Hi! Asalamu’alaikum sisters!
I am so excited to introduce It’s About M.E.’s first Muslimah of the Month (#MOTM)! She is none other than the beautiful and very relatable Nadia Elshennawy, founder of Cali Hijabi!
*cue round of applause here*
I really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know about her, her values, and her company further. And now I’m thrilled to be able to share her story with you ladies! Let’s have girl chat….
So, as I was saying, I was excited to feature Nadia…..why? Well, I first met her at Serai 2016 (that was my first time out to an Islamic event in California by myself) and she, along with some other sisters, made me feel very welcomed and at ease! I taught myself some time ago how to be comfortable going out alone, but naturally I still get a few jitters. As I began to mix and mingle with her and others I felt right at home, and oh so inspired!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Nadia Elshennawy. I was born and raised in the Bay Area in San Francisco, California . I am married with 5 wonderful kids and designing clothes is my passion. I reverted to Islam in 2001, Alhamdulilah, and it was the most amazing and fulfilling experience I have had in my entire life!
- What inspired you to create Cali Hijabi and how did you come up with the name?
Throughout my journey as a Muslimah I have grown, matured and refined myself in many ways, both inside and out. I think that’s something that many reverts can relate to. One of my “refining moments” was during Ramadan a few years ago. I began to feel a different level of understanding, readiness and excitement in wanting to dress more modestly each day. I struggled many, many days while some days were just perfect. So I took a closer look at what made those days “easier” and “perfect” and decided that I’d just duplicate it! LOL, that was much easier said than done. With a passion for design, naturally I decided to try and make the articles of clothing I felt made my “getting ready” easier and more comfortable. My best friend and I began sewing one item after another. We had tons of fun and, Alhamdulilah, it really blossomed into a brand that presents fun, exciting choices for the “modest conscious” woman! I want to make clothes that are appealing to everyone! So when that girl or woman is thinking about dressing modestly she can see herself rocking one of Cali Hijabi’s pieces. Why? Because there is just something about the style or color arrangement that speaks to her individuality. Hence, the name “Cali Hijabi”, it represents that “girl next door” meets “hijab”….. or what I really want to say is the “around the way girl”, lol, because this girl is expressive and has a story to tell. That’s who my brand represents.
- For those sisters transitioning into more modest clothing where should they start? What are some tips you can give them?
For any girl looking to transition into more modest clothing I say go for it! First of all, my sister-in-law once told me that each time she went shopping, before she stepped into the store she would say, “Bismillahi Rahman ir Rahim” (“In the name of Allah, most Gracious most Merciful”) and ask Allah to make it a successful trip and to make it easy for her, and Subhan’Allah, He never let her down. I always remembered those words when I felt difficulty. Maybe they will be of help to sisters out there as well.
- Have you received any negative criticism regarding your line? If so, how have you dealt with it?
Fortunately I have not received much negative criticism towards my brand. However, if I didn’t then that wouldn’t be reality. I think that a person can learn a lot from negative criticism… it’s all about how you define negativity. It can also be used as a learning opportunity…therefore, when it comes, you just deal with it, and move on! I keep looking forward and keep my attention drawn to opportunity and positivity, PERIOD!
- 10 years from now where do you want to see Cali Hijabi?
10 years from now I see Cali Hijabi as that first choice for all American girls/women that need that one modest piece of clothing to complete their look or to add to their confidence and newfound inspiration.
- What is your favorite item of clothing and why?
My favorite item is hands down a great jacket, coat, cardigan or kimono! It’s just that one piece that you can throw on and it pulls you together instantly. It’s all you need!
- You mentioned that you are a revert, what were you born practicing? How do you feel that has impacted you growing up?
I was born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness. I honestly feel like it gave me a good foundation and most important a realization of God. I learned how to pray and ask God for guidance. I developed a conscience and those are all healthy habits and characteristics. I wish more people today would continue to instill knowledge of God and prayer to children no matter what religion you are. It is important to know that God exists and that He is there for you. It’s a basic fundamental and essential part of our human experience.
- What compels you to continue practicing Islam?
My knowledge of Allah’s Tawheed, His “Oneness” is what compels me to continue practicing Islam. The realization of having direct contact with The Creator was profound to me as I became Muslim. It feels so perfect, like the way worship is intended to feel.
- How do you keep your faith from being stagnant?
By using prayer as a medication for everything I keep my faith from being stagnant. Taking advantage of idle time to make dhikr or dua’a for someone. By holding and loving my kids and family as well as praying for the safety of everyone in the world, those are ways that I hold on to my faith.
- When did you start wearing hijab and why?
I started dressing modestly in 2012, and I jumped in 100% head to toe! Over the years while trying to find ways of dressing that appeal to me I have struggled with the headscarf/hijab, but for the most part I am happy that I have come this far and I am open and excited for the direction I am headed, Insha’Allah.
- I always like to end with this question lol…What is an interesting fact about you that most people don’t know?
I speak Spanish and I’m not too shabby at Arabic either 😉 So don’t talk mess when you’re around me….. I HEAR EVERYTHING!!!!!!!! LOLOLOLOL…..
If you would like to see someone as one of the Muslimah’s of the Month (or Muslim owned business of the Month) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on how to be featured!