Businesses begin with an idea, but also a motive. At Asiya
, the idea is to provide sports hijabs that are culturally appropriate, yet comfortable and flexible enough to stay in place while young Muslim girls play sports. The motive is to encourage confidence and community in a segment of the population that’s been hesitant to participate.
Founded by Fatimah Hussein and Jamie Glover, Asiya’s mission is to use sports to inspire self-confidence and leadership skills that will carry into adult life. As a whole, Muslim girls are about 50 percent less likely to participate in sports than their peers in other religions. Asiya hopes to reverse that trend, starting with the uniform.
Muslim garments emphasize modesty while sacrificing the flexibility and comfort needed in athletics. Asiya’s active wear is designed to bridge the gap. It respects traditional norms but modifies the style and material to make more breathable clothing. The company is launching with three sports hijabs, all designed by local Muslim women. The response has exceeded expectation.
The company’s crowdfunding campaign closed at 152 percent of its goal, with orders and press from all over the world. Other sports hijabs are made in foreign countries and are less comfortable, Hussein explains. Asiya’s products are designed by women who wear them and understand the needs and feel.
The hijabs will be manufactured locally. “Our mission was always to be made in Minnesota,” she says, even before the funding campaign took off. Materials cost more locally, but making the hijabs at home decreases the cost of shipping and ensures ethical labor practices, Hussein says.
Asiya is currently producing its first run of hijabs, which are currently sold online. Hussein says swimwear and casual active wear like yoga pants and longer tunic shirts are on the horizon: clothes that any modest woman will want to wear, whether she’s a practicing Muslim or of another faith. She sees potential markets in college and university bookstores.
Ultimately, Asiya’s garments are about comfort, modesty and safety, but also strong. “I think a lot of girls are not playing sports because the encouragement is not there from a young age,” Hussein says, summarizing her goal for the business. “Now there is a product to make sure these girls can play just like any girl.”
She’s already received feedback from the local community who have tested her product. “The girls say they feel very confident: that it has made them play more fairly.”
That’s exactly the message Hussein wants to hear. As Asiya grows in the next year, Hussein plans to enlist brand ambassadors to spread that word worldwide. It’s not strictly a product that Asiya is selling, it is the idea that, with confidence, young girls can become leaders.