A Virginia college student who launched a clothing company for Muslim women got a boost this summer from George Mason University, and has big plans for expansion.
GMU senior Sana Mahmood launched her company Veiled Beaut in spring 2016. This summer, she participated in her school's first Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator program, which helps students learn how to get businesses off the ground.
After the 22-year-old began to wear a hijab last year, she was frustrated to find a lack of affordable clothing that was both stylish and modest.
“If you go out into your mainstream outlets like Forever 21 or H&M, it’s really difficult to find clothing that isn’t see-through or doesn’t have slits” the information systems and operations management and marketing double major said Thursday, as the Eid al-Adha holiday began.
With the help of interns, Mahmood designs scarves, clothing and accessories for young women like herself.
"Young millennials who are in college don’t have $90 to spend on a dress,” she said. "When you’re an intern making $15 an hour, you can’t really afford a $40 hijab."
The scarves on her website start at $10.
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Mahmood got her start in fashion by selling hijabs and now has bigger goals. This includes a partnership with a private Islamic high school in Springfield, Virginia, which she said asked her to design modest, yet contemporary uniforms that girls will actually want to wear.
In addition to helping soothe pains that young Muslim women cope with while looking for clothes, Veiled Beaut prides itself on philanthropy.
"Growing up, my parents really emphasized the importance of giving back to the community," Mahmood said. "I wanted to be more than just another company selling products.”
In 2016, Mahmood traveled to Jordan with Helping Hand, a nonprofit that supports refugee orphans. Veiled Beaut donates 10 percent of its profits to the organization.
In honor of the Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, Veiled Beaut partnered with Mosaic, a Virginia organization that helps Syrian refugees who have resettled in the D.C. area. Together, they raised $1,500 and donated hijabs to local women.