Amazon's Brooklyn Park facility has partnered with the Somali-owned Henna and Hijabs in Minneapolis to design hijab uniforms that are safe and culturally appropriate for its female Muslim warehouse employees.
Eventually, the hijabs will be made available to Amazon facilities across the country, officials said.
The new hijabs, which have a printed SMN1 logo that signifies the Brooklyn Park fulfillment center and distribution site, were modeled onsite Wednesday before community members and staffers attended a launch reception catered by Afro Deli.
This week, only 30 scarves were distributed to workers. But hundreds more were requested and are on order, Amazon spokeswoman Kara Hille said during an interview Friday.
Amazon's hijab project has been in the works for about a year and a half, she said.
There are several hundred employees at Amazon's Brooklyn Park facility and nearly half are East African, many being women who wear hijabs, said site leader Michael Solovy.
While the company offered workers branded hats, safety vests and shoes, Solovy heard from associates that they wanted an option that was culturally relevant and inclusive to all Muslim staffers.
So he called Hilal Ibrahim, founder of Henna and Hijabs. Her Minneapolis company gained attention in 2019 for making medical-grade hijabs for Health Partners and again in 2021 when it made modest but fashionable hijabs for 16 Nordstrom department stores, including the one at Mall of America.
"We are excited to launch them," Solovy said. "I think it's great for the associates and our community."
While the Brooklyn Park Amazon had the idea, it has spread to the company's Detroit facilities and will soon be made available to other Amazon warehouse employees around the country, Solovy and Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim is hiring additional staff and expects to be making thousands of the Amazon garments by early next year, she said.
Amazon's effort is one of the latest inclusive work-related uniform offerings for East African or Muslim workers in the Twin Cities. In addition to Ibrahim's work with Nordstrom and Health Partners, other firms are broadening workplace wear option.
Two years ago, respiratory therapists Yasmin Samatar and Firaoli launched Hijab on the Go, a disposable hijab for Muslim workers who constantly needed to change their outfits to protect themselves and patients during the pandemic.
The offering is the latest effort companies are embracing as they seek to become more diverse and inclusive.