We had the good fortune of connecting with Amirah Aleem and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amirah, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
I do have a favorite quote! I’m not sure who to credit it to, but it’s “Aspire to Inspire before you Expire”. I love it so much that I painted it on one of the walls, among my other favorite quotes, in my henna studio.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Certified Natural Henna Artist. I only work with natural Henna paste and Jagua gel that contains no harsh chemicals or synthetic dyes. I mix my own henna/jagua cones to insure that my clients get nothing but the best and safest products. I fell in love with henna back in 2012 after a trip to Trinidad and Tobago. Back then, I was trying to find myself outside of being a wife and mother of 3 small children. At the same time, I was grieving the loss of my grandmother. She taught me so much about art and life. I was yearning for an artistic outlet for all the emotions that were flooding my mind. But, try as I might, inspiration and motivation always seemed to be just out of reach. Just when I thought that I had lost all hope, my husband and I booked a trip to Trinidad and Tobago to visit a prospective school with the intention to eventually live and study there the following year. It was a big step and I was a little worried, because it was my first time traveling outside of the USA. But, when we got there and met the people and began to experience it all TT really started to grow on me. That 10 day trip ended up opening my eyes and heart to so much change and growth as a person in so many ways! On our last day there, I bought my first henna cones from a little Indian shop. I didn’t know anything about henna let alone know how to do it! But I was determined to figure it out and keep the positive momentum going from that life changing journey. So when I got back home to Colorado, I went on YouTube and subscribed to a bunch of henna artists! I practiced everyday and learned how to make my own henna paste. In March of 2013, I made it official by registering my business with the state and launching the Beleza Artistica website. I start Beleza Artistica to continue the legacy of my grandmother Peggy, who taught me the love of art and my grandmother Clarice, who inspired me by running her own restaurant. Not to mention that both of my parents encouraged me to be an entrepreneur growing up, as they both were entrepreneurs in their own right. I continue to be a student in the art of henna and its traditions to this day. Getting into henna has taught me so much and has taken me so many places that I would not have thought possible! I love what I do and want to share that with as many people as I can.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooooo, I like this question! I would say some must see places would be Look Out Mountain for a hike and awesome view. 7 falls is another great one. I haven’t been over there in a long while, but from what I can remember it was breath taking… quite literally because of all the stairs hahaaa! There are also some sites in the city that I would recommend like the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library on 25th and Welton . They have a little museum on the 3 floor that gives a great deal of history about the 5 Points and a few other interesting nuggets of knowledge. Washington Park is another place that I would suggest. The garden there is beautiful the trail is nice and long to take in all the big towering trees. As for food spots, we got Shish Kabob Grill right on the corner of Colfax and Grant. Make sure you get the Hummus & Meat plate! I’m telling you right now their hummus is the absolute best! Pure Fire, lol! And for the vegetarians I highly recommend Native Foods Café, the Poppin’ Jalapeno Burger is too good, for real! And the highlight for me is their Lavender lemonade, oh my god, it is my definite favorite drink hands down! There are so many other places but I’ll leave it there for now.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Alhamdulillah, I am grateful to The Most High for everything! I’d like to dedicate this to all the Family and Friends that supported me in the early days of my henna journey up to this day. I really could not have gotten as far as I have with out each and every one of them.
All pictures were taken by Amirah Aleem and Shahidah Aleem