Skip to main content
Home » Diversity in Business » Starting a Company Begins With a Clear Vision
Diversity in Business

Starting a Company Begins With a Clear Vision

Photo: Courtesy of Melanie Elturk/Instagram

Melanie Elturk was enjoying success as an attorney when she decided to take the plunge and start her own company. It proved to be the right move.

“My husband and I started the business in 2010 in Chicago, which is where he’s from,” explained Elturk, who launched Haute Hijab a few months after getting married. “It came out of this real, tangible need in our community.”

Believing Muslim women should feel connected to the hijab, Elturk’s goal was to normalize the head covering and give women confidence to wear it.

Recognizing the demand

For many Muslim women in the United States, wearing hijabs is a way of life, but obtaining them has often been difficult.

“We’d have to go overseas or use makeshift neck scarves from department stores,” said the Detroit native, adding that substitutes were usually the wrong size and material, and couldn’t be washed regularly.

“It was such a poor experience,” Elturk said. “I knew I wasn’t alone in having this really difficult time. Wearing a hijab is hard enough, so the product itself should be easy.”

Making the commitment 

With busy careers, plus a move to Dubai, creating a brand often meant putting things on hold. In 2016, however, Elturk and her partner quit their jobs, moved to New York, and decided to focus on hijab apparel full-time. In addition to raising capital and building a team, they opened an office.

“That’s when we kicked things into high gear,” said Elturk, who prayed for guidance as to how she could best make an impact as a minority business owner. 

Facing the obstacles

Though passionate about her business, Elturk admitted, “We’re not a sock company, where you can sell to every American. It’s a bit more difficult, in terms of customer acquisition. 

“I’ve also felt really frustrated with investors who just don’t get it. They look for a pattern of things they know have worked, and we are so far from that, whether it’s me as the CEO, the product itself, the community, or our faith or values.”

Advice to others

Elturk says whether struggling or just getting started, your intentions should be defined.

“Why are you doing this? What are you trying to achieve? If any of those things have to do with money or fame, I would re-evaluate and go back to the drawing board,” she said, “because those things don’t sustain you.

“The only thing that separates a successful entrepreneur from an unsuccessful one is that the successful one never quits. They keep going, and the only way to do that is to have a purpose that’s meaningful.”

Next article