Multi-cultural consignment store caters to Muslim modesty

Cover girls: Owner of Bay Ridge salon Le’Jemalik has expanded with a multi-cultural consignment shop of modest threads in the basement.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

Call it a modest success.

The Bay Ridge salon that caters to hijab-wearing ladies has expanded with a multi-cultural consignment shop so salon-goers’ can find fancy threads that won’t impinge on their Muslim modesty and give them a chance to recycle special-occasion gowns that would otherwise collect dust in their closets.

“I see how when women buy their wedding gowns they feel it’s a waste of money, so this is a way for them to do something with their pre-loved dresses,” said Greenpoint resident Huda Quhshi, the salon’s owner. “This way, it makes it easier for women who can’t afford to buy a designer gown and to find something that suits their culture.”

The basement boutique in Fifth Avenue’s Le’Jemalik salon features a vibrant array of gowns, wedding dresses, and traditional garb for weddings and swanky shindigs. The thrifty threads include designer Palestinian thobes, Moroccan kaftans, and the Pakistani salwar kameez — a boon to Muslim gals looking for fashion-forward garments that still leaves a little to the imagination.

It is a wardrobe as diverse as the neighborhood it resides in, said Quhshi.

“The area we’re in is so diverse,” said Quhshi, a Yemni-American. “It’s not just Yemeni here — it’s Palestinian, Pakistani, Egyptian — so we try and have something for everyone.”

And the prices won’t break the bank either. Shoppers can drop anywhere from $50–$4,500 depending on their budget, and give the garments a try right in the shop’s fitting rooms. The owners of purchased frocks get a 60-percent cut of the take.

Le’Jemalik — which means “for beauty” in Arabic — opened to much fanfare in January after this paper previewed the opening. Since then, Quhshi’s vision of a man-free salon where ladies can luxuriate without the stress of strangers popping in has blown up with national praise from publications including Vogue, Allure, and a video by mini-documentary-maker NowThis Her with 18 million views.

Comptroller Scott Stringer even presented Quhshi with a commendation for her community leadership and entrepreneurship at the pol’s annual Eid Al-fitr celebration on July 13.

Quhshi, a 37-year-old licensed cosmetologist specializing in bridal hair and makeup, opened the salon after saving since she was 17-years-old with the aim of creating a one-stop beauty shop geared toward the often-overlooked needs of Muslim women.

The salon performs halal eyebrow treatments — where instead of plucking the hair it is bleached, tinted and shaped — and sells halal nail polish that allows water to pass through the paint, which would otherwise create a barrier to ritual ablutions. The salon is hiring for a manicurist.

Much of Quhshi’s freelance clientele prior to opening the beauty parlor lived in Bay Ridge, so the area made a natural fit, but more locations are on the horizon, she said.

“I have a lot of clients in the Bronx, and people drive hours from Long Island, so once things calm down, maybe I’ll open another location that will make it easier on them,” said Quhshi. “People have even approached me to franchise. So we’ll see.”

Those interested in selling their ensembles should send a description of the threads and photos to contact@lejemalik.com.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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