West

Business Plan

Noureen Design

Noureen Sultana's hand adorned with finished henna.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Noureen Sultana's hand adorned with finished henna.

In her native India, Noureen Sultana learned the traditional ceremonial art of mehndi, or temporary henna tattoos, from her mother, Zaheer Unisa Begum — who had mastered the practice through guidance from her own mother, Mahmooda Khatoon.

Sultana and her husband, Waheed Khan, married in 2001 and settled in Framingham the following year. A trained architect, she is in her 14th year running Noureen Design, specializing in bridal services of hairstyling, make-up, dressing, and the intricate henna designs inspired by Indian, Pakistani, Moroccan, and Arabic traditions.

Q. Did you do this work in India?

Sultana:No, because there was no concept of women going to work. When we came to the United States I got the idea, because you could not find anyone to do henna. When a bride gets married, this is one of the most important things.

Q. Waheed, what were your views on Noureen working outside the home?

Khan:We had an arranged marriage, so the first time I saw Noureen was on the day of the wedding — with 1,000 guests! I told her she should not be working, but every night when I was sleeping, she did her painting and embroidery. She said, “I don’t want to lose my art.” I said, “If you want to work, I will stand with you.” So we started her business.

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Sultana: He’s a good husband, and friend also.

Q. What is the demand for henna in Greater Boston?

Sultana:I do 80 to 85 weddings a year. I’ve done them locally, and traveled to New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and even Chicago.

Q. How long does it take to apply a henna tattoo?

Sultana:For a bride, it’s three to four hours for the front and back of her hands, and her feet also. It’s just hands for the guests, and I can do 15 hands in one hour.

Q. You taught henna to your sons at young ages; Danish is 11, and Mahid is 7.

Sultana:I want them to know my culture. Danish doesn’t do henna on the bride, but he does a very good job helping with the guests. I’m happy and proud.

Q. Are people ever surprised to see a boy doing henna?

Sultana: Every time. Once he starts, 20 people gather to see how a boy is doing this art. He tells them this is God’s gift.

For more information, call 508-532-0507, e-mail sultananoureen@gmail.com, or visit www.noureendesign.com or her Facebook page.

Cindy Cantrell may be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.
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