“What do you want do when you grow up?” A question asked by many but almost always answered with uncertainty. From a young age I always answered, “I want to help people.” How that exactly that was going to happen and in what capacity? I had no idea, but my answer was always spoken with certainty. It wasn’t until my junior year of college where I discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and humanitarian work. I embarked on a journey in the summer of 2016 with the non-profit organization Helping Hand to volunteer with Syrian and Palestinian refugees. I was exposed to a completely different way of life. A life of complete uncertainty yet gratitude, one where almost every child I met was a smiling orphan, a life where pain and hardship was experienced every day.
In the months following my trip to Jordan I discovered a pain faced by Muslim American women right at home. The number of scarves suitable to wear as hijab (Muslim headscarf) in mainstream retail are close to zero. This struggle took me on a journey to understand the true pains Muslim American women faced regarding hijab and modest apparel. After many pivotal moments I decided to take the plunge and introduce the products to the market myself. Although it was not easy juggling school, work, and a small business, the journey has definitely made it worth it.
Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering how these events correlate, but worry not, I’m here to explain. We often think that in order to help people one must be willing to completely give themselves to the cause they’re working for. However, this approach is not sustainable and leads to feeling burnt out and unappreciated, a basic human need. Time after time I would see individuals in the non-profit sector work long hours and slowly but surely become detached and unmotivated to their cause. I knew there had to be a better method, and I found that in entrepreneurship.
At the time I decided to launch Veiled Beaut, my company which caters to the needs of Muslim women in the western market, I knew I wanted to do more than just sell products and make a profit. One can say I was living up to my response as a child of wanting to help people by bringing products to the market that eased their pains, but there was a whole other cause my heart was also set on. So, I decided to merge these two concepts. I engrained into the foundation of my company a policy which would ensure this act of service and love for others, our Purchase with a Purpose initiative. With this policy a percentage of our quarterly profits go towards sponsoring refugee orphans through Helping Hand. Alongside this, we’ve introduced a domestic educational and entrepreneurship scholarship program in an effort to assist individuals in achieving their dreams. I believe talent is vast, but opportunity is not. So, the responsibility of distributing resources falls onto the shoulders of those creating opportunities.
My hope in building this business model was to inspire the next generation and instill a sense of responsibility. I’m proud to say that Veiled Beaut was the first hijab company to introduce such a policy and in just a short couple of years we’ve been able to inspire many brands to implement similar efforts, a true win for societal strides. Although I am very pleased with our progress I still have so many hopes and dreams for this company. The Veiled Beaut team is working tirelessly so we can introduce our most requested product line, modest apparel for the modern woman. I’ve spent the last year doing research on ethical production and where I can manufacture clothing that I know will be produced with quality, transparency, and proper treatment of employees. However, being in the US, this can be quite difficult to monitor overseas.
I began looking into the possibilities of local production and came across an organization based here in Virginia, MOZAIC. This non-profit organization was established to assist refugees that migrated to the area for residence. Everything from clothing, to assistance with rent, to training these individuals for work, is done through this organization. I had the pleasure of working with them for a project dedicated to making Eid, a Muslim holiday, a little brighter for the refugees under this organization with new clothing and gifts through Veiled Beaut. I was pleasantly surprised to see their level of dedication as well as all the work they were doing for these individuals at a local capacity, it truly warmed my heart. I’ve been working with the individuals from this organization to see if we can establish a small but effective production line to begin local manufacturing for modest apparel and hijabs. After many discussions it became very apparent that many of the refugees who seek occupation here in Virginia actually made clothing for a living back home. These are talented individuals with so much to offer but are met with zero opportunity due to the lack of demand in this area. I aspire and work hard every day to change that.
Nothing can be done alone, a valuable lesson I learned when I first started my company. I know this task won’t be simple but with the right mentorship and guidance, anything is possible. Due to the fact that I haven’t been able to accomplish such a task on my own, I know I’ll need assistance in navigating the uncertainties which will come with this initiative. I’ve always believed that the right mentorship can not only take your business to the next level but can assist with your own personal transformation, it is truly an invaluable asset to have access to. With that being said, I haven’t had the greatest of luck when it comes to a dedicated mentor. I’ve received profound wisdom and advice from professors, colleagues, and even other entrepreneurs, but unfortunately I haven’t found a lifelong mentor. I genuinely believe having access to such an individual will allow myself, my company, and my aspirations to reach new levels.