A University of South Florida psychology major is hoping to launch a professional henna tattooing business that will allow her to provide her fellow students a way to express themselves through body art every Wednesday at Bull Market.
Taylor Hlavacek, 20, became interested in henna tattoos through her friend in high school. She thought they looked cool and figured her cake-decorating skills would come in handy, since the techniques and tools are similar to those that are typically used in henna.
“I like henna tattoos because I can do my own designs,” Hlavacek said. “It’s painless, it’s quick, but it lasts for a while so I can easily get a good variety.”
Henna refers to the powdered leaves of a tropical shrub that are used as a dye to color the hair and decorate the body. It is also known as a form of temporary tattooing.
Hlavacek’s peers quickly began to notice her ever-changing body art and wondered if she was in business to do some for them. Samantha Kelleher, USF student and a friend of Hlavacek’s, has been continuously trying to persuade her to do one for her.
“I thought they looked awesome and wanted her to do one for me,” Kelleher said. “I would gladly pay her if they looked just as good as the ones she has.”
At the time, Hlavacek wasn’t interested in starting her own business, but with the amount of attention she was getting, the idea began to grow on her. She soon found herself researching how to make it happen.
“I plan on opening a side business pretty soon,” Hlavacek said. “Though I wasn’t going to at first, a lot of USF students were coming up to me and asking me if I could do henna tattoos for them and how much I charged. So I decided it would be a good idea to open up a little side business, and if it were to ever grow into something legitimate then that would be amazing.”
Creating a successful business while studying for classes is easier said than done. No matter how difficult it may seem, Hlavacek has figured out a way to create the exposure needed in order to bring her henna business to the next level.
“First, I want to make a Facebook page and an Instagram account specifically for my henna tattoos,” Hlavacek said. “I have already received a lot of positive feedback on social media. I also want to become affiliated with USF and (hopefully) work at the Bull Market doing henna tattoos for people. With any luck, this will help me with marketing and my clientele base as well.”
Bull Market provides a great deal of exposure with its location at the Marshall Student Center Plaza.
“Exposure would be my top goal,” Hlavacek said. “I think being able to do these tattoos, especially without using any stencils or designs that are pre-made, is a pretty unique skill to have. I think I can get this exposure through Bull Market because there are always students by MSC. I think I could have a lot of success here.”
Though Bull Market would help raise the level of exposure, it may not help raise the level of success. Henna may be a growing form of temporary tattooing but, according to Hlavacek, some people may think that henna tattoos aren’t for them, which may cause a lack of customers.
“Some people don’t like henna tattoos because they believe they’re not real tattoos, that you don’t have to go through the pain and time in order to earn the right to wear the art on your body,” Hlavacek said. “But the nice thing about henna is that it’s not permanent, so if you mess up it’s not a big deal. There’s going to be people that think its dumb, but for some people it’s a better option and it’s a nice way to make a short commitment to a piece of art you have on your body.”
Hlavacek hopes to have her own henna tattoo booth in Bull Market within the upcoming weeks. Her prices will range from $5 to $20 depending on the complexity and size of the design. She will also offer a special $25 deal that promises customers a new, one-of-a-kind design, which she assures will be their own unique work of art.