Monique Herzig, owner of Alchemy Slow Living Studio in Ferndale, is spreading positivity and wellness throughout Metro Detroit with the art of touch. She talks about what inspired her to become a henna artist, her most memorable project and favorite local spots
By Alexandra London
Featured photo via Alchemy Slow Living Studio Facebook
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background. I have a BS in Recreation and Leisure Studies, and have done many things: intakes at a women’s shelter to working in the marketing department at a major health system, and I served on our local library board. I am currently the owner of Alchemy Slow Living Studios. I share my Ferndale home with my husband, two teens and two dogs.
2. What inspired you to become a henna artist and how did you get started in the industry? When my kids were really little I was introduced to henna as a way to connect with them. I had no idea how much henna was going to inspire and inform so much of the last decade.
3. Did you do any special training or are you self taught? Thank goodness for mentors and teachers! I consider myself to be a student of henna. You could spend a lifetime delving into only one henna lineage: Moroccan (done with a syringe), West Africa tape resist techniques, Indian and Arabic styles (usually done with the cone most of us are familiar with). I’ve attended conferences from coast to coast to learn history, technical skills and many different styles.
4. What is your favorite thing about your job? My work is meaningful. Touch is essential, and I love the people I meet.
5. What does a typical day/week look like for you? Most days start by mixing fresh henna when I get up to feed the dogs and make coffee. Because I don’t do walk-ins, I can dedicate my full attention to each client or small group. After a quick consult, I make up the design with input from the client. And I juggle kids, dinner, friends and business chores.
6. Can you share a memorable project, event or a client that you worked on and why the experience was so special? There are many moments in my work: the radiance of a cancer survivor with her henna crown; henna-ing the feet of a newborn because the family’s tradition says it protects the baby; and the woman who said, “I get so busy taking care of EVERYTHING, that I forget to feel feminine”.
7. Do you make your own henna? If not, where do you source or get it from? Henna is a plant and it doesn’t thrive in the US. Some of the best is imported from Rajasthan, India. I get the milled powder sent to me. It’s the texture of baking flour, but green. I mix it with water and essential oils to make a pate.
8. Outside of your henna art services, can you share some of the other unique offerings that you provide? I make sophisticated fragrances from natural elements: my most popular is my Alchemy Florida Water.
9. If you weren’t a henna artist, what would you be instead? Alchemy would look only a little different: I’d still be doing facials, making perfumes and skincare. (Though I haven’t ruled out becoming a Sign Language Interpreter.)
Now onto some fun…
10. What was your first job growing up? I worked inside one of those colorful carnival food trucks serving up cotton candy.
11. What’s currently on your playlist? Massive Attack with Tracy Thorn, Angelique Kidjo and Fleetwood Mac.
12. What was your favorite TV show as a kid? Brady Bunch (reruns).
13. Three things you can’t live without? Good coffee, community and henna.
14. Dream vacation destination? Morocco. I was there for 10 days last year. It was amazing! I met awesome people and ate fantastic food. And I’ll be back there in March for a Henna Retreat I’m working on with some colleagues.
Local Love Questions…
15. Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner? We have tried to support independent restaurants during the shut down, we LOVE Rocco’s Italian Deli sandwiches for a lunch option. Also the Falafel Doner Bowl from Balkan House. Breakfast is trickier. We live by Kuzzo’s and love their chicken waffles. Hands Down: Shewolf for dinner. Have the cachio e pepe.
17. Your go-to for a good cup of coffee? The Red Hook (Ferndale or Agnes Street).
18. Favorite thing to do on a weekend in Metro Detroit? Take a workshop! I love working with my hands and have taken some really cool workshops at POST and Signal Return.
19. What do you love about Detroit? Variety! You can satisfy almost any craving in Detroit — for an activity or a flavor.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? “For fast acting relief, try slowing down” — Lily Tomlin (a Detroiter!)