School dropout to social media influencer: Journey of mehendi artist Sonali
- Sonali grew up in a chawl with her parents in Mumbai
- She had to drop out of school in 7th standard as her parents couldn’t afford her fees
- At the age of 10, she decided to become a mehandi artist
If you believe in yourself and pursue your dreams, you will serve as an example to those who want to do the same. This is the story of Sonali, a mehandi (Henna) artist from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur, whose aspirations made her big on social media, so much so that actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas couldn't stop herself from sharing one of her Instagram videos.
Sonali grew up in a chawl with her parents in Mumbai. Like any other child, she wanted to complete her studies, and more importantly, learn English. However, things didn’t go as planned. She had to drop out of school in 7th standard as her parents couldn’t afford her fees.
But this did not stop her from dreaming. At the age of 10, she decided to become a mehandi artist.
She strategically chose the Juhu beach for her first mehandi stall.
“Foreigners also visit the beach often so I would talk to them and convince them to allow me to apply mehandi on their hands,” Sonali told Opoyi.
This continued for a few years and at 18, she was married off. She shifted her base to Kolhapur, which is a smaller city when compared to Mumbai.
Sonali was lucky to get a husband who supported her dreams.
“I did not have money to attend mehandi classes so my husband gifted me a smartphone. I watched YouTube and Instagram videos to refine my skill set,” she told Opoyi.
When dreams are big, the sky's the limit. Sonali ventured into the jewelry business. She started importing jewelry from Mumbai and Gujarat and started selling them in Kolhapur.
And like a proficient businesswoman, she makes sure that her clients know about her complete business. “Whenever someone visits my jewelry stall, I tell them about my mehandi business and get more clients,” she said.
The girl, who till about 20 years back quit her schooling, was now exploring new possibilities.
From TikTok to Instagram, she is an influencer now. She has over 22,000 followers on TikTok and 18,000 on Instagram.
Sonali's videos did go viral but she never thought she would be noticed by Priyanka Chopra and that the 'Quantico' actor would one day share one of her clips.
“Priyanka (Chopra) is my idol. I love her and she is my inspiration. I was doing my household chores when a friend called saying that Priyanka had shared one of my videos on her Instagram stories. I couldn’t believe it. I checked Priyanka’s handle 10 times to ensure that it was definitely her," Sonali told Opoyi.
From an unknown girl with no resources to a social media influencer, Sonali sure has come a long way but for her "bigger and better" is yet to come. And, she is working towards it.
“This is not it. I will continue to work hard. Yes, people know me but I do not want to proceed further through my videos. I want to become a makeup artist and hair stylish through hard work.”