At some point in our lives, I’m sure we’ve all fantasized about inking certain parts of our bodies.
But what kept us from taking the plunge to get tattoos?
âI am very scared. The tattoo confirms the first pain.
“Tattoos are permanent – what if I end up regretting it?” “
âGod says no. The tattoo is against my leh religion.
There are a multitude of reasons that have prevented us from going under the needle. But what if there is a temporary option?
And no – I’m not talking about those cheap tattoo stickers you get at novelty stores, or those metallic jewelry tattoos that are especially popular with Coachella attendees.
The ones I’m talking about look Great realistic – and the best part? They are temporary.
Jagua versus. Henna
Ng See Min, 22, is an avid follower of renowned global henna and tattoo artists on Instagram such as @veronicalilu, @mehndikajoeyhenna and @jikajagua.
One thing these artists have in common is that they work on their designs using ink extracted from Jagua (pronounced ha-gua), which is an edible fruit that grows in the tropical rainforests of Central America and from South America.
The jagua fruit is traditionally harvested as a food ingredient, but it is also believed to have many medicinal properties. Unlike henna, jagua is actually 100% natural and safe.
On the color side, henna leaves a brown or reddish-brown stain on the skin.
But the color of a jagua tattoo varies from a deep black to a softer black with undertones of blue, which looks like the color of a permanent tattoo. The stain usually lasts up to two weeks.
Price is another differentiator as well. According to See Min, the cost of jagua is US $ 40 (for 4 ounces of ink), before factoring in the high shipping costs.
In total, jagua is three times more expensive than henna.
Despite its high cost, See Min continued to import jagua ink so that she could personally experience this new craft.
A natural flair for drawing
See Min has always loved drawing tattoo designs on herself since her school days.
After scribbling with regular pens, she converted to using henna cones when she stumbled upon a henna stand in a flea market three years ago.
She was delighted with the discovery because she “could finally convert [her] from designs to two-week tattoos.
But here’s the scoop: See Min didn’t take any formal art lessons before.
Regardless, the National University of Singapore (NUS) Undergraduate Sociology has always had a keen interest in the arts. She never pursued him seriously because she âGrew up in an environment where art was seen as frivolous and impractical. “
“I started doing henna on myself, then my friends started asking me to do the same for them until it became a regular thing,” says See Min.
Over time, she built up a small portfolio of designs and started uploading them to Instagram under @ henn.drawn.
That was February 2016 and onwards until today – about a year later – she garnered a strong audience of over 6.8,000 (and it’s not over).
So what’s the secret to this rapid increase in the number of followers?
âI don’t have a precise strategy from the start. I just post everyday to increase visibility and give people a reason to follow me. Above all, I remained serious and sincere about my job and my passion, and to render good services. I am friends with many of my clients!
âI also rely a lot on word of mouth. I feel like people are more inclined to talk about my business when they realize that it’s really something worth paying for.
It is true that his number of followers has increased and more and more people have started to take an interest in his works. Businesses have also started to use his services and invite him to various events.
“And the rest is history!” she joked.
Difficult to put a price on his works
See Min insists she started @ henn.drawn out of pure passion – turning it into a full-fledged business was never her main intention.
âI never really thought about expanding until recently because I realize that I can’t keep up with the growing popularity. [of my services]. “
She confessed that running a business is especially difficult for a solo founder, so she often calls on her friends who are also artistically inclined to henna her at events.
See Min also finds it difficult to put a price on its services, especially when there is no reference.
“Learn to assess the value of my own work [is one of the key business challenges], especially when I am negotiating with a client for an event. Being a market leader is difficult because there is no one to compare to and no one to consult with.
âFor example, clients won’t pay me dearly even if my artwork is exclusive because they compare me to other common services such as traditional henna or makeup. Because there is no one doing the same thing as me, it is much more difficult to price the market.
On a typical day, See Min supports around 5-6 clients, for a total of around 30 clients per week.
Some of her renowned clients include Thai makeup artist Pearypie, local actress Rebecca Tan and Miss International Africa.
She met her clients in cafes to work on henna or jagua designs, and rarely made house calls except for weddings or henna parties.
Floral designs are one of her most popular works, but See Min said she has also received many requests related to animals, geometry and nature.
The price depends on the complexity and size of the designs, ranging from $ 20 to $ 60; and she typically allocates one hour to each client.
So here is the burning question: How much does she earn from these services?
âI never really wanted this to become a full-fledged business, so I never kept track of it down to the decimal place, but it didn’t cost much to get started, which was perfect for me as I am still a student. I started with henna, which is a very inexpensive material. The profit margin is so high that I can cover the costs with just one henna design. Now, with jagua, the costs can be covered after one to three pieces â, says See Min.
âI make about $ 3,000 a month just by making one-on-one appointments. With wedding henna and events, [my earnings] would be between $ 3,000 and $ 5,000 per month.
Despite the stable earnings, See Min believes that “Money is secondary”.
“To earn money by [this] is a real bonus, [ultimately] it is my passion to do what I do.
Reduce the stigma of body art
See Min thinks tattoos are still frowned upon in Singapore – this is seen as a “Sign of gangsterism or irresponsibility (due to its impermanence)”.
But the general disapproval of tattoos has sparked the rise and demand for temporary skin art so that others can express themselves without commitment.
Asked about her future business plans, See Min said she was currently renovating her home. Soon, her room will be transformed into a home studio so that she can make appointments and possibly give lessons.
âI actually plan to teach and spread my seeds because I think henna and jagua tattoos can eventually turn into something more and help reduce the stigma of body art. . I just need more people to do it with me â, she added.
See Min also plans to make waves overseas and venture to Los Angeles for a few months, with the hopes that Coachella and Henna Con will hire him to be a part of their large-scale events.
Asked about a business mantra she lives by, See Min said: “I believe that you should always be passionate and sincere about your own craft, and never lose sight of what you are fighting for.”
âAs long as you persevere and keep fighting to make your passion your job, hard work will pay off. People will see it and you never have to work a day.
Check out his work on @ henn.drawn and send him a direct message if you’d like to make an appointment! Otherwise, check out his Facebook page here.
Featured Image Credit: Time Out Singapore / @ henn.drawn