The Rural We: Elyse Sadtler
Elyse Sadtler and her husband, Dan Cloutier, who works for the United Nations in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, met in Brooklyn. They found living in New York to be overstimulating, so they moved to Kent in March of 2015. (Cloutier commutes every day to the city.) A certified teacher, Sadtler works at the Washington Primary School as a literacy tutor and is a freelance writer for the Lakeville Journal. She’s also an internationally certified natural henna artist. This summer, she has made a concerted effort to turn her love of henna (temporary body art) into a real business. If her schedule of events is any indication, she has already achieved that goal.
I got into henna in middle school. I had a friend whose parents were from India. I was at her house and her mom sits us on the floor and pulls out the Mendhi (a form of body art from ancient India, in which decorative designs are created on a person’s body using a paste created from the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant). I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I asked my mom if I could get my own henna supplies. I stopped doing it in college, but as a reporter I covered an event about henna at the Kent Library, and picked it back up again. My company is called Henna by Elyse.
I’m self taught — watched a lot of YouTube channels. I gravitate toward traditional Indian and Moroccan henna designs. The henna paste is made from henna, essential oil and sugar to help it stick to the skin. I do designs on hands, feet, arms and legs using a squeeze bottle with interchangeable tips. Or I make a henna cone, which is like a little pastry bag. I get the henna powder from a manufacturer in Pakistan.
It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to do a whole hand. At private appointments, I pick elements from different designs, or I tell my clients to create a Pinterest board of what they like. At festivals, I bring a design book, so people can go through it and pick a design.
On the hand, a design will last from 10 days to 2 weeks, if you don’t constantly wash your hands. You can rinse it off with warm water, but you’re supposed to let it flake off.
My first major event was the New Preston Summer Stroll. I just did the sidewalk sale in Kent, and stores have hosted me, as well. I have a bunch of events coming up: I’ll be at the farmers market in Washington Depot, Conn. on Saturday (Aug. 19), and I’m giving henna workshops at the Kent Memorial Library on Aug. 23, The Montessori School for ASAP in Washington on Sept. 30 and at Twin Star in New Milford, Conn. on Oct. 6.