Posted on Oct 31, 2019
Once upon a time two good friends got together for a brunch and catch up. They got to talking about wanting to create a space by Muslim women for Muslims, where they could embrace their identities and find a place for themselves (and others like them). That collaboration between Monica Traverzo and Nicole Queen – resulting in the Salam Girl! podcast – is now reaching it's one-year anniversary in November with more than 50 episodes under their proverbial belts!
Monica, a mother to four children, never thought she would be a podcaster or even a Muslim ten years ago. But now she is fully committed to living a Muslim life that is authentic and all her own while delivering content and stories to other Muslim women in ways that are modern and relatable. Their podcast also attracts non-Muslim listeners because, as Monica says, "Both [of us] being converts, we know what it's like to not be a Muslim and begin to hear things about Islam."
I recently reached out to Monica to hear her Salam Girl! story and talk to her about what her favorite podcast episodes are, which episodes surprised her (in which she had to confront her own imposter syndrome) and why she loves wearing our viscose hijabs so much! Check it out!
Monica Traverzo of the Salam Girl! podcast wearing our Viscose Hijab in Rose Mauve.
Your author bio on the Salam Girl! podcast says, “If you met me 10 years ago, you and I both would have never thought I would fall in love with a new religion and become the proud Muslim woman I am today.” Why is that?
Ohhh girl, yes! Truthfully, I was just your typical self-absorbed, college party girl. My parents divorced right when I graduated high school, and so I had a very rebellious stage going into college. Once the dust settled a little bit and I realized I needed faith to ground me. That’s when Allah really opened my eyes to Islam. Alhamdullilah! So, you never know if that girl who just went to the club to party after finishing her midterm might one day dedicate herself to praying five times a day!
When did you and your partner, Nicole Queen, start the podcast? What was the premise?
We are super excited and proud that we are coming up on our one year anniversary in November! We’re going to celebrate in a big way! So girls, get ready! Nicole and I wanted to create a space by Muslim women for Muslim women to embrace our identity while also creating space for community as we all embark on this journey of self-discovery together.
How did you come to partner with Nicole on this?
Nicole and I decided to grab brunch one day and catch up. She is a creative mind, Masha’Allah, and had a YouTube channel when she approached me about the idea of doing a video about identity after converting to Islam. I felt a bit hesitant (and honestly a little intimidated!) by the idea, but later on I suggested hosting a joint podcast. Nicole was so keen on the idea, and that topic ended up being our very first show. Salam, Girl! was launched!
Religion is at the heart and soul of your podcast. Do you consider it dawah? If so, how?
For sure! Our content is something that people from all different backgrounds can relate to. We’re able to deliver dawah (the act of spreading or teaching about Islam) in a way that is modern and relatable. Our contemporary approach attracts non-Muslim listens, too. Both being converts, we know what it’s like to not be a Muslim and begin to hear things about Islam. So, we’re able to reach out to people in ways only a convert could.
How do you and Nicole come up with ideas for the podcast? Because there is quite a range to what you cover, from talking about the first Muslim sorority in American Colleges (Mu Delta Alpha) to discussing relationships during the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw).
We love that there is such a range of topics in our show! We wanted to showcase all the different dynamics that a Muslim woman can be, because we definitely all aren’t this one-of-a-kind Muslim woman who you can paint with a single brush. Nicole and I bounce ideas back and forth off each other and record the show if we find it interesting! We like to mix it up and surprise our audience with fresh topics, and sometimes we will do a series of shows where we discuss topics like hijab!
Nicole Queen (on the left) and Monica (on the right) of the Salam Girl! podcast.
What have been some of your most favorite podcasts you’ve done thus far and why?
My favorites are the ones where it’s just us chatting with each other and being ourselves! We will record those solos, and I’ll forget that we are even recording! There is this one we did a while ago about getting to know us, and we still crack up at the super random things we said. Probably no one cared for that episode, LOL, but it’s so funny to me!
What is a podcast you’ve done that surprised you – maybe it went in a direction you didn’t anticipate, or maybe you learned something new?
Definitely my conversion story! Talking about that was really nerve-wracking for me! I have told the story over and over again, but never have I had it documented. Will my kids hear this one day? Did I deliver it in a way that gave the impact I felt? Oh, and the part where I got to my husband felt messy to me because I feel like you can really tell that I was hesitant to dive deep. It’s because I really treasure our relationship and story and didn’t know how to talk about it the right way. So, I had total imposter syndrome on this episode, but I was so happy with the response from our audience. It was emotional. I loved the outcome of it!
Salam Girl! has grown exponentially since it first debuted. How many episodes have you all put out? How have you grown from doing the podcast into social media influencing world?
I am going to brag on Nicole here, she hates it when I do that but I can’t help it!! She is the rock star producer of the show and has not missed a single week in getting an episode out since we’ve started. That’s 50 episodes, Masha’Allah! I have no clue how to do that tech-y stuff, but I’m her loudest cheerleader! LOL! You’ll see me in the comments, replying to your DMs and emails. I enjoy keeping our IG active and content in line with our brand. Nicole jumps on all that too!
Social media is part of building our Salam Girl! brand and having a platform with a voice. Building a community space and making connections is really important to both of us. We wanted our girls to know us better, and so we love being active on Instagram @salamgirlpodcast. We share photos, also by the talented Nicole and her photography business, and we love collaborating with #muslimgirlbosses! We also have an exclusive FB group for us girls to chat called #salamsquad.
Monica and her beautiful family.
You have four children! How old are they? How much does your parenting life inspire what you want to do with the podcast?
They keep me on my toes, and I LOVE it! My oldest is eight, then six, three and a one-year-old baby. I’m a proud SAHM (stay-at-home-mama), but you won’t hear me talking too much about my parenting life and my kids on the show or our social media. I’ll definitely open up and share a little, but I really like to keep that part of my life a little more private. I want my kids to be proud of their identity, especially as young Muslims. So, doing the podcast helps me be a better mama because it makes me feel proud to be a Muslim and I feel more connected to the ummah (community). This dunya (worldly life) has so many distractions, so this is kind of my thing that keeps me in the zone, you know?
Often it sounds like you and Nicole are just having a good conversation on the podcast, like a good gabfest between friends. How much of it is scripted versus unscripted?
That is exactly what it is! Nothing is ever scripted. The only things we read-off are reviews and guest bios on the show, and everything else is freestyle. If it’s an interview, we will send over some questions, but we always want it to sound natural. So, we really do have a good gabfest! Sometimes, I’ll write a quick intro on my phone or some talking points right before we hit record to give myself some hype and direction. Thank goodness Nicole is so patient with me, LOL!
Sometimes I’ll start to word vomit or lose thought, and since she’s behind the computer and software, she’ll put her secret sauce on it. She’s got great speaking experience under her belt and helps me out when I’m stuck. True partnership and sisterhood right here! Girl, I don’t even want to hear myself when we first started! I sounded like a nervous robot, but I’m way more comfortable now!
Let’s talk about your hijab journey a little bit – how long did it take you to come upon the style and type of hijab that you really liked? Do you have a particular style/material you gravitate towards?
I started wearing hijab pretty soon upon embracing Islam. I did not know what in the world I was doing then. All I remember is feeling stuck between two worlds and not understanding how to translate my style from pre-Islam to being a Muslim. I think I’m always still discovering what that looks like, but I do feel more comfortable now than ever with hijab. Alhamdulilah! Over time I just felt more confident, and I embraced the fact that I wear hijab and that’s just part of who I am!
(Monica is wearing our Viscose Hijab in Citrine in this photo.
Some staples in my hijab wardrobe are Elif Kavakcis design called “comfi-jab” that I wear every single time I exercise or swim. It’s fantastic! In our interview with Melanie, she hinted at a sports design coming out soon, and I’m excited to see that, too!
We know you’re a lover of our viscose hijabs! What is it about this particular hijab, this material, that does it for you?
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m realllllllyyyyyyy obsessed with Haute Hijabs in viscose. I style it the same way every day. It’s super easy, and it just stuck with me! No one else is as addicted as I am, I’m sure of it! Viscose has just the right thickness, length, drape, ommggg girl! It just checks all the boxes for me! I will wear other materials sometimes though. I do own and enjoy some chiffons, georgettes and jerseys, but viscose is forever my jam!
Are there any particular colors or color palates you like?
The blush color is my all-time favorite! I love nude/natural colors, and some of my other favorites are sand and cocoa. But, I also love to mix fun color patterns like ultra violet with a bright orange blouse! I love bright colors – that’s just part of being Latina!
Why is wearing hijab important to you?
Hijab is an outer reflection of an inner commitment that I made for myself to be a God-conscious person. I say this every single time someone asks me about my hijab. I used to get asked so much by my family and friends in the beginning that one day I sat down and came up with a response. Ten years later, and I’m still saying this, because it’s still true. When I put on my hijab every day, I am reminded of the choice I made to lead a lifestyle for Allah!