About Ms. Nimisha Parekh

In conversation with Ms. Nimisha Parekh who is an inspiration for all when it is said if you’re good at something, never do it for free. She’s the one who recognize herself and showed the faith in herself strongly. A strong woman made of principles, becomes spectacular. Being a Surti, let’s get to know her better.

How was your childhood?

Well, my childhood was mostly a vanilla fare. No major ups or downs, nothing glaringly outstanding. It was a very regular middle-class life for me growing up, by and large pretty uneventful. Being the youngest amongst siblings, I was pretty much left out of action for most part.

What were you interested in as a child?

I had been quite tomboyish in my early days and also during my youth. However, one major interest of mine was creating patterns and designs using a mehndi cone. I can easily say that the one major interest I had as a kid, was Mehndi art.

Tell us that one thing that your parents taught you that you remember strongly.

Well, like I mentioned earlier, I was brought up in a middle-class family and was the youngest in my family. Nothing major came my way that could be classified as a major or strong teaching; but I do remember my mother inculcating in me strong people skills. She always used to tell me that a girl must learn three words and live them to have a happy life. These three words were, in Gujarati, “Chaalshe, Faavshe, & Gamshe”; which generally meant that I must always be accommodating and must look at making others comfortable. I believe that these have major merits in them, with a few demerits too if not taken in the right context.

How did this journey begin?

As a kid, I was never good at drawing or sketching with a pencil. But given a mehndi cone and my mind started going ballistic with zillions of happy and cheerful thoughts that I could transfer as designs on someone’s hands. As a student, I used to participate in many mehndi competitions organised locally and this got me enthused and managed to challenge me creatively. And as it happens with most, I too used to have the next-door neighbour or a relative coming over to our home to have some mehndi design applied on their palms and hands. This is where I took my first steps as a mehndi artist. I was probably 8 or 10 years old then.

Who is your inspiration?

Well, Lord Krishna is my inspiration-in- chief. I believe that whatever creations happen through my cone, are not done by me but by Krishna himself. It’s as if he is creating designs using my hand as the vehicle of delivering Mehndi Art. And yes, life itself has offered me many incidents, opportunities and challenges that have gone on to inspire me to do what I did and continue to do so.

What are the hardships you faced when you started this journey?

Everyone grows in life amidst challenges, pain and hardships. I am no different. Being a woman, pursuing mehndi art as a profession, having no prior business experience, having no capital to invest and not being aware in the ways to monetize my art, often not being paid for work, having no believers in the family to back my idea and a society that was too trigger happy to shoot me down at every possible misstep were all working in sync to pull me down. Doing Mehndi in our society was never looked up as a profession of respect. People around used the ‘Mehndiwaali’ tag too often. And in our society, “waali” has a very negative and dark connotation to it. My moment of truth arrived when as a young child I assisted a relative in doing mehndi for someone and this assignment lasted until 3 am in the morning. I did my best and the client was deeply satisfied. However, next day she came home and handed an envelope containing the payment, but addressed only to my older relative. I asked my mom, “What’s the amount for me” and her answer was “NOTHING”. This broke me and I wept inconsolably. But probably this incident was also the turning point of my life, where I decided that now onwards I won’t ever do a FREE-MEHNDI. But truly, hardships are what make all of us sharpen ourselves and brighten our shine.

What do you attribute your success to?

I’d rather say, WHO do I (apart from my parents’ blessings) attribute my success to? Well, despite the seed being there in me, it could never have taken the shape of the giant tree that it is today, had it not been for two people, Himadri Sinha (Founder & CEO of MehndiCultr) and his wife, Sarita Sinha (Co-founder and COO) from Baroda. Himadri was my coach in 2002 (I was getting trained to be a Life Advisor), but those 18 days I spent in his company, transformed my thinking and shifted my paradigms 360 degrees. It was Himadri’s & Sarita’s idea that took me out of my home and into the world of business and its with their constant prodding and encouragement that I am where I am today. MehndiCultr is a dream seen by them and is being actively nourished by them. They are building the business and opening up newer avenues every single day while I play the role of the creating mehndi art. It’s a team that has now created this massive organisation with footprints in 18 countries. I can say, my success owes everything to the belief my partners have in my art and the belief I have in their vision for the company.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

I would simply say, if you want to be in this field, be ready to think BIG. Be ready to persist and bring all your passion of mehndi art into offering the best work to your clients. Nothing succeeds in this business as the power of your honest intent. If you are thinking that this is an easy-money : big-money opportunity, then you will disintegrate quicker than your thoughts. Money will come only when you manage to delight the hearts of your clients with your work. Also, while starting out, a good way forward would be to associate with artists or mehndi outfits that have managed to create a space for them and who believe in nurturing new talent. Having a mentor is a definite plus as it takes away years of learning from your own mistakes.

A message to all the aspirants in the same field.

Be original. Be the real deal. Copy people’s passion, but desist from plagiarism. Your creativity must be your signature. You may use an existing architecture, but try owning it through your own creativity. I did that when I pioneered the use of Warli Art and Sikku Kolam in the field of mehndi. Both art forms got instant global recognition (both were premiered in the US), only due to the innovations I introduced while creating Warli & Kolam designs. The art existed, but no one used it in my industry prior to me and this is where originality (use of mehndi as a medium) and innovation worked. So, let your creative juices flow freely and allow your heart to sing fearlessly. And soon, you’ll create magic.

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