Catty hijab fashion bloggers and businesses

There is something bizarre about the world of online hijab fashion.

It seems like a lot of people want to get noticed by putting in as little hard work as possible, by basically riding on the coattails of others.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little lost about this blog. It used to bring me such joy when I first started it, and it still does on occasion.

But it has also brought me heart break. It has caused me to question my relationship with some folks in the Muslim community.

By and large, most of the people I encounter are friendly. But there is this underlying tone, that basically people only want to be friendly in order to get something out of it.

Perhaps part of the problem is less serious bloggers, who just want a moment of fame and free goodies, who are willing to do things for businesses without hesitation. They then set a bad precedent in terms of ethics and journalism.

When I was at the most passionate phase of my blogging, I started to receive dozens and dozens of requests for businesses to have their products reviewed or featured. And almost every time it was like pulling teeth to ask them to consider purchasing ad space in the future.

In other words, if it was free they wanted it, and to be honest, they pretty much expected it.

Add to that the constant hounding from businesses who send me stuff and expect I review it ASAP. However, I do have a strict policy for reviewing items. And I wish more people would read it.

What threw me off though, was an incident that still puzzles me to this day.

I wrote a review about an up and coming hijab fashion designer. Afterward she sent me a gift of her exclusively designed hijab.

When I went to visit my in-laws in another state, she invited me over to her place, which was really nice of her. We talked about blogging and I encouraged her to start one of her own which she said she had been thinking about doing.

My problem is that I always put my whole heart in everything I do. So I trusted her and her intentions without question. I honestly thought I was making a new friend.

I even told her that I’d have to review the gift she sent me sometime, because I loved it.

Of course time passed and I never had the chance to post my review.

But that’s not an excuse, I did plan to get to it eventually.

I happened to post a photo review of a dress that was sent to me, and I decided to wear the white hijab she gave me because it matched the outfit.

My policy is to review only the item sent and not list everything, because the point is to focus on the item itself.

In my head though, I thought, well she’s my friend, maybe I should give her props.

However, I knew that it wouldn’t be fair to others including another designer I had worn a hijab from if I didn’t mention her too. I decided to stick by my policy and not start doing favors for people.

I was shocked when I received a text within hours of the posting, which I will paraphrase:

“My assistant said she saw you posted a picture of my hijab without giving credit, I told her that was impossible you’re a journalist and my friend and you would never do that.”

It completely caught me off guard, but I was honest and responded:

“I did think about it, but decided not to because then I’d have to list everyone”

Well she then responded she was shocked and couldn’t believe it.

I tried to call her, because I knew it was a misunderstanding and you can only say so much via text.

She never picked up, but texted me that everything was fine.

I assumed that she understood. Then, imagine my surprise when “unfriended” me on Facebook and twitter and basically shunned me.

I even reached out to her because there was a journalist looking to interview a hijab designer. Silence from her end.

She basically made me feel guilty for something I never did. It was so stressful, because I looked up to her and was not expecting such behavior.

I let it slide. And then I sent her one more email telling her that I was sorry if I had offended her in anyway and that I was going through a really rough time (my husband was out of work). I also went ahead and put her credit in the photo and posted a video review of her product, hoping to show her my sincerity.

Long story short she merely responded that she hoped things worked out for me.

But this dramatic story really isn’t what it’s all about. And I know I probably sound like a raving lunatic. It just opened my eyes that there never was a friendship to begin with.

It was basically her trying to get her products noticed and when that didn’t happen she cut off all ties.

I was saddened, because I always give folks in the Muslim community higher expectations. I assume they all want to live by the line of loving your brothers and sisters for the sake of God and really being genuine about it.

What frustrates me is that this isn’t the first or last time it’s going to happen. And it’s quite tiring to have a blog that everyone feels entitled to.

This is my sweat and tears that I put into this, and no you don’t get a free pass because you’re Muslim.

I wrote this because I wanted to get it out of my system and gain some closure before the start of the New Year. 🙂

What are your thoughts? Am I too sensitive? And what do you think about hijab fashion companies expecting free advertising? What about bloggers who post reviews only because they’re getting free stuff?


This article has 8 comments

  1. Mariam Sobh

    Kawthar thanks for the comment you crack me up 🙂
    I think there needs to be some kind of a skit done on this loool.

  2. kawthar

    salam alaikum

    girrrrrrlll don’t you know if you work with a muslim, you have to offer them everything for free or at a severe discount!!!!! lol This mentality is everywhere in the Muslim world and unfortunately if you are in business with Muslims they don’t expect you to make a penny! They always want a favor even if it means you starve…I guess I should relax a little. =) Everyone is not that bad alhamdulilah. My dad owned a halal store so I’m very familiar with this craziness. Just stay strong sister you will always run into those who are insincere, cheap, and unappreciative. Patient perseverance is the answer.


  3. Mariam Sobh

    Thank you all for your comments and support.

    Just to clarify, the item that was the center of the drama here, was a gift given to me a year or so before I even took a picture of it. It was never sent as a review piece. But I wanted to review it because I actually liked it. Or maybe I was mistaken and it was a review item and I assumed it was a gift lol.
    But that’s all behind me now. I agree that it’s hard for everyone involved to try to promote each other and support each others’ businesses.

    Khuluwd thanks for sharing your story. Ayse thank you for letting me know I’m not crazy hehe.
    Noor very great insight and appreciate your feedback. Rana I see your point, and I just wish that somehow we can all just get along hehe 🙂

  4. Noor

    I have run a self-hosted site in the past and what seems to be overlooked by the brands who often approcahed me was that it cost me $ to host my site. My professional site cost money to brand and maintain. My readership cost money, time and work to cultivate. It’s a business like any other. It is absolutely free advertising for a company to send an item without paying for the cost of my service to do a write up and review on it. Why? Because writing up professional blog posts, taking pictures, croping pictures,etc. is all incredibly time consuming. It’s basically a PR release! Sending an item is just par for the course. How can a blogger post about an item they have not had the opportunity to even look at? When a blogger reviews an item for a company they are puting themselves on the line to represent the item and brand. This all costs money. Mariam best of luck to you. I encourage you to put together some ad packages and offer a buy it now button straight off your site. That’s what I have finally done myself. I am not working for free.

  5. Rana

    I think you’re right to be upset, seems like you were the one betrayed, not her. But I do have a thought about the hijab fashion companies wanting ‘free’ advertising. Of course they should not feel entitled to this, but if they send you something to review, it’s not ‘free’ for them- they are losing money by sending you an item you are getting for free; and what’s more is it’s a risk because it should be your honest review, not necesariy the ‘glowing’ review they want. Maybe I misunderstood what you mean, but seems that especially for small businesses starting out, it would be financially difficult to have to both forfeit a product and to pay for a monthly ad spot . . .

  6. Noor

    Salam Mariam

    I think your “friend” has probably been burned a lot in the past and thought-here we go again. I think what you provide with your blog is a service and as such you should be compensated for your professional work. Free for readers-not for hijab brands. They must pay for advert if they want to use a space on this site.

  7. Khuluwd

    Salaam my dear sister.
    I feel your pain tremendously.
    I am a freelance Graphic Designer and I was working within the Muslim community for exposure and I believed they wanted a “free-pass” as well.
    You would think that because you choose to do business with muslims they will see that you are on the cusp of your career and a helping hand would be more than appreciated but somehow it befalls on us. Just remember it is your intentions that count and not EVERYONE is bad. I completely understand that it questions your ethics but perseverance is key!
    It hasn’t stopped me from being passionate about my work and I am sure you have some great work allies!!!
    Keep up the great work,
    I enjoy reading!!!

  8. AyseBlogosphere

    you really are not too sensitive about that topic.Wish everyone would be a lot more sensitive about it !

Comments are now closed.