We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Jazz Nejat and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Jazz, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Shiraz, Iran and moved to Arizona when I was 6 years old. While I was young when I moved to America, I still proudly carry and hold many values and traditions of my home country close to my heart. My background definitely impacted who I am today for many reasons. For example, our culture deeply values loyalty and family – both which are extremely relevant in my life. Another example is how Iranian culture as a whole values knowledge in the form of degrees and accolades (think doctors, engineers, etc). So growing up, there was always a high standard to succeed, and I was more than willing to achieve those goals. I knew that my parents would love me no matter what, but I still felt like the way to really make them happy was through prestigious accomplishments – so I chased that goal fervently! I am grateful for my background and upbringing because it really did show me the true worth of working hard, setting goals, and achieving them. So I eventually did accomplish my goal of becoming a pharmacist, however, I realized I had rejected parts of myself in the process. At 29 years old, I have only started the process of truly uncovering and integrating those parts of myself as of a couple of years ago – and my henna business is a huge part of that. While I am definitely still working on learning more about myself, (it’s a life long process!) I feel more confident now than ever about authentically expressing myself based off of how I feel and my own personal values.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a pharmacist but last year I turned my love for henna into a business! I believe what sets me apart from others is that I am not your normal artist stereotype – I don’t have much creative talent outside of henna honestly! The reason why this sets my art apart and why I’m proud of it is that I do often have to switch between a career which is very left brained to one that is very right brained, and that affects my designs. My henna designs are more structured and traditional than many of the other artists I know, and I love it! Due to this influence, I want my brand to represent confidence and authenticity – just because you’re not like other people in your field, doesn’t mean there isn’t a spot for you too! Not only is there usually a seat for you at the table, but there are more possibilities available to you when you don’t try to fit yourself inside of a box. Never be afraid to be yourself and love yourself, even if you feel like others will not. People can energetically and intuitively pick up on authenticity and are drawn to it naturally! I know I make it sound like it is a piece of cake, but it’s not easy and neither was my path to success. I suffer from multiple chronic illnesses which have hindered aspects of my life due to sometimes debilitating pain and cognitive issues. My personality type of being a perfectionist and my upbringing in a traditional Middle Eastern household made me have extremely high expectations of myself. If you had met me 8 years ago, I never would have thought of actually pursuing an artistic career. I wanted to have authority and respect from everyone and thought that the only way to do that was through traditional schooling. Growing up made me realize that authority and respect don’t just come when you’re a doctor, they come when you are knowledgeable and have integrity. I truly believe that. And that belief gave me the confidence to do things I love, like henna and Youtube!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in downtown Phoenix so there are plenty of places and things that I would show my best friend if they were visiting! We would start off by eating, because… well, no one can have fun when you’re hungry! My go-to spot is usually The Coronado PHX where I can get delicious vegan food, pastries, and amazing coffee. If it is after-hours, and I want coffee and some vegan treats I’ll head over to The Grand since they are open late and have an awesome, trendy vibe! I tend to prefer outdoor and low-key activities like going to parks and going on hikes. I would take my friend to either Encanto park or Margaret T. Hance Park! If we’re going to do a hike, then I’ll opt for one of the many hikes in South Mountain or Piestewa Peak, which offers views and an intense yet do-able workout! Camelback is also a great (yet more difficult) hike that is insanely popular, but sometimes that means no parking, so I’ll only opt for that during the week and not the weekends.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to admit something – I am quite a solitary, self-sufficient person who doesn’t like receiving help from others or telling people how I feel. All of my friends and family have always made me feel accepted and loved just the way I am, but I just have a hard time really opening up to anyone about my dreams due to this unconscionable fear of rejection. Either way, they have lovingly given me the space to grow into whatever version of myself I was during any given time period. Most of my friends have been in my life for 14+ years for good reason… They’re amazing! My mom, my dad, and my boyfriend, Mike, have been especially influential and significant in my success in life as they have been my cheerleaders in whatever task I take on, allowing me to rely on them whenever, wherever. That being said, I want to dedicate this shoutout to someone who changed my way of thinking and showed me the road to self-love, and that is my therapist Heidi Ligouri. I’ve been seeing her for almost 10 years, and she has many times been a pillar of strength and compassion for me when I didn’t know who else to turn to. She helped me see that I could be loved even when I express my deepest fears and dreams. She helped me see that I could be vulnerable and strong at the same time – that I can be worthy by simply being, and that I didn’t need to achieve or be perfect in all that I do in order to be loved. She showed me that I could rely on my self-love first, rather than the validation of others, which has led me down a beautiful path of self-discovery. I wouldn’t be the person I am if it wasn’t for Heidi. Therapy can really work wonders once you find the right therapist for you and once you are really ready to do the internal work!