BROOKLYN — A women-only salon opening in Bay Ridge will be a beauty safe haven for many Muslim women in the community.
Le'Jemalik Salon and Boutique on Fifth Avenue between Bay Ridge and Ovington Avenues will open on Jan. 29. Muslim women who wear hijab are often confronted with a difficult challenge when they need to get a haircut. But in Le’Jemalik salon, which means "for your beauty" in Arabic, all women will be able to literally let their hair down.
"Even women who don't cover their hair (with a hijab) just don't want men walking in and seeing foils and highlights teased or whatever. They can be very comfortable in here and be themselves," owner Huda Quhshi said.
Quhshi said it has been her dream to open a salon that caters to women in her community.
"The artistic side of hair and makeup is just amazing — to make a woman feel beautiful," Quhshi said.
Born and raised in Greenpoint, Quhshi has been doing hair and makeup for female family members for as long as she can remember.
"At 10, I was doing my mom's henna tattoos. By 14, I was using my sister or anyone I can get my hands on, I would do their hair and makeup. I would tell my father I want to go to beauty school," she said.
The salon allows women to be pampered and luxuriate without the stress of a man walking in.
"The horror stories I would hear of women telling me oh they put me in the basement it's scary and they have to do my hair down there just in case somebody walked in and saw me."
For many Muslim women, it’s usually a room without a view — a back room, basement or a break room — for privacy. Women who wear hijabs only remove them around other women or men in their immediate family. Even at women-owned salons, a male client or a male employee can pop up at any moment, but not at Le'Jemalik Salon.
"In my own experiences, sometimes I wouldn't even go to a salon. I'd just do my hair at home than to have to go to a salon and worry about someone seeing my hair out. I'd be tucked away in a back room. A lot of salons provide service for hijabi women or conservative women but they have a specific back room so they're secluded. You can't be outside with everybody else. I don't want that, I want for all women to be comfortable and say I'm not going to a back room or basement, this whole space is for me," Quhshi said.
"As soon as you walk into many salons, it's an open space. At Le'Jemalik, it's designed to be a "beauty safe haven."
Quishi said she's not legally prohibited from opening an all-female salon. It will have a small reception area where men are welcome to wait for women. But beyond the doors, no men are allowed, not even male customers or male employees.
"They can take their scarf off and feel at ease like they were at home and get any service they need done," Quishi said.
It's a sprawling interior with a bridal boutique in the basement. The boutique will resell formal dresses at discounted prices. Quishi designed the salon herself. Customers can get a hair cut, nails or makeup done and receive skin and hair care treatment, among other services.
"I wanted them to have a one-stop shop someplace to get everything done," Quishi said.
She also plans to hold classes every Monday evening.
"It's an amazing feeling to not only be a salon owner but a Muslim and Yemeni woman in business because it's a little more difficult in our culture to open a business on your own," Quishi said.