There is something wonderful about tie-dye. It is so joyous and unbounded, so colourful and free.
Sana Saleh loves colour, so when she saw the tie-dye trend taking off last year, she started thinking about a tie-dyed hijab.
“Hijabs are traditionally pretty boring,” she says. “To be honest, they’re really boring. They’re just all these solid colors, or printed hijabs with some flowers on it. And so when I saw that the trend of tie-dye came back, I was like, Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing ever.”
When she couldn’t find a tie-dyed hijab to buy, she got a basic tie-dye kit to make one herself.
It was the early months of the pandemic. At the time, Ms. Saleh’s husband had been laid off from his job as an aircraft mechanic, and the two were using their new TikTok account, @salehfamily, to entertain and educate people about their Muslim faith, what it means to wear the hijab and the dynamics of their inter-cultural marriage (Sana is Pakistani, and Will is of European ancestry).
Their TikTok account was growing rapidly, and when Ms. Saleh wore her tie-dyed hijab, other women wanted to know where to get one.
“And then we sat down, and we’re like, should we do like as a business?,” Sana says. “Because no one else was doing it.”
With no experience with tie-dye, business or fashion, the couple began experimenting with colours, techniques and designs, with Will bringing some of the precision of his work as an aircraft maintenance engineer to the task.
“Obviously, it’s a little bit different going from airplanes to hijabs and fashion, but I think it carries over well,” he says.
Will says their goal was to make hijabs “as unique and as beautiful as the people who wear them,” and they approached their first collection with colour theory in mind, using yellow, pink, blue and purple to promote a feeling of positivity.
“It’s meant to boost your mood and make you feel good,” Sana says. “There’s so many customers that leave us reviews saying, ‘If I’m having a gloomy day, I just grab my scarf, and I put it on and I just feel so much better.’”
A year later, their TikTok has grown to 1.4 million followers, and Lala Hijabs has become a global brand.
The couple still tie-dyes every hijab by hand, and has shipped them all over the world, including to Asia, Singapore, Tanzania and the Maldives. Will and Sana now devote themselves full time to their social media channels and tie-dye business, which they say has replaced the income from their previous professions.
Sana recalls going to a Ramadan market recently, and seeing people there wearing their hijabs.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, this is so cool. To be walking around the shopping area, and literally pointing and being like, We made that!’ That is so cool,” she says. “We don’t know who they are, but they purchased from us. It’s crazy.”
At the next Craft Club livestreamed on June 22 at 7 p.m. ET, Will and Sana will teach us to tie-dye a t-shirt or other item. You can buy something new to dye, or transform something you already own.
As Will says, “You can literally can just take any old piece of clothing and make it new again.”
- A white t-shirt or other item made of cotton or natural fibres
- A multi-coloured tie-dye kit
- A fork
- Plastic squirt bottle (like the kind used for mustard or ketchup)