Today we had the real pressure of speaking with Melanie Elturk. Melanie and her husband started Haute Hijab in an effort to ‘offer modern hijabs and high-quality hijab-friendly designer clothing’. Looking through their collection and hearing from their customers I think it’s easy to say that hit a home run! In addition to selling hijabs they also maintain a great blog on the site. Read below to see how Melanie got started and how she’s growing her brand.
When did you launch Haute Hijab and what made you decide to start it?
The inspiration came from working with Muslim youth in my hometown of Detroit. I noticed that hijab was an issue for young girls, not only for the girls who already wore it and struggled to keep it on, but for girls who didn’t wear it and had no desire to put it on. At that time, there were no real hijabi fashion influences one could look up to for inspiration. Haute Hijab was born out of a necessity that I saw in my Muslim community to not only provide high-quality, beautifully designed hijabs, but to be a source of support and inspiration for hijab-wearing women everywhere. The social mission of women’s empowerment is just as, if not more important than the retail aspect. The main goal of Haute Hijab is to provide a quality product while instilling confidence in hijab-wearing women worldwide.
Who was key to influencing you to get into the Fashion business?
There wasn’t one person that influenced me to get into fashion. There were a lot of little circumstances that came together. My love and passion for fashion and design, the desire to help my community, the fact that this market was completely untapped at the time, my husband’s skills that he brought to the table, moving to a new state and not wanting to take the state bar exam again, lol!
Have you always had a passion for style and fashion?
Yes! Since as long as I could remember I was very meticulous about what I wore. I refused to wear things my mom picked out for me as young as 5 years old due to a small detail that I didn’t like. Style and fashion run deep in my Lebanese Dad’s side as well. Some of my family members in Lebanon are in the fashion industry. In middle school I learned to sew on my maternal grandmother’s old sewing machine and by high school I was creating patterns and sewing clothes for myself and my friends because modest clothing was very hard to find – especially long skirts with no slits!
How has the jump into ecommerce fashion gone so far?
It’s been incredible! It was a natural move since the Muslim community in America is so fragmented residing mostly in and around large cities in the U.S. Creating the perfect online shopping experience became our number one priority.
Everyone seems to comment on the amazing quality of your product. What does your production look like? Do you have manufacturing here in the states or elsewhere?
Quality is and always will be a top priority for us. It gives us great pleasure to provide a high-quality product I can stand behind 100%. When we first started Haute Hijab we manufactured locally in Chicago. My husband and I then moved to Dubai to pursue an opportunity and as a result we relocated operations and manufacturing to Dubai. Today we continue to produce our products in Dubai as well as India where the best quality woven fabrics can be found.
You seem to really have a hold on the Hijab market here in the US. Do you have any competitors?
We came on the scene in 2010 before most of the online stores and retailers existed, which helped immensely. We’ve also been extremely dedicated to our customers, providing the best customer service and high-quality, beautifully designed products since day one. We definitely have competitors – some great brands that are doing a fantastic job and other more mom-and-pop style retailers.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I worked as an attorney while running the business for the first 6 years of operation!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Repetition makes reputation and don’t rest on your laurels!
What are your goals for Haute Hijab in 2017?
Our goal is to provide an even wider selection of hijabs and branch out into international markets. Our long-term goal is to be the #1 hijab brand worldwide. A worldwide hijab brand currently does not exist and we aim to be that brand!