By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
Ethiopian native Sara Sheikh holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in cyber security, but her career revolves around modest fashion design.
Sheikh is a Muslim woman, and although modest clothing is most commonly associated with Islam, members of the Amish, Orthodox Judaism and Mormon religious groups also adhere to modest dress codes. Muslim women’s head coverings, or hijabs, vary by culture and can range from scarves to veils to full-length coverings, or burkas.
“We don’t show our arms, we don’t show our legs, whatever we wear is long sleeve and to the ankle… so shopping for a really stylish outfit that is also modest was really, really hard,” said Sheikh.
It was especially challenging for Sheikh to find formal dresses that fall under modest fashion. She was often forced to put on layers of other clothing under her dress to cover up.
Sheikh knew she was not the only Muslim woman who felt like she had to forfeit fashion in order to comply with her religious beliefs, so she leveraged her technology expertise to start online modest fashion company, Covered Bliss.
When it launched years ago, shoppers could only pick from a few scarfs in three different designs. Sheikh was fortunate to have a mother who already operated a fashion business and was able to look to her for guidance and inspiration. Her mother would even supply her with fabrics that she collected from her travels.
Today, Covered Bliss offers abayas, kaftans, scarves and swimsuits in a multitude of colors, patterns and designs. The fashion company also offers a range of modest formal and casual clothing.
When choosing pieces for her brand, Sheikh looks for three key elements in fabric and clothing: high quality, good fit and style. She believes the overall quality of her products sets Covered Bliss apart from its competitors.
“I know a lot of brands that sell similar items. They import those from either Turkey or China,” said Sheikh. “My stuff is mostly made here in the U.S., and the other stuff that I bring in from India and Dubai
] by specific manufacturers
] make sure the material and the work are high quality.”
In 2019, Covered Bliss’ clothing was showcased at both Paris Fashion Week and BET’s Fashion Show, which Sheikh regarded as one of her biggest entrepreneurial achievements.
Soon, Sheikh hopes to collaborate with high-end department stores, like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, to get Covered Bliss’ clothing on their shelves.
“Being a minority female, being able to graduate with an engineering degree and still being able to start my own successful business, I just want to be a role model not only for my children but for all the young girls out there,” said Sheikh.
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