World Hijab Day is on the 1st of February of every year and was first celebrated in 2013. Started by Nazma Khan through her non-profit organization in the US, the aim is to educate and celebrate women who wear headscarves and to foster understanding among communities. Today, World Hijab Day is celebrated in over 140 countries.
As part of the fashion movement by Muslim Millennial women to embrace wearing the hijab, despite being labeled as oppressed, backward, and many other negative connotations, the head covering is embraced as a badge of honor in the most literal sense. An honor to be identified as a Muslim, and an honor to be modest in clothing. Hijab as a fashion and personal choice for women has now gone mainstream, whether in Muslim countries that do not legislate the dress code or in the West where personal freedom is championed.
The global modest fashion industry is valued at $277 billion and is estimated to reach $311 billion by 2024. The largest markets for modest fashion include Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, with strong growth predicted for countries such as Indonesia. The average Muslim woman wears four hijabs a day and owns a total of 100. Furthermore, the demand for headscarves is rising as more Muslim women choose to wear it.
Sources: The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2020/21, Fashion Network.
There’s room for more businesses to start selling hijabs given the large market size for global hijabs and their growth potential. In order to start on the right track to starting a hijab business, we explore two case studies of the early days of hugely successful hijab brands, Haute Hijab, and dUck Scarves that started their businesses as side hustles which have now grown into their own fashion empires.
US-based Haute Hijab, and Malaysian-based Duck Scarves both have women co-founders who became influencers by using their personal brandings to promote their companies’ brands. Both started of with an eCommerce store and grow their fan base through social media. They cultivate a loyal fan base and engage with their online community.
Haute Hijab started off as a side business for the wife and husband team, Melanie Elturk and Ahmed Zedan. When they first launched their business in 2010, they still had day jobs. Haute Hijab started off as a fashion clothing line for Muslim women that included hijabs. It was only when they analyzed their data that they realized that their hijabs generated 70% of sales that they then focused solely on hijabs.
Melanie attributed their earlier success to social media. They started with an e-commerce site linked to a Facebook page and grew their followings from Facebook and via email. In 2012, when Instagram started, Melanie became the model for her brand and grew a community from these social media platforms.
Haute Hijab’s brand’s message, the story behind the brand’s existence, of faith and inspiration connects with their audience, especially in the US, where Muslims are a minority and hijab is seen in a negative light where anti-Islam sentiments exist. Haute Hijab achieved this by building an online community around its brand and by generating engagements from the community through their reactions and by the fans sharing their stories.
Haute Hijab’s marketing also includes planned dates for Hijab drops, where the latest collection of hijabs is promoted for a specific period of time.
In terms of design and production, the co-founders worked with a designer and source for types of soft fabrics and hired a manufacturer to produce them.
With their successful growth, Haute Hijab has received several rounds of venture capital funding to take their brand to be a global brand.
When the husband and wife team, Fadzarudin Anuar (Fadza) and Vivy Yusof, of Fashion Valet eCommerce store wanted their own hijab brand, they made sure that they did not dive into the red ocean of Muslim headscarves market, instead, they opted for the blue ocean of luxury collection of scarves.
In Malaysia where Muslims make up a majority of the population, the hijab is still a personal choice for Muslim women. At that time, those who wore hijab are perceived as unsophisticated and lacked fashion sense. This may be because the majority of those who wear it are of the older generation and of middle and lower-income brackets (think of the unfashionable older aunties).
It was easy for them to launch a new hijab brand, dUck, as Vivy had a large following on her blog and social media accounts. From her blog, the husband and wife team launched their online fashion store in 2010, Fashion Valet, and when Vivy’s personal decision to be a hijabi, in 2014, her social media followers increased dramatically.
dUck scarf was created as an aspirational brand, and it was easy as Vivy showed her followers the ultimate aspiring life: a successful career, beautiful family, and perfect vacations. The high price and fancy packaging were part of this strategy.
Their business has since attracted several rounds of venture capital funding, from local and foreign investors.
Start selling online. Both Haute Hijab and dUck Scarves (part of Fashion Valet) started selling through their online shops (eCommerce stores). With their continued success, they have expanded into retail outlets as well as continuing with their online stores.
While both companies started with their own online storefront (eCommerce store), there is also another option available to start an online hijab business: online marketplaces. Compared to e-commerce storefronts, where upfront payment is required to start the site, the benefit of online marketplaces is that they are usually free to list the products, and the business only pays the commission when a sale is made. There is more traffic from potential buyers on these online marketplaces compared to having your own eCommerce storefront.
Read more about Top Halal Marketplaces to sell your halal products here.
Decide who you want to sell to and what problem can you help them solve.
dUck scarves made sure that they did not enter into existing markets, whether in the form of a mass-market, often unbranded or served by a market dominated by another brand.
In the case of dUck and Haute Hijab, they both serve the professional career women who needed to dress professionally, with quality and fashionable hijab pieces in line with hijab office wear.
This is especially in the case of dUck, which had to differentiate from the mass market of headscarves.
Sports hijab is now being taken seriously by major sports brands such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. However, some might argue that these major sports brands are selling at premium prices while not fully complying with the Islamic requirements. by being too short or too small.
It can be said that the strength of a Muslima’s iman (faith) can be measured by the length of her hijab. A more pious Muslima would shy away from wearing short hijabs, preferring longer hijabs that cover the shape of their bosoms. Whereas a hijabista would not wear an out-of-season hijab style. For example, there is yet a hijab brand that can serve the market for Muslimas who want longer hijabs that are still stylish.
The key success for these hijab brands is that they built their brands with their business.
It’s not really necessary, but it does help your customers to remember your hijab collection more than the next competitor.
Branding is not just about logos and taglines. It’s about what the brand or company stands for and how they can connect emotionally with their customers. Part of it is in naming a brand they remember and another part is creating a background story for your brand. For example, if you target to sell to moms with young kids, you’d want to sell the convenience factor while still looking good in hijab.
Haute Hijab and dUck online stores wouldn’t have gained many sales without the right marketing channel and loyal fan base. The marketing channel of their days was Facebook and Instagram. Haute Hijab started with Facebook before growing really big on Instagram. Vivy started with blogging before growing her followers on Instagram.
However, would it work well to start on Facebook or Instagram, or start using a more popular social platform of today: TikTok? It all depends on your audience and target customers.
If you have your own design ideas and can source fabric materials, then it is easier to find a production house that produces hijabs. Technically, hijabs are smaller and easier to sew, and so should cost less to produce than a clothing line.
You could also try to find hijab manufacturers fom Alibaba, China’s largest business-to-business online marketplace. You can select from their preexisting catalog or ask them to make a custom production for you. However, this would require you to test out their production quality before ordering according to their minimum order quantity.
Read more: How to start an online clothing business
In addition to earning an income from having a hijab business, remember that by doing so, you’re helping more Muslimas fulfill their duty towards Allah s.w.t as well as helping to normalize hijabs and modest fashion.
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.
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