Meet the American designer bringing hijabs to the high street

Hilal Ibrahim tells young Muslim women to ‘be who you needed when you were younger’

It all started on Eid.

Hilal Ibrahim, now 26, couldn’t find the perfect headscarf to wear for the holiday.

As a high school student living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she didn't always have access to the clothes she needed.

“I ended up going to our local fabric outlet here and essentially created the first hijab," she said.

“Shortly after, I really put the vision for the company together and, as a result, Henna & Hijabs was born.”

The company was launched in 2017 and it’s gone from strength to strength ever since.

The young designer recently created a line for department store chain Nordstrom and customers can now buy her wares in 52 stores throughout the US and Canada.

“We were able to create a really beautiful collection of pastels and summer colours and materials perfect for weddings, graduations and the Eid holiday.

“There are many successful, accomplished, inspiring Muslim women here in the United States and this collection celebrates exactly those women and uplifts our voices."

The new Nordstrom collection includes five styles, from everyday wear to special occasion silk, and offers rectangular cuts as well as square-cut scarves.

Jen Jackson Brown, president of Nordstrom Product Group, said: “We hope this collection provides a sense of pride, excitement and confidence for an otherwise underrepresented community of women.”

Ms Ibrahim worked in the healthcare industry before making the jump into fashion, and it’s something she’s still passionate about today.

During the coronavirus pandemic, her company supported Muslim front-line workers by donating over 700 hijabs to healthcare systems across Minnesota.

“We really noticed a need for hijabs,” she said.

She has also received messages from women grateful that not only are hijabs now available in stores, but they can be safely picked up curbside, adding a layer of security to the shopping experience.

Ms Ibrahim says she is looking to lift up young Muslims, pointing to her own struggle with buying clothes. Her goal is to remind them that they belong in the US, too.

“When my sisters, my aunts and my mother are able to walk into a store and see themselves on a mannequin, it creates a sense of belonging and an identity.”

The young designer says the supportive reaction from her family, friends and the Muslim community has been humbling.

“The need has really been addressed," she said.

After the initial success of her venture, Ms Ibrahim shows no signs of stopping. Making more clothing options available for Muslims around the world remains at the core of her vision, she says.

“My biggest hope is to inspire many young Muslim girls, and I say that not only as a young Muslim woman, but also as someone who reflects on a quote that I often think about a lot: be who you needed when you were younger," she said.

Young Muslim women need to know that they can dream big and reach their aspirations, she says, and know and that nothing is impossible.

Updated: August 27th 2021, 2:45 PM
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