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Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Haute Hijab!

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan to immigrant parents, Melanie Elturk found it challenging at times to fuse her Islamic culture with Midwestern American norms. “Try finding a long sleeve shirt in a store during the summer in the United States. It can be difficult to dress modestly,” she shared. As an adult, she wanted to support young Muslim girls in their desire to fully identify as Muslim and American. Her desire gave birth to Haute Hijab.

Melanie opened up about her journey with businesswomen and entrepreneurs during an International Women’s Day event hosted by U.S. Embassy Abuja. Her husband, Ahmed Zedan, actively participated in the program and discussed the role men have in helping to achieve gender equality. Melanie said, “I have the undying support of my husband, and without that, our business would not have flourished as it has.” She continued to reflect upon the role her father, an imam, played in her education and personal development and how her brothers supported her confidence that she could do whatever she set her mind to.

Melanie’s fascination with fashion began when she was a young girl designing her own outfits and making her own clothes. Though a lawyer by education and training, she told women with an entrepreneurial spirit to find what they love and work hard at it. Haute Hijab became a successful online conservative women’s clothing company, but for Melanie and Ahmed, it’s more than fashion and branding. It’s a lifestyle.

Their blog, Hijabi of the Month, features a Muslim woman who wears the hijab and contributes meaningfully to her community. Their inspiring stories support and uplift young women across cultures, countries, and religions. Excited by the passion and ambition she found among women during her visit, Melanie offered, “We would love for the women of Nigeria to share their stories with us.”

In welcoming Melanie and Ahmed to Nigeria, Ambassador James Entwistle said the business partner, husband and wife team “represent the best of America - hard work, diversity, creativity, and passion.” Their unique perspective going from a living room startup to a nationwide U.S. fashion company is an inspiration to Americans and Nigerians alike.

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