Melanie is the Co-Founder and CEO of Haute Hijab. As a former civil rights attorney, she brings her passion for social justice to the fashion industry as she sets out to celebrate and empower hijab-wearing woman by designing premium, innovative products that support every women’s unique style.
In case you missed it, watch our Instagram live with Melanie on IGTV.
Miniluxe: What does “Take the Lead” mean to you?
Melanie: It means taking control of your life and exactly what you want out of it. It’s the example you lead for others to do the same.
MiniLuxe: What does “Create Change” mean to you?
Melanie: It reminds me of the Ghandi quote – “Create the change you want to see in the world.”
MiniLuxe: Tell us your story – what brought you to where you are today?
Melanie: I knew in high school I wanted to be a lawyer. I was on a fast track to law school and graduated with my J.D. at the age of 23. I started my company Haute Hijab with my husband shortly after getting married and juggled both careers for six years before ultimately quitting my legal job, moving to NYC and focusing on my company full-time.
MiniLuxe: What inspired you and who or what motivated you along the way?
Melanie: Definitely my parents. For them to leave behind everything they ever knew to come to a new country to make a better life for themselves and their future children requires a level of strength, resilience and tenacity I will never know.
MiniLuxe: Describe a day in the life of Melanie…
Melanie: Everyday is different, which ultimately is a great thing. I know that I get bored with the mundane. I wear a lot of hats as CEO and I’m also the face of the brand so some days I’m shooting outside with a fab ‘fit and other days I’m preparing for my board meetings with investors. Everyday, however, I’m in constant communication with my team.
MiniLuxe: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and how did you put it into action?
Melanie: Oh man, so many gems at different times when I needed them most. I think the one that I put into action the most is, ‘Keep it Light and Keep it Moving.’ I keep it light in every aspect I can and try not to overthink things because at the end of the day, it’s usually not that serious.
MiniLuxe: What was the most challenging thing in your career that you’ve overcome? How did you cope and navigate through it and what has that experience taught you?
Melanie: Letting go or furloughing nearly half our team when Covid-19 hit. Something you’re never prepared for as an entrepreneur is letting go of those you grow incredibly close to and work with day out and day in. We’re a very close-knit team so it was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my career. It was incredibly difficult, there’s no way around it, and I’d like to say that it taught me that I shouldn’t get as close to my team as I did, but that’s just not the person I am. That’s what makes us so special – it’s just part of the game and I have to accept that.
MiniLuxe: What keeps you grounded? How do you incorporate this into your routine?
Melanie: Definitely my faith. Knowing that none of my success has come from me, rather from God. My friends and family keep me grounded as well. I’m from Detroit, we’re simple, humble people and we don’t tolerate arrogance.
MiniLuxe: Who do you most admire and why?
Melanie: I admire people who know precisely who they are and don’t sit around and wait for anyone to give them what they want.
MiniLuxe: Share a time you took a big risk to move yourself forward. How did you decide to make that move?
Melanie: Definitely when I quit my legal job to move to NYC and focus on my business full-time. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and the most frightening thing I’ve done. We didn’t know if we’d make it one year in NYC. Ultimately I prayed on it and saw the doors open for me to make the move and knew this was the path God was leading me to.
MiniLuxe: What role have mentors played in your life?
Melanie: I learn a lot by example so even if I don’t have a physical mentor in my life, I learn so much from others who I know and don’t know that I implement in my life where relevant. I listen to a ton of podcasts from different entrepreneurs who have no idea they are my pseudo-mentors.
MiniLuxe: Do you have a favorite quote? What does this “do” for you?
Melanie: “Everything happens for a reason.” It reminds me not to sweat the small stuff cause everything – the good and the bad – is happening for some reason I may not be aware of.
MiniLuxe: What would you tell your younger (perhaps more naïve) self?
Melanie: That not everyone is going to like you and you need to be ok with that.
MiniLuxe: Representation matters. What advice would you give to women when they don’t see representation in their careers or sphere of influence?
Melanie: To be the representation they want to see.
MiniLuxe: If you could have one wish, what would it be?
Melanie: Racial justice and equity.
MiniLuxe: What’s your superpower? Put another way, your hidden talent?
Melanie: My superpower is definitely people. Connecting with people, understanding them, getting to the core of someone. I thrive on meaningful human connection.
MiniLuxe: Who’s the first person you call when you get good news?
Melanie: Depends on the news! Probably my husband or best friend.
MiniLuxe: If you were going to host an un-socially distanced dinner party – in theory – who would you invite? Why?
Melanie: Dave Chappelle. Interesting conversation and some laughs? I’m in.
MiniLuxe: What’s brought you the most joy during these last few months?
Melanie: Running around the streets of NYC in the middle of the night.
MiniLuxe: Most played song on your Spotify list/what would your theme song be?
Melanie: Most played song: F2020 haha Theme song: Butterfly by Mariah Carey
MiniLuxe: Favorite animal?
MiniLuxe: Favorite color?
MiniLuxe: Favorite movie?
MiniLuxe: Favorite book?
Melanie: The Alchemist