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Nordstrom Partners With Luxury Hijab Brand


For Muslim women who wear the hijab, it can be a struggle to find the right one for the right occasion. A lot of places just don't sell fashionable headscarves. But now women will have some more options. Nordstrom has announced a new partnership with Henna & Hijabs to carry a luxury line of hijabs. The new collection comes in pastel colors and delicate prints. The Minnesota-based brand was founded by Hilal Ibrahim, who joins us now. Welcome.

HILAL IBRAHIM: Thank you for having me, Leila.

FADEL: So, first off, congratulations. What was your reaction when you first heard that you were going to be partnering with Nordstrom?

IBRAHIM: Almost like a dream come true. It was a really humbling moment for me and just kind of reiterated why I'm doing the work that I do and why it's needed.

FADEL: Well, let's talk about that, why you do this type of work and how you got into the fashion world.

IBRAHIM: Yes, the company really started from a need that I first experienced when I was in high school and even around any time when I was growing up. And I couldn't find a really high-fashion, pretty, sustainably made hijab.

FADEL: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: And so at the time, the options that existed - stores were certainly carrying scarves. However, either the material was too sheer or it didn't lay well, or simply the intention was not for it to be a hijab.

FADEL: Right.

IBRAHIM: And so I've always wanted something different, too, something that stood out. I always loved unique, different patterns, prints and always was environmentally conscious, wanted materials that didn't harm the environment, wanted to know how the hijabs I was wearing were being made. And I simply said to myself, you know what? If you don't know, you can start making them yourself, and then you will know how they're made.

FADEL: So let's talk about the idea of ethically made. You advertise your hijabs as sustainable, ethically made. These, of course, are terms that a lot of brands have adopted in recent years as discussion of climate change and treatment of garment workers has become a more mainstream conversation. Why is it important to you, and how do you practice those values with your brand?

IBRAHIM: My - growing up, I was really fortunate and grateful to be raised in an environment where the amount of water we used was something that my parents made me aware of, and how we treated the environment around me and plants. And all of that was very, very important. And so, really, growing up with that and then taking that and bringing that vision into the company and also making sure that the way that the hijabs were made, from who was making it to - even to this Nordstrom collection. One of the reasons why it was always a dream for me to partner with Nordstrom was because of their sustainability practices.

FADEL: A few years ago, you started making the first health care hijab, and your company made some news during the pandemic when you offered medical-grade hijabs specifically for health care workers. Can you talk about that and sort of how you came up with this?

IBRAHIM: I actually have an extensive health care background. And I had a situation one evening. I was working in the emergency room, was drawing blood on a patient, ended up getting their blood on my scrubs and on my hijab. Even though there was a change of scrubs for me, I had to go home on a busy shift to change my hijab. And for me, that's when I really just thought to myself, oh, my goodness, I need to think of something. I need to solve this problem.

I put on my cap - or I should say hijab - at this point and really got to thinking and sketched out something that I thought could work, created the hijab using a breathable bamboo jersey material, made sure the length was long enough so it didn't compromise modesty but also didn't get in the way of the work setting, and presented it. Wore it a couple times at work, had some interest of fellow employees who also wore the hijab. But I presented it to our hospital and health care leadership, and I said, I think we need this.

FADEL: Do you think sometimes there's an assumption that just because a woman wears a hijab, they don't want to look beautiful in these outfits? And I don't know. I mean, do you think there's an assumption that there wasn't a market for this?

IBRAHIM: I think the need was always there. And what we've always lacked in the space, especially in the retail and...

FADEL: Yeah.

IBRAHIM: ...The fashion space, was the accessibility. I know that with this partnership, Nordstrom is one of the first retailers to have a hijab product available across their stores in the United States and in Canada. And it really answers the question of accessibility and the lack of representation.

FADEL: Right.

IBRAHIM: I sit at a crossroads of multiple identities. I'm a Black Muslim American woman, born and raised here. And to bring all of those worlds together and share that in this collection and then have it so well received is - just has been an honor.

FADEL: Hilal Ibrahim is the founder and CEO of Henna & Hijabs. Thank you so much.

IBRAHIM: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.