Jamila Abdullahi Zakari, is one of the popular henna designers in Kano. She was born in Gwangwazo area in Kano Municipal Local Government. After she graduated from secondary school, the 31-year old got married and continued with the business that she had started since before marriage. In this interview with Mustapha Adamu, she shares her experience, fortunes and problems in the entrepreneurship. Excerpt
When did you start this business?
It began during my junior secondary school days when I visited my friend at their class.
As soon as I sat near her on the desk, she asked me to give her my hand to draw flowers on it with a pen. I then stretched my hand towards her and she quickly draw fine flowers on my hand.
I later started trying to draw the same flowers on papers and even tracing the one she drew on my hand with a pen.
After I eventually became perfect with her design of flower, I then developed my own designs different from what she drew on my hand and drew finer and more beautiful flowers than hers.
I then began to practice it on children in our house and neighbourhood with local ingredient called ” dice” and a broomstick. Used to do it during Sallah festivities.
Realising my expertise and perfection, my friends then began to request for my services where I designed on their hands and feet free of charge during wedding ceremonies and sallah festivities. Later on my step mother advised me to start pay per service.
It was then I took it as entrepreneurship.
I collected money from every girl that patronise my service.
That was about 20 years ago. I thank God that I have made a lot of fortune out of this business.
How much do you make a day?
At normal time, not sallah festivities, I make minimum of about N13,000 a day. But I can’t ascertain how much I make per day during Sallah or wedding ceremonies because the customers come en mass during those periods.
How many customers do come for your service a day?
At normal time I get ten customers but during festivities, they come en mass that I can’t even count their numbers.
Do you render other make up services apart from henna design?
I started it but later on, I realised that it would be a burden on me because I am a married woman. I don’t have time for that.
I can’t combine house chores, henna design and other activities with the make up services because don’t have anybody to help me, that is why I stopped it.
Do you employ youth to learn from your business in order to establish their own?
No, I have only employed my younger sisters to help me because I am pregnant and have been given a day break at hospital.
So they are here to assist me. I only employed temporary service of a girl from our neighbourhood to help me do for my customers for just a day because they have come and I haven’t had the chance to attend to all of them.
What are the ingredients used for the designs and where are they found?
They are found here because they are imported from India, Dubai,
Saudia and other Arab countries. Ingredients used for henna design include “mahallabiyya”, ” Henna” and “Zobo leaf”.
Others include “Halib” and “Karkar”. Mahallabiyya, which is an oily fluid, helps firm the design on the skin.
All other ingredients perform the same function as the Mahallabiyya, they all help the henna to consolidate on the skin for beautiful design. Karkar also makes the flowers look shiny. There also Rani , red and black.
They are used to make the design look reddish or black, depending on how a lady wants it.
How do you cope with combining house chores with henna design?
Is a matter of management. I manage to do both. My husband and I, have good understanding. I try as much as I can to finish with his responsibilities before I come on my business. He already knows about my business since before we got married. So we have perfect understanding.