Sonali lives in Kolhapur and is quite efficient at her work. Though her road to success wasn’t a cakewalk, she made it through it all and was happy to have her husband as her constant support. And to know more about her and her work, we interviewed her.
Every story that we come across is so inspiring and breathtaking, and Sonali’s story is one such story that’ll make you get up from your bed and work on your dreams. She is nothing but an inspiration to so many of us. We at Mad4India, feel extremely glad to have come across this story.
Question – Tell me a little about yourself and your life before taking up mehndi designing as a profession.
I used to live in Mumbai earlier and after marriage; I shifted to Kolhapur. I used to go to Juhu Beach while I was staying in Mumbai to apply mehndi. I was married off at 18 as per the culture of our community.
Question – What struggles did you face when you started?
I have loved applying mehndi since my childhood. I faced little criticism during my stay in Mumbai, but when I shifted to Kolhapur after marriage, some people started talking badly about my chosen profession. They started questioning my career and said that there’s nothing much I can do with my mehndi designing profession. One day my husband saw me applying mehndi in my hands, he got me a mobile phone. The phone helped me to get access to the Internet and I started learning more about mehndi and started practicing unique designs.
I once called up in a training center to learn mehndi, and the charges were from Rs.9000-10000, which I couldn’t afford. So I learned everything on my own.
Question – Why did you decide to take this up as a profession?
Because I love designing mehndi. We don’t have a profession considering us not having the required educational degree. We can’t apply for jobs for this reason and if we get one, we wouldn’t be allowed to take it up. This is because a job has fixed timings and it wouldn’t have been possible to give my 100% at the office and at home. But we can do business. So I started a jewelry business by putting up a small stall near a mandir at Kolhapur.
Question – How did you reach out to people and tell them about your art?
I made business cards of my name and gave them to the customers who came to buy jewelry at my stall. I told them that I was efficient in mehndi designing and can do both bridal and normal mehndi designs. After giving them the card, I told them to contact me if needed. Several people had asked me to go to the parlors where they would have a package system but I denied it every time, as I didn’t like the comparison that happened there in terms of your attire.
Question – You continued working after marriage. So who were your biggest supporters?
My husband and my mother-in-law. My husband always motivates me to do whatever I want and supports me in everything.
Question – What were your earnings initially and what is it now?
Initially, I used to take Rs.500 for bridal mehndi, and now it is around Rs.3000-5000. And for normal ones I charge around Rs.200.
Question – How did you deal with your critics?
There was an incident I still remember. As I don’t charge a lot for mehndi designing, I got an order from a family, where I had to apply mehndi on several people. So I had taken another girl along with me for help. After applying the Mehndi in hands of 50 people, the bill was around Rs.5000. So they called me the next day to make the payment. I went and then they told me I charge a lot for putting on mehndi and that my mehndi didn’t give dark color and other related things.
After I started speaking up against the allegations, the bride’s father yelled at me and started saying stuff to me like I was creating a drama and people like me normally do this kind of drama, etc. I started crying. The way he said “people like you” sounded very wrong and hurtful. There was a lady who asked him to sit quietly and calculated the total and gave me my money and I left. There were criticisms related to my clothes, but I love being the way I am. And I believe that it’s important to stay happy with whatever you are. One should work hard but should not show it off.
And to be honest, I say nothing to my critics because I know what I’m doing and I love doing it.
Question – You’ve come a long way, Sonali. So what is that one dream for which you wished hard to come true?
I want that day to come soon where I don’t have to think twice before buying or doing something. That’s the dream I wish to come true.
Question – What are your plans?
I want to become a makeup artist. I have learned it all by myself with the help of the Internet. I had searched for professional training in makeup but the charges are a lot more than learning Mehndi designing. Soon, I’ll start buying makeup products and start learning it on my own.
If you liked this story, read about Tanya Kotnala, a designer who has been creating a social impact through her breathtaking art.
Featured image – Sonali
To know more about Sonali, please check – Instagram.