Hijab maker Minnetonka launches Nordstrom collection

A few years ago, Hilal Ibrahim, 26, from Minnetonka, was looking for a dressy hijab to wear for Eid, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Nothing she found was quite right. Big retailers sell all kinds of nice scarves, but they weren’t long enough, or the fabric was too sheer, or didn’t stretch well when wrapped around the head.

So Ibrahim headed to SR Harris, the Twin Cities fabric department store, and started sewing his own hijabs. In 2017, she started her own business, Henna and Hijabs.

Ibrahim first rose to prominence for hijabs designed for healthcare workers and now, thanks to a new collaboration with Nordstrom, she is bringing luxury hijabs to a department store.

Ibrahim began volunteering at St. Louis Park Methodist Hospital at the age of 14, and after turning 18 she worked in a variety of healthcare jobs, from receptionist to certified nursing assistant. .

One day, Ibrahim was working as a phlebotomist in the emergency room and had blood from a patient on his clothes. Since the hospital had emergency scrubs in the employee locker, but no hijab, she had to go home and change. Ibrahim also noticed that if a patient needed a clean hijab, the only thing the hospital could offer was a blanket or a towel.

Her design of a medical-grade hijab – made from a durable, breathable jersey that won’t slip, in a shorter length so the fabric doesn’t get in the way, with slits to accommodate stethoscopes and masks – was revolutionary.

“A lot of people came to me and told me that they could not have imagined the hijab in a health facility 20 or 30 years ago,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim sits on the Board of Directors of the Park Nicollet Foundation, but now focuses full time on henna and hijabs. She was particularly busy launching Nordstrom’s very first line of hijabs, intended for special occasions and available in a variety of materials, from silk to linen. (They are available online as well as at Nordstrom stores in Ridgedale and the Mall of America.)

Sustainability is important to Ibrahim, so she gravitates towards environmentally friendly materials such as organic cotton (“I want to become the Patagonia of hijabs”) and also prepares to sell organic henna (a herbal dye used for body art and hair dye), after seeing young Muslim women entering emergency rooms with reactions to harmful chemicals found in some store-bought henna pastes.

Ibrahim is also very committed to the accessibility and introduction of hijabs – which are hard to find at large clothing retailers – in more malls and department stores.

“I want Muslim women to be able to go wherever they want and buy a hijab,” she said. “I want everyone to know that Muslim women can become pharmacists, police officers, lawyers and athletes who participate in the Olympics, while remaining who they are.”

Rachel Hutton • 612-673-4569

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