Fatimah Hussein on Championing Muslim Athletes

Fatimah Hussein is championing the physical activities of girls and women with her company, Asiya Modest Active Wear.

Hussein started her line of hijabs, which use breathable, sweat-wicking fabric and will stay on during a basketball game, for example, when she noticed girls and young women in her Minneapolis community, many of whom were from East Africa, weren’t participating in sports. If they were, these girls wouldn’t invite their parents to watch them play. 

“That’s not a reason you should lose your culture or your religion,” Hussein says. “With the help of the girls, we started solving the issue. We found that the number one barrier was clothes. So they designed their first uniform.”

Although Hussein, a Hijabi Somali social worker, didn’t set out to create a business, the demand for the product was great. When visiting basketball teams arrived at the Minneapolis indoor gym reserved for Hussein’s nonprofit Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports, the teams’ coaches or players’ parents would purchase active hijabs. 

Asiya sells three types of active hijabs with varying coverage — Lite, which covers the head; Sport, which covers the head and neck, and is the company’s bestseller; and Fit, which covers the head, neck, shoulders and chest. They come in four to five colors, depending on the style, and cost $40. There is also a limited-edition Fit hijab with a diamond print.

The company also produces custom hijabs for sports teams and organizations that cost $45 each, with a minimum purchase of 12 or more. The customization aspect makes up about 30% of the business, Hussein says. The company is also in the process of developing a hijab for swimming, which it expects to release by the end of the summer.

The hijabs are sold online and in some local stores, Hussein says. Asiya is on track to hit its 2018 revenue goal of $500,000, she says. It also offers an option for customers to sponsor an athlete for $35, and values collaboration with nonprofits.

“This is a social impact. We believe that our product is changing young girls’ lives, and we don't want money to be a barrier,” Hussein says. “Any girl who wants to play sports and who doesn't have a sports hijab, we always donate. Right now we have a big partnership with Girls on the Run to get girls to be more physically active. Anything that involves girls to be active is something we’re passionate about.”

- Amanda Eisenberg / She Spends Issue 54

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