Farmers market nurtures young entrepreneur Livia Hershman

by: COURTESY PHOTO: ADELANTE MUJERES - Livia Hershman, 17, had to practice before she could create the precise, symmetrical designs she offers at the Forest Grove Farmers Market on Wednesday afternoons.Livia Hershman, 17 and owner of Livia’s Henna Designs, continues to make a creative mark at the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of the nonprofit Adelante Mujeres.

During the summer of 2010, just after finishing her freshmen year at Forest Grove High School, Hershman began designing henna tattoos for market shoppers. She remembers her first summer at the market: “One day some young children were hanging around my booth, watching me create a design. The customer I was working on looked at the kids, looked at me, and then asked if they were my kids.

“I was shocked, but also flattered because I realized that despite my age, I’d been able to create a successful business, which people usually don’t associate with a 14-year-old’s entrepreneurial skills ... the [Forest Grove Farmers Market] has both given me an opportunity to do what I love most: be creative. And also it has helped me gain valuable skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Henna, a shrub native to northern Africa, western and southern Asia, is traditionally used for dyeing skin, hair, cloth and leathers. Dried henna leaves are crushed into a powder and mixed with naturally acidic materials such as lemon juice to create a paste which is applied to the skin and leaves a temporary tattoo. Hershman uses her artistic talent to apply intricate henna designs.

“There was a definite learning curve to being able to create symmetrical, precise designs, and the key to continuing to create my designs is practice,” she explained.

Although Hershman isn’t a farmer, she sees the importance of food access and the community feel the local market creates. “I appreciate that the market puts such a strong emphasis on healthy eating habits. The combination of a nonprofit organization, Adelante Mujeres, and a conventional market community brings a sense of consciousness and positivity to the market. I appreciate that the market makes such a strong effort to make local, fresh produce available to all members of the community.

“The size makes the market possible for people to easily find the info booth and exchange money for tokens, benefit from the matching program and become informed about other market programs like the kids program.”

Graduating from high school this year and preparing for a year in Argentina, Hershman’s creative interests have kept her very busy. She will make her 2013 debut at the market on Main Street in downtown Forest Grove June 26.

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