Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Being your own boss, working for yourself? Not having someone always telling you “Do this, do that?” Sounds amazing, right? Here’s the story of one Muslim sister who did just that, but let us warn you, business ownership is hard work!
When Palestinian designer Dana Al Taji began to wear the abaya, she felt restricted by the options. She believes that you can be fully covered in Islamic dress and still stand out fashionably (we’re with you one hundred percent, sister!) This is when Dana decided to help change the fashion world as well as the way people think about Arab women.
Photos Courtesy: Layal
While staying home to care for her family, Dana enrolled in online fashion courses and began tailoring her own designs. She found that she could design garments that were beautiful and flattering, while still adhering to her modest Islamic principles. Starting her business in 2007, Dana’s hope was to modernize abayas so that women can feel comfortable wearing them. Her line ranges from simple, every day designs with buckles and ruffles, to cocktail outfits adorned with Swarovski crystals. Fancy!
Dana is now the proud owner of Layal, a boutique based in Cairo, where she sells modest fashion designs, handbags and accessories. It hasn’t all been easy though. Dana admits in an interview with Marie Claire that working as a woman Muslim business owner in the Middle East does have its challenges. “It’s not a Middle Eastern thing though,” she says, but a “women everywhere thing.” “I think women have more to prove than men,” she says. “Is it easier for men? I’m not sure, but I do know some mentalities would rather listen to a man than a woman.” She says that contrary to popular belief, Muslim women are not oppressed. “The way we’re covered is a matter of choice, which comes from either culture or religion or your beliefs.” The Arab woman “is not sitting at home just raising the kids. She has ambition. There’s nothing wrong with raising kids, sitting at home, but we can do more than that. We can juggle.”
Photos Courtesy: Layal
We fully support empowerment and entrepreneurship, especially when it comes to our Muslim sisters! Dana’s story proves our point perfectly; if you have dreams and ambitions, go out there and make them a reality.