designs. I became a professional henna designer and charged 180-200 taka to decorate one hand and around 400 taka to decorate both hands. Back then I only worked during Eid seasons but now I have decided to expand my business incorporating a bridal package.” Zaman further adds, “The prices range from 4500 taka for both hands till the elbow and 500-600 taka if one opts to decorate their feet.”

By utilising such creative skills, one can easily earn capital and make their pockets instantly heavy, particularly during hot seasons like Eid-ul- Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. It is a source of modest income and as most henna decorators claim, it allows them to earn a good sum of money during Eid. Additionally, the publicity of these businesses is done much like any other business- through social networking sites like Facebook. A majority of them have a Facebook fan page or have a huge circle of friends who spread the word and it rotates among different social circles.

Another young artist Samiya Khan expresses her views on this, “I started this business last year but had a niche for it for a very long time. Ever since I began this business it has been growing bigger day by day. All my customers are from outside and they contact me through my Facebook fan page. My package rates range between Tk 100 to Tk 2,500 depending on the designs and occasions. On Eid I provide a good discount to my clients and am always open to bargaining prices. I don't believe in measuring my work with the amount of money I earn per day. I want my customers to know me and my work.”

Henna decoration, for most young artists, is a profitable business. Although it is largely based on special seasons and has a set target audience yet it is a flourishing business in our country. There are no commercial motives behind this business as it is mostly about exploring one's creativity and inspiring other young people who have the skill to take part in it.


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