We had the good fortune of connecting with Chanaé (Chaé) Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chanaé (Chaé), we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always had a creative entrepreneurial spirit. When I first started my henna adornment business, it was a creative service addition to my strassed (or “bling”) accessories business which I started at age 18. It’s also where the business name originated from. “Le Strassed Chaé” literally translates to “the sparkling Chaé”, and while it’s named after me (Chaé) it more distinctly means: The brightest, most shining version of oneself.
Originally an accessory and lifestyle brand that featured handmade jewelry and tech-accessories covered in jewels and rhinestones, Le Strassed Chaé aimed to empower and enhance the divine feminine within. By the time I added henna artistry to the shopping experience, I had already been playing in henna for nearly a decade, so offering it as a service just made sense. Eventually my love for henna overpowered the joy I found in accessory-making because I was able to personally connect with my clients, and I subsequently decided to rebrand into a beauty service based business that’s just as empowering as it is beautiful.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think what interests people the most about my story is the fact that I’m a non-Asian Henna Artist and that I’ve been able to push past many of the limitations found in this industry. In many ways, I’m breaking the barrier for entry into the henna industry as well as challenging, and perhaps redefining what Henna Artists are “supposed” to look like or the impact we’re “allowed” to make.
I’m not culturally or religiously aligned with henna in any of the traditional ways, yet I’ve found a love for the art and became a self-taught henna artist even before I embraced it’s African roots — literally. The plant that henna is made from, otherwise known as Lawsonia inermis (or the Egyptian Privet), is actually native to Africa where the lesser known origins of henna were born. I proudly represent the minority of Biracial henna artists here in the U.S., and it’s become my personal mission to re-introduce BIPOC (Black & Indigenous Peoples of Color) to the ancient art of our ancestors through individual henna sessions and interactive D.I.Y. henna experiences like the one I’ve created through my events: Mehndi and Mimosas (the first of it’s kind sip & henna party!) and Mehndi and Mindfulness (a mindful approach to D.I.Y. henna artistry).
I also teach aspiring henna professionals nationwide through my Henna Master Class and mentorship program, which is a tailored 1:1 learning experience that dives deep into the methodologies required for professional henna practice. I aim to empower the next generation of Henna Artists while showing them that they don’t have to be traditional in order to make an impact. I’ve had the pleasure of working with big corporations like AARP and YELP, hosting henna workshops with their members and career staff, and during the COVID-19 pandemic I was able to bring my talents online where I hosted my events and workshops virtually! I bring something unconventional to this industry and that may just be my best contribution to date.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many important people in my story, and perhaps I’m in cliché territory, but it all truly starts with my multicultural family! My parents didn’t blink an eyelash when I decided to learn Japanese, or join a Bollywood (and then Polynesian) dance team, so when it came to practicing henna I was completely and fully embraced. It was normal and encouraged in my upbringing to learn and appreciate intercultural arts. My equally as ambitious and spiritually in-tune Mother, has always been supportive of every creative and entrepreneurial endeavor I’ve ever picked up, and my late Father became the driving force in me taking my business to the next level with Henna Artistry. When he was diagnosed with an advanced and incurable form of Cancer in 2015, practicing henna was my way of coping through the inevitability of losing him. It was a traumatic experience that I was able to turn into something beautiful, and I now realize just how intentional that chapter of my story was.
Instagram: @lestrassedchae @hennabychae