Interview with Hessa

Hessa-Trunk-Picture Question: Please inform our readers about your backgrounds (both of you)?

Answer: Zainab Iqbal Khan:  Graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

Romana Ahmed Zaman:  Graduated with a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Houston.

Question: How did you both come with the idea of starting this venture: Do you have any formal training in this field?

Answer: Hessa came about as a consequence of our own personal need for clothing that is stylish and classic yet modest. Frustrated with barely their sleeves, short hemlines and plunging necklines, we created Hessa.

We both share a real appreciation for finer clothing.  Most importantly, however, we share a deep commitment to our faith.  Our faith and shared appreciation inspires us in what we do.

Question: What is the significance of coming up with the name Hessa for your clothing?

Answer: The origin of the name “Hessa” is Arabic and its literal meaning is “destiny”. Simplicity and special meaning were two criteria when searching for a company name. We loved the sound simplicity of the name, Hessa, and even more so—the meaning of it. We can help shape our destiny with the choices that we make.  We choose to protect our principles of modesty and preserve our Islamic identity. This is the primary force that drives Hessa.

Question: Is Hessa a necessity for our community?

Answer: We wouldn’t be doing what we do if we didn’t believe that with conviction. We believe in Hessa and Hessa’s potential Insha’Allah to fill a market void…striking a perfect balance between style and modesty.

Question: What is unique about Hessa Designs: Do you see any competitors out in the market?

Answer: Frankly, we don’t see any competitors of Hessa at this time. Most other clothing lines which cater to Muslim women offer Eastern style clothing or clothing that merges Eastern and Western styles. Hessa designs Western clothing that is fashionable yet conservative. We purchase all fabric of impeccable quality from the States and all of our clothing is manufactured in the States as well. We both design only styles that we personally love wearing. We are actively involved in the manufacturing process. We ensure that our clothing is meticulously assembled.

Hessa also offers stylish scarves in coordinating and stylish colors. We offer a line of designer men’s non-silk ties and carry exquisite Islamic décor.

Question: How many different types of designs do you have and briefly describe them?

Answer: Hessa’s line of clothing includes tunics, shirt dresses and ponchos. We use a variety of fabrics: chiffons, silks, cotton silks, cottons, and cut velvets. Many of our designs are beautifully accented with beaded and fabric trims.

Question: What are the challenges you are facing at present?

Answer: As a start-up company, our greatest challenge is marketing. We believe in Hessa, the inspiration behind it, and most importantly what Hessa offers. We are working on getting our name out and establishing our company reputation.

Question: Feedback we have received from some community members, who visited your booth at the Texas Dawah Convention in December 2008: They feel your clothing are very good, but are on the expensive side and not everyone can buy them: Is this true?

Answer: We custom design all of Hessa’s clothing. We go to great lengths to select the finest fabrics and embellishments for Hessa designs. We do not design Eastern styles, mass produced overseas, and then brought here to sell. It may be that customers who frequent conventions are accustomed to the pricing strategy of such products.

However, considering the quality of Hessa clothing, we believe our pricing is reasonable. For example, one of the very fabrics we selected for a poncho in our Spring 2009 collection, has also been used by Neiman Marcus, as seen in its current mail-out. Neiman Marcus offers a camisole in the very fabric, print and color priced at $195 as Hessa’s poncho priced at $79. Our designs and fabrics are similar to those found in upscale retail outfits.

Question: What business model are you planning to use: Are you going to do it all by yourself or are you planning to partner with others in the future?

Answer: Hessa is an online retail venture. We hope that the internet will allow us to broaden our customer base. Presently, we manage our business ourselves. We conduct business with honesty and integrity and will never compromise our values for business gain. We believe customer satisfaction is crucial to the success of our business.

Question: Will you encourage other women or may be men to enter into this arena?

Answer: We thoroughly enjoy what we do. However, it definitely takes a lot of time, dedication and investment to get a company up and running. If someone has an eye for fashion and design and commitment to modest-wear, then we say to go for it.

Question: How do you see Hessa in the next three seven and ten years?

Answer: Insha’Allah…In three years, we expect that Hessa will be a household name in the market of fine western fashion where the beauty of western style meets modest elegance.

In seven years, we hope to generate business on a larger scale in which we are, for example, able to offer different products, produce more styles, and carry a larger inventory.

In ten years, we hope to reach a significant level of growth and be as passionate and excited about our designs as we are today.

Question: Any last comments…

Answer: We believe the comments of a fashion expert and our valued customers speak for Hessa.

“Your clothing line is just stunning!” (International style blogger)

“I am often skeptical of ‘Islamic clothing’ as it often equates with inferior fabrics, poor quality, and less than desirable styles and designs. Hessa Designs is wonderful! I look forward to continuing to purchase high quality, fashionable, and conservative clothing from Hessa.” (Hessa online customer)

“Hessa clothes are just beautiful and I really want to thank you for giving your sister’s the opportunity to look beautiful and be modest at the same time.” (Hessa Trunk Show customer)


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