Exquisite Henna Art: Nayab Hussain

The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy graduate on how her enterprise education armed her with the skills to go it alone

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Name: Nayab Hussain
Age: 19
Company: Exquisite Henna Art
Staff numbers: Just me
Company description: Henna artist – on skin, canvas and candles

Tell us what your business does:

My business is full of creativity. As a henna artist, I use my skills to provide a beautiful service to my customers, adorning their skin with henna art. I have also started to diversify my service to canvas and candle decorating using henna designs.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Henna art has always intrigued me from a young age, in particular the detail in the art. My school books were always covered with henna designs. While at the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, I was thinking about running my own business and I knew it would be based around henna art.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Today henna is one of the most increasingly popular forms of art; therefore there is plenty of competition among artists. However, my USP is based around the passion I have for my business, and the effort I put into creating a bespoke design for my customers.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before attending the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and starting up my own business, I was a student at Bury College and took A-levels in Media, Sociology, and English Language & Literature.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I have always wanted to be my own boss; however I didn’t know how to go about it. Most of my family and friends work for someone else therefore starting my own business wasn’t something I was confident in doing. But when I heard about the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy I knew that was my opportunity, so I went ahead with it and started my business as a henna artist. The most appealing thing about being your own boss is knowing you can make the decisions and do things your way.

What planning did you do before you started up?

At the academy, I was given plenty of support and guidance in starting up my own business. When putting together a business plan I held a focus group to help me with my market research and what my customers wanted.

In terms of seeking advice, my tutors were incredible and advised me on all aspects, ensuring that I was making the most of all the opportunities that were available for me.

How did you raise the money?

Raising the finance was not easy. In the beginning I had to under-sell the art just to be able to gain that little bit of finance, which I saved as I knew it would be required later on. To gain some capital to market my business I took on a part-time job as a waitress – I still work there as it allows me to save money required for extra marketing. The rest of the finance was either loaned from family members or reinvested back into the business.

How did you find suppliers?

My suppliers were found through networking. I now have a supplier abroad who creates the henna paste for me and sends it over. This gives me an advantage over my competitors as the paste is always fresh and of a dark colour, which the majority of my customers want.

Where is your business based?

As a freelance henna artist I am based at home, however most of the time I travel to my customers’ homes or to a location of their choice. Managing home and work life has been difficult, however I have tried to keep a balance between the two by staying in touch with family and friends.

How have you promoted your business?

When I first started my business I stuck to free advertising, such as Gumtree, which has worked quite well for me. However I am now looking to expand my advertising to give me exclusivity. I have flyers and business cards which help with advertising through word of mouth, however I would like to do something a little more creative.

I am also looking to take part in fashion shows and other events and promote my business through adorning the models with henna art, as well as through photo shoots.

How much do you charge?

The prices start at £5 and can go up according to what is required by the customer. I decided this through doing various forms of research such as focus groups and questionnaires.

What has your growth been like?

I expect my business to be profitable after at least a year of trading as that is when I will have enough experience and knowledge of the stock and marketing process. I am now more aware of what I will be predicting for the future and managing my finances more effectively.

What’s the impact on your home life been like?

The impact can sometimes be quite stressful as we all have home commitments and managing them has been difficult at times. However after a night of darkness the following morning the sun will always shine bright.

What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?

For me, the biggest difficulty has been getting funding and making sure that the finance is spent on what is most important to the business.

What was your first big breakthrough?

My biggest breakthrough was when I applied henna for a friend’s wedding. I was spotted by various people who also required a henna artist and from there my business name has spread like fire. I have gained plenty of business from that single wedding.

What would you do differently?

If I could change things, I would have been more organised when it came to first building my portfolio and organising photo shoots to get the best shots of my work. I have learnt that time management and good organisational skills are probably one of the most important aspects of making a business a success. Also, having a mentor to advise you is essential as young entrepreneurs can go wrong at times. Through the academy my mentor guided me and helped me to avoid making silly mistakes.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

My advice to budding entrepreneurs would be: keep growing that passion you have, as that is what will help you stand out. Know your business, do your research and just give it your all, because you can’t say you can’t do it unless you have given it 110%.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Do you have an exit plan?

In five years’ time, I hope to have expanded my business to employ various henna artists around the country. I do not have any exit plan as I aim to keep my business.

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