20 Muslim Women to Watch in 2020

Melanie Elturk

— As told to Jessica Daqamsseh

From chiffon and jersey to modal and satin, Haute Hijab offers a wide array of beautiful, high quality, and comfortable hijabs for all Muslim women. Since the company’s inception in 2010, Melanie Elturk, alongside her husband and business partner, Ahmed Zedan, have transformed the online American market for Muslim women’s fashion.

Haute Hijab is the leading hijab brand in the U.S. with 17 staff members, a large social media following, and over $2.3 million raised in their last financial round. To say Elturk has transformed the modest fashion industry would be an understatement.

Find your passion, sharpen your God-given talents, and never let anyone tell you you can’t use those two things to determine your future.

The HH platform is not just about having fun with hijab, but also “about how important it is in our religion and how important your relationship with God is.” Elturk wants Muslim women to feel confident in their hijab while also remaining mindful of hijab’s ultimate purpose: devotion to and remembrance of Allah. Her company’s values — from sustainable investment to ethical production — prove how central the message of taqwa, or God-consciousness, is to HH.

Elturk states that the Islamic concept of ihsaan — “doing everything with beauty and excellence” — inspires her company’s development and on-going projects. Her vision goes beyond the consumerism mentality of profit for profit’s sake, and presents Muslim women with a real choice in high quality products produced by a God-conscious company that values quality and respect for the environment, and for their employees, above mindless consumption.

In this sit down with Muslim Girl, Melanie talks about what gives her the motivation to keep pushing for positive change.

Muslim Girl: What is your biggest inspiration behind the work that you do?

Definitely our customers. Any girl out there who’s just trying to be herself in hijab. Every Muslim woman who wants to wear hijab but doesn’t because she fears for her safety, sense of belonging, or acceptance. If I didn’t hear such heartwarming stories from our customers on a regular basis, I don’t think I’d have the motivation to keep going as hard as I do. They are the fuel that keeps me going. 

What has been the best lesson that you’ve learned along your journey?

That finding our purpose in life is the most important job we have on earth. The cliche is true — do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. 

What is the most important challenge you choose to overcome as a Muslim woman in your field?

I wouldn’t say that any challenges I face are a result of being a Muslim woman per se. I actually think it’s a huge advantage for many reasons. People take me seriously. They want to hear what I have to say. They usually remember me when I’m the only hijabi in the room. I’ve honestly used it to my advantage. 

What’s the one message you hope to deliver to the next generation of Muslim girls?

Find your passion, sharpen your God-given talents, and never let anyone tell you you can’t use those two things to determine your future.

Too often we succumb to familial and societal expectations of what our lives should look like; what fields to get into, what our spouses should look like, even where to live. Let your heart, fueled by Allah’s guidance, guide you through life. That, and stop worrying about what boys think. 

What do you wish you could say to yourself 10 years ago?

You are about to embark on the craziest ride you could never have imagined yourself — Enjoy. Every. Minute. Of. It!