23-year-old Marwa Atik is the co-founder and head designer of Vela Scarves based in Los Angeles. Marwa, who is originally of Syrian heritage, has a natural flair for fashion and is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles in 2009. Shortly after graduating, she began her career in fashion.
Marwa’s original style hijabs have become so popular among both Muslim and Non-Muslim women, and it all started when she decided to put on one of her hijabs with a zipper trim, just to see whether people would either love it or hate. Of course, they loved it! Marwa now has a thriving business and is “at the helm of a social-media fueled fashion trend among Muslim -American hijabis.”
Atik works alongside her sister, Tasneem Atik Sabri, 29, and together they work from a studio in downtown Los Angeles. They are currently putting all their creativity into the business which operates on a full-time basis. The two sisters are doing a great job and have even come up with hashtags like #chichijab and #hijabfashion, and Marwa has also featured in a viral video called Mipsterz which has become increasingly popular.
Marwa loves shopping but admits that it can be a challenge to dress modestly while still being fashionable. She says that there have been many times when she visits clothing stores and finds an item which she likes, with the “perfect drape and the perfect fabric” that she’s looking for, but it’s not long-sleeved.
At the moment she is only designing hijabs, but pretty soon we can expect to see a street-wear range from Marwa. She says she intends to include long shirts reaching mid-thigh with long sleeves to combine with some fashionable outfits for hijabi women to wear with style.
Vela’s scarves have a unique trademark. The scarves are wrapped around the neck and tied a specific way in a knot. She uses the style to show all the elements of the scarf design. She has created a trend in hijab fashion and even posts videos on YouTube. Her scarves are not only worn uniquely but have some interesting overlays, such as ruffles, a variety of fabrics, lace and zippers, which make for some stunning designs.
She tries to come up with a new design and color every so often, just to keep up with the current fashion scene. Her scarves are so versatile, and her clients identify with the brand, as Marwa is a “hijabi girl who is designing for other hijabi girls.”
Marwa feels that there is always a misconception that women who wear hijabs are oppressed. She says that this is not the case with her, and doesn’t identify herself as someone who is being attacked. She is just an American woman who is also a Muslim.
She wears her hijabs to dress modestly and wants people to see her for her personality, how she speaks, and who she is. Marwa says that the beauty of it is that one can still wear what you like with your hijab, as long as you “find your own modesty and you dress according to that.”