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Talking with Melanie about Being Named to Inc's Female Founders 100 List

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Posted on Oct 08, 2019
Dilshad Ali

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The story of Haute Hijab and how this company has grown to where it is today is one that has the hard work and dedication of CEO Melanie Elturk at its core. What started out as a clothing and hijab company out of Melanie and Ahmed’s home is now a thriving hijab brand that – in addition to creating and selling beautifully-designed hijabs – is building community and uplifting Muslim women in numerous ways. With the company approaching its 10th anniversary in 2020, it’s apropos that Melanie was recently honored by being named to Inc’s 2019 Female Founders 100 List.

Melanie Elturk in Haute Hijab's New York office

Inc’s second annual Female Founders 100 List honors influential, ambitious and diverse women who have transformed every major U.S. industry. “These women are building and leading innovative companies in a vast range of global industries, including tech, fashion, finance, fitness, consumer products, food and more,” according to the Haute Hijab press release. Melanie joins some powerhouse women on this list, including Serena Williams, Rihanna, Joanna Gaines, Alli Webb, Rebecca Minkoff and Eileen Fisher!

Under Melanie’s leadership, HH been excited to bring you several great collections over the past few years, including Luxury, Ultimate Underscarves and most recently, our Heritage Collection. We are now focused on an athletic hijab market, with nearly a year of research and development already under our proverbial belts. It’s an exciting time for Haute Hijab as our company continues to expand and design new hijabs for our customers! I caught up with Melanie to talk to her about the Female Founders List, what has been transformative about Haute Hijab’s work and how she plans to continue to elevate the hijab market.

There is a hefty group of women on that top 100 Female Founders list! Those who are on the list are there because their work has helped transform major industries. How has your work at Haute Hijab been transformative in the world of clothing and fashion?

First off, it's an incredible honor to be included in this list and at the same time it makes me so proud to have our category and community represented. For the first time, a brand is dedicated to tackling the entire hijab category and everything that entails. The fact that our brand hails from the U.S. is very special to me, being an American, because it puts us in the fortunate position of facilitating education and, hopefully, demystifying stereotypes as we normalize hijab in the mainstream and make it easier for Muslim women to wear hijab with confidence.

Haute Hijab has always strived to create top-notch hijabs and products that merge fabric technology with meticulous design. But one thing we don't talk enough about is a covered Muslim woman's aesthetic, how she feels in her hijab. What is it about the work you are doing with HH that speaks to that need?

How you feel in hijab is almost as important as the hijab itself. If you don't feel confident, if you don't feel beautiful, you won't love it. Worse yet, you may grow to resent it. Therefore, it's so important to focus on the basics  fabrics you love, styles that look good on you and colors that make you feel beautiful. This has been the entire thesis of our brand vision  provide high-quality hijabs and educate women on how to wear them in order to feel great. I can't stress this enough. You don't have to be fashion-forward to do this either. Every woman in hijab needs to find her special groove in hijab, and the goal at HH is to make it easy for any woman to achieve this!

You've talked on a number of occasions how HH is more than just creating beautiful hijabs that help Muslim women feel confident. It's about community and supporting and uplifting Muslim communities - what are you doing at HH in line with this brand pillar?

Absolutely! Our mission is two-fold. Provide high-quality, beautiful hijabs, and empower Muslim women through our community of women sharing their unique stories. We have so many incredible offline efforts to aid community building, like our Changemakers Tour (coming to a city near you ;), HH Summit coming spring 2020, masjid partnerships and event sponsorships across the country. We're also putting together an academic symposium in partnership with a New York university coming soon!

Lots of brilliant women on this founder's list! Who are you fan-girling over :)

Hehe oh man, Rebecca Minkoff for sure! What she's done with her brand is incredible. Also Joanna Gaines cause I love her and what she's built.

What's on the horizon for HH as it enters its 10th year? How do you plan on continuing to elevate the hijab market?

Ahh!!! I can't believe it's been almost 10 years! On the horizon is continuing our mission of providing every hijab a woman needs for every touchpoint in her life. Next up is our athletics line, hijab accessories and much more. We also have a new product we're putting together specifically for new hijabis that is *so* necessary and will hopefully make the process that much easier for women who are new to hijab.

We plan on continuing to elevate the hijab market by doing what we always do, innovating in the space and thinking about these products in a holistic way to enrich the lives of Muslim women.


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