Women around the world celebrate special occasions by getting intricately patterned henna tattoos, and Minnesota is no different. Here, they do it to celebrate the special occasion known as the State Fair.
As the owner of Henna Art by Sole Shine, Deena Drewes has been providing henna tattoos for about 15 years, at juried art shows and other events as well as at the fair.
Henna is a plant-based dye with a “rich history of use in ceremony and rituals,” Drewes said. When first applied it’s orange, then darkens to a subtle auburn. (Drewes warns against places that use “black henna,” which she said contains a chemical dye rather than natural henna and could be toxic.) The design remains on the skin, on average, for about two weeks.
The Oakdale-based Drewes got into the business after stumbling across a book with a cover picture of a woman’s hand adorned with a design resembling the images she likes to doodle on paper. The book came with a kit; she took it home and practiced and decided to offer the service at a small art fair. It was an immediate success. “My booth was like a bee hive. From that moment on I realized I’ve got something good here.”
The business grew from there. When she found out that the State Fair did not have a henna-art booth, she applied and was offered a spot in a part of the fair for teenagers.
“Teenage girls have been paying my mortgage for 15 years,” Drewes said. “I love every single one of them.”
And vice versa. Teens flock to the her booths (she now has two on the fairgrounds) for more than just the body art, Drewes said. “We’re like therapists, we’re like hairstylists, people pour out their hearts to us. Being able to touch the lives of so many people and give them something that looks beautiful and they see themselves as looking beautiful now — that’s the kind of stuff that really fulfills me.” □