ASU entrepreneur blends modesty with quality in new line of hijabs

Sotra Fashion encourages people of all faiths to "honor your beauty"

Differing from the mainstream beauty standards, Sotra Fashion is bringing attention to a more traditional way to celebrate a woman’s inner beauty through modesty. 

The founders of Sotra Fashion said they set out on one mission: to create hijabs with an emphasis on quality, tradition and style.

Sophia Collier, a junior majoring in technological entrepreneurship and management, said she started her own startup company making hijabs marketed for Islamic women in America.

“I was always very interested in learning more about the culture," Collier said.

Even though Collier is not Muslim, she said she observes some Muslim holidays, such as Ramadan.  

Collier said Sotra Fashion began as a self-funded company in June 2018 after she and Aia Albaddani, co-founder and CEO of Sotra Fashion, both noticed the lack of quality of headscarves sold in the U.S. compared to those from Saudi Arabia.

Albaddani said they chose the name of “Sotra” because it is the Arabic word for modesty.

“I found it hard to find good material in the U.S., but in the Middle East they have the right fabric and material,” Albaddani said. “I wanted to show people a more comfortable material because the hijabs from here are either too thick or silky and often slip off your head.”

All of Sotra's hijabs are made from imported fabrics from Saudi Arabia, such as Egyptian cotton, silk and lace. After receiving fabrics from Saudi Arabia, Albaddani said her mother helps make the hijabs, adding the finishing touches to make them more wearable and long-lasting.

“There’s a lot of scarves that you can buy at a corner store, but they’re not durable or fashionable,” Collier said.

While the hijabs are currently sold exclusively online, Albaddani said they would eventually like to open up their own store and sell more clothing options for Muslim women.

Albaddani said a portion of every hijab sold will be donated to Islamic Relief to help the crisis in Yemen.

“If people know that we’re helping, they’d also be willing to buy a hijab and help out,” Albaddani said.

Collier said Sotra Fashion’s motto, "honor your beauty with Sotra," is the primary message of the brand.

“We want girls to be able to cover themselves but still feel confident and beautiful,” Collier said.  “You can feel beautiful while still being modest, which is basically what our saying is.”

While many of the designs of the hijabs have religious-based meanings, anyone can wear these headscarves, Collier said.

“We welcome other people who aren’t Muslim and just want to dress more modestly,” Collier said.

Autumn Ayers, one of Sotra Fashion’s customers, said the motto of Sotra is what drew her to these specific hijabs.

“‘Honor your beauty with Sotra’ is a lovely way to think about dressing modestly and it has really enriched my wearing of the scarf,” Ayers said. “Thinking about that saying, it enriches my reverence and love for God through humility and modesty before Him in a way that wearing a scarf from a name brand store doesn’t.”

Ayers said she is not Muslim and is an Orthodox Christian, but wears a headscarf to church to feel more connected with her own faith.

“It’s a particularly feminine way to practice modesty and reverence toward God where you put off a part of your identity and vanity by covering your hair,” Ayers said.

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