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Shopping for Culture Day


Sometimes I dread reading the flyers that come home from school.

On the first Friday in February, we got backpack mail telling us about Prophet’s Week.  In the years past, this was a week where the school had different activities going on, but nothing that involved the parents.  This year the Islamic Studies Department was upping their game.  I should have anticipated something big was going to happen because of the big Arabic Reading Day celebration that involved singing and plays being acted out on stage…but I didn’t, and was caught off guard.

So, what is Prophet’s Week?  I didn’t realize until this year that it is a week-long celebration to honor Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.  The flyer came home, Tuesday is culture day and Thursday is share-a-plate.  I asked the ladies what they wanted to wear for culture day, and they said they wanted to dress Egyptian, and for share-a-plate, they wanted American Food.

It is times like this that I feel completely inept at being their mother.  It has been 6 years since I’ve been to Egypt, 3 years since Khaled was last there.  When my sister-in-law came for a visit 3 years ago, she brought Egyptian abayas for the ladies to wear.  They love their Egyptian dresses, and wear them every chance they get.  Except that now, Pea has outgrown hers, and Kate doesn’t want to wear hand-me-downs.

So on Friday, I found out that I had 3 days to come up with Egyptian style ‘cultural’ clothing.  Websites were out of the question, they would never arrive on time.  I asked around if anyone had something we could borrow or if they knew any shops and I came up empty-handed.  Of course, everyone else was prepared, or their children were happy to dress American.

I remembered watching All-American Muslim this past fall and making sure to note the episode where the Zaban family took their daughters shopping for hijabs.  I’ve got all the episodes still on my DVR, so I skimmed through them until I found the episode, and wrote down the name of the shop.  When I watched this episode, the girls seemed so comfortable.  The shop was unlike any Middle Eastern/Islamic shopping experience I’ve seen either here or overseas.  I wanted to go there.

The Hija Bee is a store owned by a young American Muslim husband and wife.  They both grew up in The United States, and found a need in the community for American Style boutique shopping that focuses on the 16-30 ish age bracket.  Lama and Abdul have filled that need with their shop.

The Hija Bee is easily located on your GPS, and there is ample signage and convenient off the street parking.  The store is bright, cheerful, clean, well-organized and very welcoming.  There are an abundance of beautiful abayas, from simple to ornate, and in sizes that range from the littlest girls to the fully grown woman.  When we went in, we asked if they might have something for the ladies, and we were led to a rack where they not only had a selection of abayas, but Islamic appropriate swimwear.  We chose a few pieces and then went back to the dressing room and tried them on.  Within minutes, the ladies had selected their new abayas, and Lama helped us choose coordinating hijabs to complement both their abayas and their skin tone.  We were able to comfortably browse the vast hijab selection while each outfit was specially boxed and packaged in a hot pink bag.

Both Kate and Pea felt like complete princesses when they got to carry their own bags.  I was thrilled to find a shop that I knew I could visit without Khaled or one of my hijabi friends and be comfortable.  I could bring the ladies on my own to The Hija Bee and feel welcome, get the help I needed and not feel judged.

We ended up stopping at a few more stores that were recommended to us by a bookstore clerk, but those ended up being typical Middle Eastern shopping experiences.  They were dark, overcrowded and not particularly clean.  The shop owner was intimidating and had Arabic soap operas on the loud television.  I knew right away that the prices doubled when I walked in with Khaled just like any place we go to overseas.  We didn’t buy anything else, and I told Khaled that the next time we need something I won’t go to any other shop.  Why should we?

On culture day the ladies were dressed to the nines in their new abayas and hijabs.  They were so proud and everyone at school thought they looked so beautiful.  I have been telling everyone I know about The Hija Bee because I want the store to do well.  I want to have a place I can go shopping and feel comfortable, and I have no problem telling anyone where I got the outfits from.

When I find a good deal, I share it, and when I find something or some place that will help people like me, raising Muslim children when you don’t know where to begin, I tell them.  You can find out more about The Hija Bee on Facebook and this article on The Arab American website.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    03/07/2012 12:01 PM

    I loved the store too.

    • Anonymous permalink
      03/07/2012 12:02 PM

      I will aleays go back.
      Glad u liked it.

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