During a hospital shift, Hilal Ibrahim noticed that a patient’s blood got on her uniform. The hospital stocked extra scrubs for her to change into, but because her hijab was also soiled, she had no choice but to go home.
This is just one incident in Ibrahim’s more than 10 years of volunteering and working at Park Nicollet Health Services, in her hometown of Minneapolis, that inspired her to design headscarves that meet the unique needs of the healthcare industry.
“I couldn’t find an appropriate headscarf that was affordable, that was sustainable, that was beautiful,” she told CNN. “No one was making it, so I had to make something.”
Ibrahim, 25, is also the founder and CEO of Henna and Hijabs. She started the fashion headwear company after graduating from high school.
While working in the hospital, she saw that when a patient or employee needed to replace their hijab, the only option was a white hospital blanket.
When Covid-19 hit, Ibrahim said that her hospital co-workers feared the hijabs they wore around patients could carry the virus to their families.
“In addition to the emotional and physical stress of everything that’s happening now, Muslim health care professionals have to think ‘am I going to bring this home with me?’”
Ibrahim said that she consulted with physicians and nurses on her design, and it is the size and cut that makes the most significant difference. In addition to being large enough to cover the area that v-cut collars on most scrubs left exposed, Ibrahim also made sure her scarves were not so large that they got in the way.
“We would have nurses in labor and delivery, where patients who are contracting would pull on the hijabs. I wanted to make sure the efficiency was appropriate, and also, the material holds so you don’t need a pin.”
Even the colors Ibrahim chose for the hijabs match the colors that many hospitals use for their uniforms, like navy blue and burgundy.
While Ibrahim designed the hijabs with Muslim women in mind, she did not want to exclude anyone from other backgrounds.
“We not only have a large Muslim base that purchase this particular product, but we also have people who are either patients in healthcare settings, cancer patients, Orthodox Jewish women, and Sikh patients who utilize this scarf.”
Since Henna and Hijabs launched this line last November, they have donated nearly 1,000 healthcare hijabs to Minnesota hospitals.
With orders coming in from across the country, Ibrahim said, “I am really humbled by the response and grateful for every opportunity.”