Ottawa

Hijab maker caps successful streak with new police design

A homegrown company is testing out a new hijab design for Ottawa Police Service members who wear the religious headscarf.

Ottawa startup Thawrih employs Syrian refugees to create custom head coverings

Thawrih has been making sports hijabs like this one for more than a year. The Ottawa company is now testing a version of the religious headscarf specially designed for members of the Ottawa Police Service. (Thawrih.com)

A homegrown company is testing out a new hijab design for Ottawa Police Service members who wear the religious headscarf.

Thawrih, which means "revolutionary" in Arabic, started producing workout hijabs, turbans and tops made from bamboo and other quick-dry materials in January 2017, around the same time Ottawa police announced they were revising their inclusion policy to include hijabs. 

The company was founded to produce sportswear that's appropriate and comfortable for people with cultural and religious restrictions. 

"They actually messaged us because they were wanting to implement hijabs as part of their uniforms to be more of an inclusive force," Sarah Abood, the company's co-founder, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "We are both local, so they really wanted to support us."

The prototype currently being tested is ready for action, Abood said.

"It's a tear-away hijab."

Similar to the company's other sports hijabs, the police design has a built-in headband to keep it in place, but this one is affixed with magnets so it can be easily detached to avoid choking hazards.

Thawrih founder Sarah Abood, 22, sports some of her company's new active wear that she says is both culturally appropriate and comfortable for people with religious restrictions. (Kimberley Molina/CBC)

Keeping it local

The commission from Ottawa police follows a successful year for Thawrih, Abood said.

The company's products are now sold in 18 countries, and there are plans to hire seven new employees to bolster its team of Syrian refugees who produce the hijabs from their homes using equipment and material provided by the company.

Thawrih has been approached by several investors, but most want to outsource the product. They've all been rebuffed, Abood said.

"That is something we are not interested in. We want to keep it locally made," she said. "We don't want to have it made in a ... country where the wages are low. We want to keep it made in Canada, [made] by Syrian refugees."

The company is also planning to launch a modest sports clothing line in the fall, Abood said, which will introduce products such as long-sleeved workout wear and swimming leggings.

Thawrih has a line of workout hijabs, turbans and tops made from bamboo and other quick-dry materials. (Zein Ahmed Photography)

CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning