(C. Proxmire, The Ferndale 115 News, Aug. 16, 2012)
Curiosity and enchantment drew artist Monique Herzig to the art of henna tattooing, and now she’s got her own business drawing them on others.
The busy wife and mother, who also volunteers for the Library Board, is the owner of Alchemy, a by appointment only apothecary-style skincare and henna design studio.
But on top of all that, Herzig has taken time to pass on her passion to young people. In July Herzig held a class at the Ferndale Public Library for youth to learn about the art.
About 15 young people came to the class. “I loved hearing all their questions. One of the teens that came was already really into it,” Herzig said. “One thought it was a mineral but really it is a plant.”
She explained that henna dye comes from the henna plant. “The leaves are gathered, dried and powdered. You need to make sure you get a really reputable powder.
“You add lemon juice to it because you need a light acid to activate it. Often people add essential oils, often related to eucalyptus, and then it’s sealed with a simple sugar solution and left on for up to eight hours.”
She cautioned that henna begins to stain as soon as it is applied. The longer it’s on the darker it becomes – from orange to brown to walnut. There is a product out there called “black henna,” which Herzig said should be avoided because of potential toxins used to make they dye artificially darker than it normally would be.
The color begins to fade after 7-10 days.
The youth were each given an applicator and dye to practice for themselves. She also taught them some history and geography, informing them that the art has its roots in the Persian Gulf Area, around Africa and Eastern countries like Turkey. It is practiced in many cultures, but is best known in the Muslim world, where it is a common part of Arab celebrations. “Some people think it is religious, but it is a part of many traditions and celebrations, more a form of self-expression.” She even noted that dock workers in Egypt were depicted in hieroglyphics using henna.
Herzig does henna sessions for individuals, or groups may come together for a night out or to get decorated before a big celebration. “It’s fun to have a group come in and make it a social event,” she said. “People can bring snacks, beverages and talk.” She has her own studio space in the Ferndale Center Building and she also works out of Rouge Salon on Woodward. She credits Cheryl Salinas-Tucker and Jennifer Bulatovic of Rouge for helping her on her path, as well as folks at Aveda Salon who trained her to get her aesthetician’s license in order to do facials.
Alchemy’s services include henna art, skin care, facials and classes on making natural products at home including bug spray, lotion and shampoo. Herzig believes in keeping things as natural as possible, using ingredients like oatmeal, essential oils, powdered plants, yogurt and buttermilk in the products she uses. She also focuses on the atmosphere and giving customers a uniquely relaxing place to enjoy their skin care visit. “People are really looking for an authentic experience,” she said. Hopefully the care she puts into the products helps make that unique experience happen.
While the business is still growing, Herzig is grateful for her family and her customers that support her. “It’s very humbling when people will support what you really enjoy doing,” she said.