Sana, The Thrifty Hijabi
Team BMGFly: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is defined as that “it” factor Black Muslim Girls & Women have that makes them amazing, dope, & fresh-to-death awesome. How would you describe your #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Sana: First, I would say being Black and Muslim in itself is FLY. I would explain my #BlackMuslimGirlFly as being comfortable and confident in being true to myself. I believe the true essence of flyness comes from a sense of pride in oneself without all the extra fluff or material things. I don’t need expensive things or anyone else’s validation to know I’m fly. Fly is not having it all and still somehow managing to shine and making it work. It’s thinking outside of the box instead of letting everyone else box you in.
Team BMGFly: How did you grow into your Muslim identity? And, how does being a Black girl impact that? (Or, if you’re bi-racial, or of multi-ethnic heritage, how does that impact your Muslim identity?)
Sana: So, growing into my Muslim identity, I would say really wasn’t hard because I was always surrounded by my small Muslim Community. Either way, that’s what I really grew up with. I went to Muslim school most of my life, you know up until tenth grade, basically. I only did my last three years of public school. So growing up, it really was a small tight-knit Muslim community and I grew up the same friends. I’ve had the same friends I’ve been with forever. A lot of our families are very close, and have been close for years. My mom, she just always had us in the Muslim community. We were in activities that surrounded by the Muslim community or were attached to it. So, whether it was, you know summer camps, after-school activities, Girl Scouts, things on a weekend; they were all attached to the Masjid in some way, shape or form. I never really had to grow into it because it was so instilled. It was so second nature for me. Even though we lived in neighborhoods with non-Muslims. We had friends, you know, in our neighborhood that weren’t Muslim, but because we were so ingrained in the Muslim community, it was just really like second nature. So, I never really had a time where I could say I grew into it. You know, I grew with it. I feel it was always, pretty much, always my identity. I never knew any disconnection or whatever.
Team BMGFly: How do you maneuver your industry as a Black Muslim Woman?
Sana: You know what I realized, is there aren’t a lot of Muslim women with this thing for thrifting. There aren’t a lot of people I see blogging about it. So, that definitely needs a lane that hasn’t been opened up; a lane that nobody has really dived into, yet. But, I do see a lot of African-American women, Black women you know, who are thrifting. They’re bloggers, and they’re opening up their own thrift stores. I’ve definitely seen a lot of that since moving to Atlanta. I do think being Muslim makes me unique because as Muslims it’s hard enough for us to find clothing that can be both fashionable, and also cover us in a way that is acceptable or proper. So, I know that Muslim women have that issue already off hand, just shopping in a regular store. I think with thrifting it’s an even better way, too, because you have so much access to different things. I feel like thrifting is a great way to find regular clothing, that you can just find, that’s suitable for you as a Muslim woman.
Team BMGFly: You host the blog, “The Thrifty Hijabi.” What made you decide to take that leap of faith and publish a blog/YouTube channel?
Sana: I think I have a couple of videos on YouTube right now. YouTube, I really wanted to be an extension of my blog, like also with thrifting. I’m very much into repurposing, and I learned a lot of up cycles. Like, I love turning old things into new things. So one of my things is, that I love reshaping old handbags. I have on a pair of earrings right now, from an old thrifted handbag. I love doing stuff like that. I did one video where I showed how I turned an old pair of leather boots into earrings. So, I definitely want to do more videos like that, just showing people the process of refashioning and DIY projects. I also wanted to jump a little more into thrifting, like the process of how I go about it. If they’re standing at their store, and I show how I go about choosing pieces and putting things together for my blog. So yeah!
Team BMGFly: What were the steps you took to complete your blog?
Sana: I would say almost a couple years back I started to really use Instagram, and I think I just started posting more about my outfits, and getting them from the thrift stores. So once I started doing that, just sharing information on Facebook and Instagram. You know I got a lot of feedback from people saying, “You should really do a blog,” “You should really do a blog,” including my husband. He’d say, “You should watch. It’s not a blog. So it really was everyone else’s feedback that really pushed me into creating the blog, creating a blog because I hadn’t really ever— I wasn’t familiar with the blogging world like that. I didn’t really understand it. So, that was really what pushed me in that direction. I basically, I just researched it a little bit. Researched blogging and then I researched some platforms on how to start one: what I needed and I basically chose one. Then, I’d spend days creating so much stuff. Definitely a process, it was definitely a learning process you know. I was on YouTube learning everything; how to put it together and I just fit it. Now it’s been about a year. Then the research was important. The tutorials that other people offered.
Click Here to visit The Thrifty Hijabi Online: https://www.thethriftyhijabi.com/
Team BMGFly: How do you keep aware of what you deliver, and what you have that separates you from others in your industry?
Sana: Well, see then I would have to go back to being Muslim because I don’t really see any other Muslim women who are thrifters and bloggers. So, it definitely works right there because a lot of the things I do with my blog, and the outfits I put together, they’re different than what you see a lot of other bloggers, even thrifting bloggers, do. So I get a lot of feedback not just from Muslim women but from non-Muslim women will say, “I really like your style and I really like the way you put outfits together.” I think that definitely separates me. Also, the refashioning and stuff like that because I’m not just about thrifting. I’m also about recycling, you know, take things and making them into something else. That’s a big part of like fashion for me because I love jewelry and I love earrings. So I’m always making a new pair of earrings some way. It’s refashioning because I’ll take something that used to be something else and turn it into something totally different.
Team BMGFly: How did you come up with the title “The Thrifty Hijabi,” and what’s the story behind it?
Sana: ‘The Thrifty Hijabi’, you know I just… You know how you just create a hashtag? One day I was putting something on Instagram, and I started putting in tags. Then, I put in #TheThriftyHijabi, and I was like, “You know what? The Thrifty Hijabi. I like the way it totally describes me.” I thought, “Yeah, that’s what I’m just going to go by.” It made me feel happy. So, that’s what happened.
Team BMGFly: What’s the number one thing you hope people will gain from following you on social media?
Sana: Well, it comes down to what I bring in terms of thrifting, and I really want people to see that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be fashionable, to be stylish. I know there are plenty of people who don’t have the most money because how I started is when I was broke. So, I understand that you know, everybody’s pockets are not the same. I don’t think you have to have a lot of money to look good. I don’t think that you have to spend on certain brands to be stylish, and I think as a Muslim woman you can shop in regular stores and still follow within the guidelines of what you’re trying to do when covering. I hope that also like with this blog or what I’ve presented on social media, others find something; because really what happened is that I felt like I really just found my ‘something.’ I felt like I was passionate about it, and I felt like I was good at, so I decided to blog about it. I hope that people realize that everyone has some sort of talent, some sort of gift, some sort of interest that makes them special. Whatever it is, share that with the world. Share your gift, share your talent, share your interests with people because you never know or where it can lead. So, I hope that my presence also gives people that type of outlook as well. And, that’s another thing. I get a lot of feedback from people, and like I said it’s not just Muslims. It’s also other people, and those are the things that also keep me going. I get a lot of feedback from people, and they never realize how much those words motivate me. People will say, “I’m trying. I’m just starting the practice and I need some help with covering, and you’re really inspiring me.” Or, somebody will say, “I’m trying to get back to covering.” They usually inspire me, but somebody who’s not Muslim is like, “You really got me interested in learning more about Islam.” I have so many different people just contact me, and they really don’t know how much that motivates me and pushes me even further. You know, so I’m happy that people are inspired by me. It’s really humbling, and it’s really… you know, I’m definitely grateful for it.
TeamBMGFly: What is your “daily grind” like on a typical day? And, tell me about a special event you recently attended as a blogger?
Sana: Okay. So in the morning, of course, I get my son ready and out the door to go to school. From there it just depends if I’m working on the blog, or if I’m right now working on the store. It just depends. Like today, after this, I’m probably gonna start working on my blog. I’m going to start looking at my pics figuring out what pics I’m going to use. Then, I’ll start writing and editing everything. Or, if I’ve to go to the store, I’ll go to the thrift store for stuff that I’ll need. A lot of stuff I’ll either get from thrift stores to resell. So between the thrift store, looking in my closet for stuff, to working here on the blog, I’ll put an outfit together. And, actually being on the internet and working on my website, that’s pretty much what takes up all my time currently right now. With the store, I do a lot of gathering everything together, taking pictures, and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s like a whole production. So, that’s pretty much it, between the blog and the store, and everything in between, that’s pretty much how my days go nowadays.
Team BMGFly: How does your career impact the other aspects of your life, including your family?
Sana: Well for my husband, he’s very supportive. He’s very supportive. Like I said, he was one of the first ones to tell me to start a blog. Matter of fact, he had mentioned something about starting a thrift store before I even thought about it. I was like, “I’m not doing it.” You know he’s always been very supportive when it comes to the blogging and everything that I’m doing. It works well, he takes a lot of my pictures. He’s a photographer for the most part. My son, he’s good. Of course, he hates going to the thrift store as we probably did as kids. So, he’s not a big fan of going to the thrift store, but you know what one thing I would say about him is like; he’s a low-key hater like, “Why you go to the thrift store?” But, one thing about him, like a lot of kids, he understands money. They might not understand everything, but he understands money. So, I try to teach my kids about saving money, you know, spending habits and not always needing to have the newest things. You can get nice things and save money. So, I definitely try to instill that into them. I remember being a kid and not wanting to only shop there. So, I understand that. I think one day I had to show him in an article, the CEO of Ikea. I think he’s an owner. He’s like a multi-millionaire, and there’s an article where he said, he buys everything thrift. He buys everything used. I showed that to my son, and you know he doesn’t understand a lot of things, but he understands money. When he saw that, he was like, “Really? Wow. Okay.” So, I teach them things like that, and he’s like, “Okay I understand, makes sense.”
Team BMGFly: Who did you look up to while growing up? Who inspires you now?
Sana: Oh, my mom. She’s just like, she thinks this is awesome. I grew up with her taking us to the thrift stores. So, she thinks this is great that I’m showing how to be fashionable and thrifty at the same time. It definitely feels great. That really inspired me. I first thought about when I was a little girl, and my first one was Flo Jo the track star, and I just remember her having these fly outfits on with her long colorful nails out there. I just remember looking up to her. She was fast, and she was stylish on the track. I was just thinking about it a little more, too because when I was little, I was always into singing so also, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I wanted to be like them. You know when I was a little girl. Honestly, after that, as I grew up it definitely was my mom, all my mom. Like you know as I’ve grown, especially as I’m going through being a woman. I’ve grown into a mother and a wife. I definitely look up to my mom because I look back and see everything she sacrificed for us in all the upbringing she gave us, and I just have so much respect and admiration for her. My mom raised four African-American boys in Baltimore City. All upstanding, you know, they haven’t been to jail, they don’t have records. None of them broke the law, or you know, are six feet under. They’re all family men. I just have so much respect and admiration for my mom. I don’t know how she did it, but I just look at her as an example. I know I can never be half the woman or mother she was, but if I could try to just instill some of what she gave us. I feel good about that because she definitely gave us a legacy that is hard to fill her shoes, but I appreciate everything about what she’s done for us. Right now I would say, there are some thrifters I look up to. There is the first time I started talking about thrifting and stuff, and someone– a friend of mine put me on to these thrifting groups. There are a few groups that were created by a couple of women. One name is Wendy. She’s on Instagram. She runs a blog called ‘365 dresses’ I believe.
Team BMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt defeated, and how did you overcome that?
Sana: My most defeated moment; my most defeated moment would have to be when I actually was evicted from my apartment when I lived in New York and I found myself in the shelter. That was… I think that had to be the most defeated moment for me because you know, I had never really envisioned that I would ever experience that. For one, I was someone who went to school, I went to college I did all of these things before I even got married. I got two degrees, then got married, then moved and I just found myself in a really bad place. Just being single, trying to make ends meet, trying to re-gather myself after getting divorced, and that was just the hardest thing ever. And, during the recession. So I found myself really, really struggling at that time. Well, how do I overcome that? I got myself together. It was a struggle, because I mean those were some really rough years, but it was, when I think about it, it’s like sometimes I don’t even know how I went through all of that. But, I got through it. At the time there was a lot of tension between me and my children’s father. So, a lot of things that happened, happened because there was that tension between us. You know that it wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but we both had to get our own stuff together in terms of working with each other. We had to get on the same page of life, even though we weren’t together. We needed to be on one accord of making sure that everything is good no matter what because I’m the mother of the children and I’m taking care of them, so let’s make sure of that. We were at each other, in the beginning. Then, we basically got on to one accord. I think we began to work with each other. I think that helped, but it was rough living in New York. I can say for years I had a hard time finding work. I had a hard time with juggling my kids and trying to work because I was away from all of my family. So, I really didn’t have a network of people to really help. I didn’t really have that support system. So that was… that was difficult on another side. So what was the rest of the question like? Coming together. It was going to have to be him helping me out and making sure that everything was straight until I got back on my feet, and I think that that’s how we just had to really put aside our differences, and work on making everything good for the kids. So, you know some time went by and I eventually got a job. Things just– everything eased up. All the things that I had been dealing with eventually eased up. I didn’t have to deal with public assistance anymore and that, in and of itself, was just such a… it was just a really hurtful thing for me to have to go through. I never thought that I would experience that. You know as somebody who, you know, I’ve seen my mom go through that. I know my mom instilled in us to go to school and do this and do that to make sure that we were never in that situation. So, when that happened to me it was very… it was just hard, it was embarrassing because I didn’t think I could have ever envisioned it. I went to school to make sure that I would never have to deal with anything like that, but I found myself in that place. So, it was also humbling, it was very humbling.
Team BMGFly: Can you describe a moment where you felt like you defied odds or broke barriers?
Sana: When I found broke barriers? You know what I think that I realized? When I had finally had a chance to really sit back and think about everything I had gone through, because we even had gone through custody stuff, I accomplished a lot. It was a lot of stuff that had happened, that, well at that time, I felt like it couldn’t totally destroy. You know, I really could have found myself just like, down and out and just ready to give up. But, I didn’t and I just wasn’t totally defeated by it. I think that the only thing I can say that really made me realize like, “Okay I defeated this, I beat the odds, is realizing that I kept this faith and Allah this whole time, you know. No matter what I was going through, I just always knew that this wasn’t going to be forever, and this is just a part of my story. That it was the type of stuff that really kept me going no matter what. No matter how long I was going through challenges. I just always thought like, “This is not the end, this is just a part of my story. And, this is going to be a great part of my story to look back on and build from.” That was just to have my faith. Keep your faith. “There was nothing else I could do but to keep the faith.” You know that’s all I can really do, that’s if you look at it like that, like,”Yeah, have a presence of mind.”
Team BMGFly: What would you cite as the foundation of your success?
Sana: The foundation for my success, I’m leaving off on success. The foundation would be, I would say my experiences for one, my experiences, the things that I’ve been through is like a story. I feel like I’m here for a reason. There’s a story that is supposed to be told after all of this. I truly believe that there’s a story, and when I was going through all of this I said I never lost faith. I just never lost faith, you know. I never lost faith and it just made me closer. It really brought me closer to Allah, the foundation for my success. The closer that I got after everything. Sometimes when people find themselves in a bad position, they sometimes turn away from Allah but that wasn’t me. I just really didn’t know what else to do but to turn to Him. So, I think my faith had been stronger than it had ever been and that is what helped me do everything, including taking care of my kids. My kids were my reason. So, have your reason to keep going. They were always my reason to keep going. They were always my reason to keep believing in myself, to keep believing that you know that these things were gonna pass and that everything’s going to be alright. No matter what, I had to be all right for them regardless of what I was going through. I had to be there for them and I had to be a sound mind just to get through everything.
Team BMGFly: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is an empowerment brand created to uplift and remind Black girls that they are FLY in many ways. What advice would you give all the Black Muslim girls out there, worldwide, to cultivate their own individual #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Sana: Well, first I would tell them, what my mom always instilled in us: first of all, Black is awesome, is beautiful. You’re already amazing, you’re already special. No matter how much you are overlooked, no matter how much you are left out of the conversation or you are left out of representation, you know you have an important voice and you have an important presence and that you are needed. We need to be more vocal, we need to be more visible, no matter how much they want us to shut up. It’s important that we are seen and heard, and our talents and our gifts are recognized. So, I would say whatever it is that you have, that you want to share, share it and keep sharing it. No matter if they’re paying attention or not, you know you are dope in your home, right? So, keep going.
Team BMGFly: What’s something you haven’t done yet, but would like to do next?
Sana: You know what, I would say travel the world but more importantly than anything it would be to make Hajj. That, I haven’t been able to do. So, definitely number one on the bucket list!
Shop at Sana’s Flagship Online Thrift Store, Perfectly Picked Thrift! https://thethriftyhijabi.com/perfectlypickedthrift/
Thanks again for sharing your story with us and the rest of the world. I believe it’s very important for us, Black Muslim Girls and Women, to stand up and speak up and let the world know we are here and we’re making things happen. For far too long, we’ve been made to be invisible.