Hijab-wearing Muslim Americans get haircuts in basements, closets, and restrooms. One salon desires to vary that.

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Hijab-wearing Muslim Americans get haircuts in basements, closets, and restrooms. One salon desires to vary that.

Every girl appears to have a haircut horror story.

Muslim-American ladies have ducked into salon backrooms, closets and basements to get their hair styled. One girl remembers hiding behind a bit of fabric draped over a doorway. Another recounts a haircut in a restroom. Others describe gut-twisting moments when unusual males walked in and noticed their naked heads anyway.

Everyone remembers the disgrace and anger.

Shamso Ahmed is aware of the sensation – and he or she is set to make a change. Ahmed, who wears a hijab, opened a women-only salon final month designed for Muslim ladies whose spiritual beliefs embody not exposing their hair in entrance of males who’re strangers.

“I really want to make a difference in people’s lives by creating a place where women feel comfortable, safe,” stated Ahmed, 34. “With this space, I can guarantee that there’s not going to be guys that walk in, so women will have the privacy they are looking for.”

Men aren’t allowed in Shamso Hair Studio and Spa, a L-shaped magnificence parlor in Boston’s South End. The workers are all feminine; the home windows are frosted to stop passersby seeing inside; and prospects should punch a code right into a particular lock to enter.

Shamso provides haircuts, manicures, pedicures and massages, in addition to lesser-known companies comparable to henna physique artwork and hijab wraps.

Ahmed’s store is one among only a few women-only hair salons nationwide, in line with Elisabeth Becker, a postdoctoral fellow on the University of Virginia who researches city Muslim communities. Becker stated she is aware of of only one different: Le’Jemalik Salon in New York City. Huda Quhshi, 39, who based Le’Jemalik Salon in early 2017, stated that hijab-wearing ladies drive two or three hours to get their hair finished at her salon.

Becker stated the demand amongst Muslim-Americans for women-only spa companies far exceeds the provision. As of 2017, there have been 3.45 million Muslims dwelling within the United States, in line with the Pew Research Center. Of these, roughly four in 10 ladies put on the hijab.

“[It’s a] huge, almost fully unserved population,” Becker stated.

Hadia Mubarak, a hijab-wearing assistant professor at Guilford College who researches gender in Islam, stated it’s a widespread false impression that observant Muslim ladies don’t must do their hair as a result of it stays lined in public. Hijab-wearing ladies spend numerous time at dwelling with their heads uncovered, she stated. Women additionally search locations the place they will take away their hijabs – Mubarak stated she favors all-female yoga courses for that reason – and generally attend particular household occasions comparable to weddings and engagement events with their heads naked and their hair styled.

“Muslim women who cover will at some point in their life need to go to a salon,” Mubarak stated. “The Muslim women I know, some of them go to a salon on a regular basis – some of them every two weeks!”

Massachusetts’s gender discrimination legislation prohibits all-male or all-female areas in some contexts, comparable to in public transportation, however non-public companies have been allowed to cater solely to ladies. Women-only gyms, for instance, are particularly allowed below the legislation.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, a Democrat, stated he could be attending the salon’s ribbon-cutting later this month. “We’re proud that Shamso has chosen to open her salon in Boston,” he stated in an announcement.

Ahmed stated she desires to open salons in at the least 5 extra states. For now, although, she is reveling within the achievement of a dream she has pursued since age 12.

Ahmed and her household emigrated to the United States when she was 10 to flee civil conflict in Somalia. She grew up idolizing her mom and the prophet Muhammad’s spouse Khadija, each of whom pursued careers in enterprise – her mom because the proprietor of a espresso store, restaurant and grocery retailer in Somalia, and Khadija as a service provider. Ahmed vowed she would change into a enterprise government and open a salon.

“I would always tell my mother, ‘Mom, I’m going to be my own boss when I grow up,’ ” Ahmed stated. “I said, ‘Mom, I want to open a salon, and it’s going to be a spa, and it’s going to have massage, facial, all these amazing services.’ ”

Her mom handed Ahmed pen and paper and advised her to “just draw it, get it out.” Ahmed traced dozens of various variations of her fantasy, including extra sq. footage or a brand new service each week.

At Northeastern University, she majored in accounting and finance. After working in a automotive dealership, she based a enterprise in 2011, the International Translation Company, that gives interpreters for immigrants and non-English audio system.

She by no means forgot her dream. In her spare time, Ahmed earned a license in cosmetology. On weekends, she labored as a hairstylist.

Two years in the past, Ahmed determined it was time. She dipped into her financial savings – she stated the associated fee bumped into “six figures” – and plunged into negotiations with the town of Boston and contractors.

She obtained particular permission for the frosted home windows. She picked out the sunshine grey wallpaper, the plush blue chairs, the waterfall by the entrance door, the chandeliers.

Since the salon’s doorways opened in late February, Boston ladies are shortly turning into followers. “That’s been a challenge for me, to find a place to get my hair cut or do any services – I do it when I travel to Lebanon,” stated E’atimad Rizk, who has lived in Boston for nearly 20 years. “Here, you go to a salon and ask them, ‘Can somebody cut my hair in a room?’ ‘Oh, we don’t have a room.’ ”

Shamso Hair Studio, with its seven hairdressing stations, has been flooded with way more requests for bookings than it could fill. Ahmed stated she awoke the day after the opening to 1,700 Facebook messages – from ladies who by no means need one other haircut horror story once more

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