LAHAN is a local scarf and accessory business based in the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. Started and run by two university students, we asked them a few questions about how they started their business and how the experience has been so far.
E/N: for those who might not know, the use of the Islamic words “Alhamdulillah” and “Inshallah” are used to give thanks and praise to Allah.
Talk us through the history of the company. The beginnings of this Cape Town-based hijab shop.
LAHAN was founded in 2019 by Aneesah and Aqeelah. We started this business out of fulfilling our own needs and found that many other women had the same need as us.
We make scarfs that are quality and affordable, with the various colours we have it is easy to match any outfit with one of our scarfs. [We] are both University students that saw the need for scarves like ours and we went for it.
Our family and friends were very supportive when we started our business and we would not have been able to get where we are today without their guidance and help.
A highlight in our business was definitely getting recognized by customers and other vendors at expos and on social media platforms.
We still have a lot to learn but Alhamdulillah, we are happy with the progress we have made.
Where did the inspiration for the brand’s name come from?
When thinking of our brand’s name, we wanted the name to be unique and intrigue customers.
LAHAN is a combination of the co-owners names; Aqeelah and Aneesah. So, it’s the end of Aqeelah’s ‘LAH’ and the beginning of Aneesah’s name ‘AN’.
With so many hijab-focused businesses opening, how do you stay creative and unique?
A selling point of ours is that we constantly get in new colours and a wide variety of colours. Currently, we have over 60 shades of colours. There is literally a colour for every outfit.
Is there any particular type of hijab that is your personal favorite? Fabric or print or embellishment?
We are in love with premium chiffon and georgette material as it gives you an elegant look and drapes beautifully. The advantage of having these types of scarfs is that it is lightweight and non-slip.
What is your go-to hijab color? The one that just makes you stand out more than the rest?
My go-to hijab colour would definitely be green: green generally is my favourite colour.
When people say the colour you wear has an impact on your mood they are 100% correct. When I wear a green LAHAN scarf it makes me feel instantly happy.
When women buy a scarf, should they take the same time to consider how it suits them as an eyeshadow color or lipstick shade would?
Choosing a scarf colour that suits you should definitely be considered; however, it can be a rather daunting process. For this reason, at LAHAN we try our best to continuously broaden our shade range to help every woman find her perfect shade in a LAHAN scarf.
What changes have you gone through personally while operating your business?
Starting and operating a business has taught us so much, but something we had to learn from the very beginning was to trust ourselves and our ideas and to not be afraid of taking risks.
Had we been afraid, LAHAN might not even exist today but Alhamdulillah we took the leap of faith.
We have also had to change our mindsets regarding setbacks. Owning a business has taught us that it is not always going to be a walk in the park.
There will be challenges but it is our motivation and passion for why we started this venture, as well as our faith that our business will flourish, that will keep us going and striving to do better.
What were some of your lowest moments and your greatest achievements?
So far Alhamdulillah, we have not had any major ‘low’ moments. As for achievements, three of the greatest would have to be:
· Completing our first LAHAN scarfs. It was such a proud moment to have the finished product that so much hard work and perseverance was put into.
· The official launch of LAHAN was another proud moment and getting to share the occasion with family, friends and our first ever LAHAN customers was such a humbling experience.
· The opportunity to sell our scarfs in store, Alhamdulillah.
Let’s talk the scarves themselves, what goes into making a typical Lahan scarf?
At LAHAN, we pride ourselves in supporting and uplifting fellow local businesses. For this reason, the first step to completing a scarf is sourcing all fabrics used from local businesses.
As the owners of LAHAN, we source these fabrics ourselves, ensuring that they are quality yet affordable with a variety of colours, shades, and prints.
Once we have our fabric, each scarf is then cut to a specific length and width to suit any scarf style; from simple draping to turban styles.
The unfinished scarfs are then sent to a local seamstress for the final step of being sewn to perfection. Our label is then added to complete the LAHAN scarf.
Were you daunted to start this venture?
It is safe to say that we were nervous to start our business as we did not know what to expect.
But as soon as we pitched the idea to our families and after receiving their support and words of advice, our new venture quickly went from nerve-wracking to the most exciting experience Alhamdulillah.
For girls who are considering wearing the hijab for the first time, what advice would you give them?
To our sisters in Islam who are considering wearing hijab for the first time: we know that it could be a difficult decision and even more difficult to stick to, but just the fact that you are considering it is an accomplishment in itself. Our advice to you is 4-fold:
· Wear your hijab for the sake of Allah (swt) alone
Your intention to wear hijab should be solely for the sake of Allah (swt). Take the first step and He will take care of the rest
· Have faith in Allah (swt)
No matter what anyone says or what others may think, always remember that your decision to wear hijab is only between you and your creator.
As long as you are striving to be closer to Allah (SWT) and your Deen (E/N: faith), no one else’s opinion matters
· Do not be too hard on yourself
It is okay to stumble along the way, but always remind yourself of your intention and why you are doing it. Continuously ask Allah (swt) to strengthen you, He is your fiercest protector and your biggest supporter, Alhamdulillah
· Find what works for you
There are so many ways to make hijab and dressing modestly fashionable. Find a style of hijab that you feel comfortable with and start there.
What are some of your future plans for Lahan? Anything International?
At LAHAN, we encourage women empowerment through bold and beautiful scarfs. Because of this, we plan on having many collaborations with various amazing brands in the future.
We are also in the process of expanding our online store to strengthen our online community and eventually reach international waters: ensuring the growth of our LAHAN family, Inshallah