See more of the story

High school graduation was approaching when Hilal Ibrahim first thought about making her own hijabs.

"I couldn't find a high quality simple scarf for graduation," said Ibrahim, 24, of Minnetonka. "It wasn't until after graduation [that] I really sat down and said, 'You know what? I think I can make hijabs, I think I can make what's missing.' "

The need to do so only intensified for Ibrahim while volunteering at St. Louis Park's Methodist Hospital, where she saw a market for both employees and patients.

If a patient was to vomit on a health-care employee's hijab, for example, there wouldn't be anything else for her to wear but a hospital blanket, said Ibrahim. This was a common occurrence in the emergency room where she worked as a phlebotomist before becoming the full-time CEO of her company, Henna and Hijabs. Her hijabs are now sold in the Methodist gift shop where Ibrahim first volunteered at age 14.

"Having that accessibility piece is huge," Ibrahim said. "Many of our employees can come down and purchase a hijab and it's right there," Ibrahim said.

Her line, which launched in November 2019, is different from traditional hijabs that are made of chiffon or silk, she said.

"Our line is made from a durable jersey," she said, noting that the lightweight material is more breathable and efficient for the work environment.

The multipurpose scarf fulfills a need for Muslim women, other conservative dressers and those looking to wear it for style, she said.

"We've had nurses at other hospitals commute just to access this hijab," Ibrahim said. "Our organization extends all the way to Wisconsin [and] we've had a lot of employees out of the Wisconsin clinics and hospitals requesting this as well."

The women-led company sources most of its materials within Minnesota and the United States, and hijabs are tagged and stitched in the Twin Cities. Ibrahim said sustainability is important to Henna and Hijabs. Most of their branding, including business cards, bags and tissue paper, is recyclable.

Prices range from $12.99 to $29.99. All proceeds from hijabs sold in the giftshop benefit hospital programs and educational scholarships.

The Methodist partnership is believed to be the first in the nation to partner with a hijab company and make the scarves accessible to patients and staff, said hospital president Jennifer Myster.

"We noticed that we weren't meeting the needs of our patients of diverse backgrounds and different religions, and this was one important way we felt like we could do that," Myster said.

"If there's a patient that comes in in labor, and something happens to her hijab, we had no ability to replace that, other than a towel or a blanket."

The hijabs are currently sold out but will soon be restocked, said Ibrahim, who is looking forward to expanding beyond Methodist.

"We're just getting started, really. This is just the beginning for us," Ibrahim said.

Myster said Ibrahim is an inspiration. "I think it's young people like Hilal that have these big ideas that we are able to say yes to that are going to make our world a better place in the long run," Myster said.

"Sometimes, we get overwhelmed with all the bad happening in the world, but when you look at people like Hilal … it makes me feel confident in our future."

Ibrahim said she is proud to be behind something that simplifies life for other Muslim women, while also benefiting young people applying for the very same scholarship she earned from Methodist while a student at Hopkins High School in Minnetonka.

"I feel like it's almost a responsibility I've been given to help make this something that is available to patients," Ibrahim said.

"I'm very honored to do this."

Zoe Jackson • 612-673-7112 @zoemjack