A group of Pittsburgh-based moms are hoping to make the world a little more inclusive and diverse — one doll-sized headscarf at a time.
On Saturday, the moms launched Hello Hijab, an online store that sells miniature hijabs. A hijab is a traditional headscarf that some Muslim women wear to cover their hair and neck in public. These mini versions are sized so that they can fit Barbies and other popular dolls.
“We realized our Muslim friends were not represented in dolls,” Hello Hijab founders Kristen Michaels and Gisele Fetterman told TODAY. “We want our daughters to have diverse doll collections and realized Muslim dolls were not a part of the current options.”
The doll-sized headscarves (priced at $6) are made from actual hijabs and sewn by three Muslim seamstresses who are paid $15 an hour. Launched as the first initiative under Michaels and Fetterman’s nonprofit, For Good PGH, Hello Hijab will raise money for organizations that “protect and honor our multicultural communities.”
Michaels and Fetterman, along with their partner Safaa Bokhari, hope that the Hello Hijab initiative will not only help to educate kids on the hijab, but also give Muslim girls the chance to dress their dolls in a way that represents their culture.
“We’ve had a little girl say that she hopes people won’t think her mother and grandmother are weird because they will see the doll in a hijab, too,” they said.
In a video featured on Moneyish.com, little girls expressed their excitement to see a doll that looks like them and the women they know.
“I felt comfortable wearing a hijab here because if the doll’s wearing it I guess I can wear it too,” said 7-year-old Sana, who wears a hijab herself in the video.
“I think it’s a little bit funny that they have hijabs because I never saw [a doll] have hijabs,” 6-year-old Maryam says in the video as she plays with a doll outfitted in a Hello Hijab headscarf. “I know my mom wears a hijab and Muslims wear hijabs. It would be nice to have a Barbie doll hijab at school.”
Orders for the doll-sized head coverings streamed in from the moment the Hello Hijab store launched at midnight on Saturday.
“The response has been overwhelming and has come from as far as Egypt,” Michaels and Fetterman said. “Muslim women have thanked the three of us for this initiative and for including them … we are at about 50 (orders) so far.”
While the Hello Hijab initiative has been mostly met with praise and excitement, the moms say that they have received some negative feedback as well, mostly in the form of nasty emails. However, the women have not let the comments affect their mission.
“We have received plenty [of negative comments],” they said. “We’ve responded the only way we can — with respect.”
Michaels and Fetterman said that getting people to respect one another and appreciate diversity are some of the goals of the initiative and the nonprofit.
“We want this generation to be kinder and more accepting of our differences,” they said. “Through Hello Hijab, we want our Muslim friends and neighbors to know we are so happy they are here and that we are all better because they’re here.”
Hello Hijab is just the first in what Michaels and Fetterman hope will be a long line of For Good PGH initiatives that celebrate diversity.
“We look forward to putting out more effective and thought-provoking initiatives that highlight the value in people, from all walks of life.”