Cali Hijabi: An Inspiring, Bespoke Clothing Brand Redifining the AMERICAN Style

Cali Hijabi is a Riverside, California-based clothing brand ran by best friends and partners, Nadia Elshennawy and Nana Kalichava.  Founded in 2013, the company has created a niche in the modest clothing fashion industry with their ‘urban-inner-city-chic’ meets ‘modern elegance’ style. Their unique designs are overall inspired by current American culture. 

Born and raised in California, Nadia reverted to Islam in 2001 and like most reverts, struggled for a while to find her own style and way to express her Muslim identity.  

“As a new Muslim, I found it natural to want to dress modestly. However, I had no idea how I could represent myself as a Muslim, who is a modest woman, and the clearest representative of Islam by wearing modest clothes and hijab (or veil) at the same time, not lose my own identity and the essence of who I am and where I come from. I feel that one of the very beautiful aspects of Islam is the melting pot of cultures and how it is comprised of every people – color, race, culture – throughout the world. I decided to take some classic styles worn by Muslim women for centuries, and redesign them with my own style preferences that I could feel confident wearing, be proud to represent, and at the same time feel feminine while practicing modesty.  Almost immediately, I received support and interest from friends and family and ultimately my local, as well as my online network of women who could identify with the designs I was creating and wearing. It felt really great to hit a chord with people and give them a piece of clothing to wear as a ‘cover’ or ‘hijab’ with my own inspiration behind it.”

Nadia further explains that the fact that she’s a female Muslim entrepreneur in the fashion industry here in the U.S. has not been difficult or negative by any means. She believes that, 

“Americans have an appreciation for hard work and creativity, especially because the American culture in itself is a very diverse one. Our goal as the designers and makers of Cali Hijabi is to be able to see an article of clothing worn by a Muslim woman in a way that almost any American girl can identify with – be it the colors, fit, cut, how it is styled, the patterns used, or if it is reminiscent of a certain American era. We want to bring out the ‘Cali Hijabi’ that we know lives within everyone. This is the concept and mindset we are in when making clothes that are modest, fun and irresistible! We really want to capture the ‘American style’ in our own way and make it available for everyone – Muslim or non-Muslim.”

“And I found the most support from my best friend, who happens to be Christian! It’s an amazing way to show the love you have, which in my opinion is the reason why Nana and I have such an exemplary partnership. I remember her saying, ‘Girl, you want to be covered and feel good, I got you!’ And it’s been that way ever since,” explains Nadia.

When asked about this major life transition that her best friend is undergoing, Nana explained that,

“It never crossed my mind that I can’t be involved because she is Muslim and I am Christian. To me that’s not important and would never matter. What mattered at that moment is that my [best] friend, whom I love like a sister, was going through a struggle and I needed to help her fix that! We never thought of it as more than that. We were just designing pieces that made sense to her and it just so happened that people loved them! So much so that now, here we are with a line of clothes for women who have the same tastes as Nadia and myself. Of course, to some it will seem odd that a Christian woman would help and be encouraging to help her Muslim friend find ways to cover up and be modest. In that same thought, hopefully people will see the beauty and be inspired. It’s the ultimate ‘love thy neighbor’ belief in Christianity with no reservations. We work very hard and spend many endless nights with seven kids between the two of us, but we enjoy it and so do they. Alhamdulilah!” says Nana.

Nadia tells us,

“Being an American Muslim entrepreneur during these times feels like we’re making a mark; our own mark in history. America is a resilient country. Being a positive contribution to society as a Muslim, or as any other denomination, is profound during these times when Muslims have very obvious oppositions. It speaks volumes as far as being able to incorporate a religious lifestyle within a culture that is, in my opinion, in need of redefining. It’s always changing and evolving. There is an undeniable reason why so many people migrate here. It’s the ‘land of opportunity’ and thrives on freedom of expression. Islam fits in beautifully because our choices to express ourselves through our apparel alone shows the masses just how creative and individual we really are. Just ‘be’ the living proof and ‘be’ a part of history in an inspirational and positive way. Interpret and share your lifestyle proudly; as a modest American. And when you follow your beliefs and your values, you may just inspire someone else to do the same.”

Nana (left) & Nadia (right)

Nana (left) & Nadia (right)



Originally posted 2016-05-29 23:43:16.

Muslim Mommy USA

Muslim Mommy USA is a Modern Parenting lifestyle blog for Muslim families living in the West.

April 4, 2017