Minimalist and modern; a google search inspires hijab bodysuit

Ruuq fashion model
RUUQ’s all-in-one bodysuits aim to make wearing a hijab more stylish and convenient. (Photo: Handout from Alizar Tawil)
AMMAN — CEO and Founder of RUUQ modest wear, Alizar Tawil, turned her unsuccessful online searches for an item into a flourishing business.

There's no shortage of women's bodysuits on the market, but Tawil was looking for something completely different. As a woman who wears a hijab, she wanted to find pieces that fit with her minimalist street style, while still maintaining a modest look. اضافة اعلان

After countless online searches, her efforts came up short. With no product out there similar to the one she envisioned, she had an epiphany: why not make it herself?

"I just kept doing a whole bunch of keyword searches, and I couldn't find exactly the thing I was looking for,” the founder explained in an interview with Jordan News. “It was at that second that I thought 'wait a second — I think I found something that is not exactly out there.’"

Her realization of a gap in the market led Tawil to design a hijab bodysuit, called “the Amirabody.” The Amira replaces the need for an underscarf, hijab, and turtleneck, combining all three elements into one garment. The bodysuit contours to the neck, face, and head, making it not only fashionable but also practical.

Tawil designed her signature bodysuits off of her own needs and a gap in the market. (Photo: Handout from Alizar Tawil)

Tawil was intentional with every facet of the branding and product, starting notably with the name. "Ruuq means chill in Arabic, and that's the kind of vibe that I wanted,” said Tawil. “Something that people can wear, and feel relaxed, and feel at ease. They don't have to worry about it.”

Tawil, a Lebanese-Canadian, converted to Islam at around the age of 20. After moving to Jordan a few years later with her husband, she broached the idea of wearing a hijab. "I remember when the whole hijab subject started coming up, and eventually I decided to wear it. It was a very difficult transition as someone who didn't grow up in that kind of environment or culture," she recalled.

The decision was initially difficult. Tawil worked towards a balance between the familiarity of her western clothing and the novelty of a hijab.

Feeling that she was on the brink of a seminal concept, she was determined to patent her bodysuit. "I don't see it in the market, and so the potential for it is much greater and the competition for it is zero,” she said.

In December 2020, Tawil was a contestant on “2-Minute Drill,” an American game show in which entrepreneurs pitch their business model and compete for $50,000 in funding. Two minutes was all it took for her to sell the hosts on her idea. Ultimately, she won against three other entrepreneurs.

"These guys who have nothing to do with women, much less Islam, much less hijab, are like 'damn, we've never heard that before.' That's what made it real for me,” recalled Tawil. “That's when I knew it wasn't a small-time project anymore. It's something that I can turn into a giant, hopefully. "

The entrepreneur utilized social media platforms TikTok and Instagram to market to her target audience of young, modern Muslim women. She creates humorous videos advertising her products and showing how they can be styled to an audience of over 14,000 followers. This past Ramadan, a pop-up store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States ordered 50 pieces of the Amirabody. The bodysuits sold out immediately.

The first RUUK wholesale reinforced the demand for fashionable modest-wear and confirmed that there was a definite gap in the market. The bodysuit's product development is customer-based.

Tawil incorporates any feedback she receives, whether it be sizing, color, or cut, into each new batch so that she continually improves her products. Currently, there are long-sleeve and sleeveless options available in neutral tones, such as “buttermilk” and “dusty rose.”

The bodysuits produced locally in Jordan, are available for worldwide shipping. (Photo: Handout from Alizar Tawil)

The pandemic hasn't slowed work down for the entrepreneur either. She described the crisis as "the best timing” for her business.

Before COVID-19, Tawil was juggling a full-time job while raising three boys. When the pandemic began, "my prayer was answered, and now I have all the time that I need. So I used that to accelerate my business, and it was during that time that I built the website,” she explained. “I started getting feedback for the original design. I modified it, and I created another design. So for me, it was actually really great timing."

Tawil also decided to keep things local by partnering with local streetwear brand Jobedu to manufacture the bodysuits, which she in turn sells straight out of a studio in her house.

When asked where she sees herself and her business in five years, she hopes to gain a deeper foothold in the North American and European markets, and of course, move her office out of her house.

"With RUUQ, I don't consider it work: I consider it this thing that I do,” she said.

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