Playing sports in traditional religious garments can be uncomfortable, as you might imagine. Two entrepreneurs have identified that problem among a growing market — Muslim-girl athletes — and brainstormed a solution they’re hoping will take off.
Fatimah Hussein, a Somali immigrant, and Jamie Glover, a Minnesota native, are gearing up to debut a line of sportswear hijabs early next year, according to the Columbus Dispatch. A hijab is a traditional veil worn by many female Muslims; it covers the head and often wraps around the neck. Hussein first noticed Muslim girls struggling to play basketball at a girls’ club she founded. That’s when she knew someone had to create hijabs that wick sweat and allow a freer range of movement — religiously appropriate activewear, essentially.
So Hussein recruited Glover, “a veteran corporate marketer,” according to the publication, to help bring her vision to fruition. Of her motivation to get on board with the project, Glover, who was a collegiate-level volleyball player, told the Columbus Dispatch she “wanted to find a way to spend my working time on something that can make a difference.”
So the pair decided to get to work designing the sportswear hijabs, calling their new company Asiya, an homage to “a historical Islamic woman who was wise and just,” the publication says. The women have spent countless unpaid hours developing their labor of love, hoping they can roll out their product and engage their target market before competitors get in on the game.
They’re advertising the sports hijabs as “culturally appropriate activewear” and say their brand is “striving to level the playing field for Muslim females everywhere.” The buildup has been impressive. According to the article, Asiya made headlines last year by staging a sportswear fashion show. The team also “raised $100,000-plus in working capital this fall through the Minnesota Cup emerging-business competition and Kickstarter.” Hussein and Glover were able to use the earnings to finally hire a manufacturer to develop Asiya’s “lightweight, sweat-wicking hijabs.”
The women are dedicated to their mission to bring modest activewear to Muslim girls. “Girls who play sports are more confident and do better in school … and (are) more ready to compete to get a good job,” Hussein says of her drive to bring the activewear to young athletes. When the hijabs launch in 2017, they’ll sell on Asiya.com for $30 to $40 each, according to the article.
The women have high hopes for their product, and if it’s a success, they’re hoping to partner with community leagues and high school to produce customized, team-branded hijabs. From there, they hope to branch out into other religious garb for athletes — garments such as “long-sleeve tunics and yoga pants with a skirt attached.”
Asiya has some influential people backing it; among them are Minnesota state Sen. Kari Dziedzic and businesswoman Peggy Lucas, a University of Minnesota board member. The entrepreneurs have also been linked up Monica Nassif, a veteran consumer-products entrepreneur, according to the article. Nassif is urging the women to expedite the process more quickly. Time is of the essence when you have a very marketable idea that no one has capitalized on yet. “The [niche market of sports-minded Muslim girls] is growing, and someone is going to do something like this. They have to be fast,” Nassif told Hussein and Glover, according to the article.
The hijabs are being manufactured in the United States, by local Muslim girls and University of Minnesota design students.