Posted on Nov 21, 2019
For many women, one of the most basic tools of the trade to corral hair into a ponytail or bun under a hijab is the ubiquitous scrunchie. It’s a pretty easy way to tie one’s hair back in a variety of styles and can be an effective way to round out one’s hair bun or ponytail, giving it a nice shape. A lot of us have that favorite, go-to scrunchie – the one that grips your hair just right and does not slip out, the one that gives you the shape you want under your hijab without adding unnecessary bulk or too much volume.
In fact, scrunchies are so common that you might be wondering as I did – why was it important for Haute Hijab to develop one? But, the more I went behind the scenes to understand how hard it is to develop that perfect, go-to scrunchie and how important this accessory is to many hijab-wearing women, the more it made sense. The journey to creating the perfect HH Shaping Scrunchie is actually a pretty complicated endeavor! I sat down with our Creative Director Gizelle Begler and had her take me through the process, from start to finish.
Models try on the Shaping Scrunchie in the large size with and without a hijab.
Tell me about the concept – why did HH decide to design and produce our own scrunchies?
As always, our mission is to make all hijab-wearing women feel comfortable and confident in their hijab. We want them to look and feel impeccable when they walk out the door. But what good is perfecting your hijab style without a good foundation underneath? We’re a hijab company, and we’re making beautiful hijabs, but if your bun is jacked underneath your hijab or your hair is falling out, then how can you feel confident in your hijab?
How is a woman holding up her hair? Bun shape is a huge thing in hijab fashion. A scrunchie is such a simple product, and you can get it anywhere. But, our products are designed specifically for the hijab-wearing woman. We’re not here to reinvent the wheel, but we want to provide you with the best possible version of it for your needs.
How did you do research on this? What did you learn about what worked in scrunchie world and what did not (in regards to hijabi women wearing them)?
The scrunchies that are out there – often they’re too small or too big, or they lack elasticity. They can be too loose or too tight such that you can’t wrap it around twice. We also know that a lot of hijabis who want some roundness in their hair wrap another hijab around their bun, and that is just too much weight on their poor heads. There so much tension and pressure on your hairline.
If we could design something to wear around a woman’s bun, does not weigh a million pounds and doesn’t slip around, then why not?
There’s lots of scrunchies out there. There are satin scrunchies, different fabric weights. But in talking to hijabis and with Melanie, the most preferred fabric tends to be velvet. It’s stiff enough to hold shape and doesn’t easily collapse. And the pile – the texture of the fabric – creates friction and doesn’t easily slip out of silky hair. Also, velvet scrunchies are one of the staples you find in hijab stores.
Creative Director Gizelle Begler shares her design drawings and early prototypes for the Shaping Scrunchie.
Talk me through the design process of creating the perfect scrunchie!
Like I said, we weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here; we were trying to determine what would make the best wheel – the best scrunchie for hijab-wearing women. Our research showed that this meant it not slipping out of your hair and helping out with overall bunch shape – making a more rounded shape under your hijab.
Creating our own scrunchie also was a personal preference of Melanie, who of course spends a lot of time thinking about hijab and hijab accessories. Then we thought about different hair volumes and textures. We knew one size of a scrunchie wasn’t going to cut it. We had to have a smaller one that goes around women with thicker hair. Then we thought about thinner hair. For example, my hair is not thick. When I make a bun, it is small and weak looking. I needed a larger scrunchie that I could wrap around twice. So, two sizes.
We found the perfect velvet fabric when we went to Dubai last spring. We walked around and looked at different fabrics in the souq. There are so many different kinds of velvet. There is a crushed velvet that is thinner and collapses easier. We had a sample made in that and realized that a stiffer velvet is better. Velvet can also go in the other direction and be too heavy and stiff. So, we looked for the right velvet and had a sample made.
We continued the sampling process once we got back to New York. We had our factory in Dubai create the samples, going through a lot of iterations to get our final product. You would never imagine the amount of work that goes into a scrunchie! We tried adding more seams as well as additional seams with ruching. But when we over-ruched it and over-seamed it, it lost its fluffiness and became this dense lump of seams and gathers. That was a fail.
We also looked at types of elastic and sampled several, considering both stretch and width. All together, it’s been about a seven-month process! There’s quite an amount of work that goes into a scrunchie. The quality of the velvet and the elastic, the labor that goes into it – it is substantial. But as with everything we produce for our customers and community, we want to put out a good product, made fairly, in hopes that you don’t have to buy another for awhile. It should last. And, scrunchies do last for years, especially when you have a rotation of them.
Gizelle measures Senior CX Associate Emma William's bun size as she does research for the Shaping Scrunchie
What is the purpose of the HH scrunchie? To shape your bun? What does that mean in regards to shaping your bun versus volumizing it?
The scrunchie is meant to help with your bun distribution. When you put the scrunchie around your bun, it rounds out the “nub” and gives it a nice shape, softens the abruptness of your hair bump under the hijab – hence why we call it the Shaping Scrunchie! We’re not here to make a product that gives you this huge bump under your head. We want to give you a scrunchie that gives your hair under your hijab a nice round shape and keeps it in place.
We also want to help speed up your hijab-wrapping process and make it easier for you to shape your hair. It serves a similar purpose as the ruching panel in some of our Ultimate Underscarves.
You may need to tie your bun with a regular elastic band first, and then wrap the scrunchie around it for a more secure hold. However, you can secure your hair with the scrunchie by itself, depending on the thickness and texture of your hair.
We definitely hope our customers love it! It’s been such a labor of love to create this accessory!