Balkees Flhair Salon offers a safe and inclusive space for women with hijab-friendly services.
For a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, finding a hair salon that caters to her needs can be a frustrating and isolating experience. Too often, she must either compromise her religious beliefs or feel like an outsider.
But that will soon change.
Balkees Flhair Salon, located in 562 Water St. opened its doors to provide a safe and inclusive space for hijabi women to access hair and makeup services.
The hijab is a headscarf worn by many Muslim women as a sign of modesty and religious observance. It covers the hair, neck and sometimes the chest. While wearing one is a personal choice, a woman cannot remove a hijab in a male’s presence, unless that male is her father, husband or brother.
Balkees Alammouri, the owner of the salon, made it her mission to create a safe and inclusive space for all women, regardless of their religion or background. The windows have black curtains and there is space for children to play.
As a woman who wears the hijab herself, she understands the challenges that hijabi women face when it comes to finding a salon.
“I wanted to create a place I didn’t have when I came here, a place where Muslim women can feel comfortable and at home.”
When Alammouri got married in St. John’s, finding a hijab-friendly salon was a challenge.
“I couldn’t find any women’s salon that provides a private space for a few hours,” she said. “My friend had to do my hair at home at the [very] last minute.”
The struggle to find a hijab-friendly salon is not unique to Alammouri.
Yusra Altaf, originally from Karachi, Pakistan, says the hijab is a part of her identity.
“It’s not just a piece of fabric. It’s like an organ”, said Altaf.
She says wearing the hijab shouldn’t prevent her from doing regular things that women do, and she wants to feel included.
Altaf says going to the salon can be a “daunting experience.”
“When I call local salons asking, ‘How many female staff you have today?’, the conversation gets awkward.”
As the number of immigrants is increasing, many women are facing similar challenges across the island. This lack of accommodation for hijabi women can make them feel invisible and uncomfortable.
“Representation matters,” said Altaf. “Businesses don’t have to change for us. Just adding an extra space or a cubicle for hijabi customers would mean so much.”
Alammouri’s new salon has several beauty services for women such as haircuts, colouring, styling and makeup just like all salons. But at this location, the curtains will be drawn, and her clients can breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s a beautiful reminder that compromise shouldn’t be the price of beauty.Yusra Altaf
Establishments such as Balkees Flhair Salon are more than just a place to get one’s hair done. They put meaning to empty words such as diversity and inclusion.
“To me, it’s a symbol of acceptance in the community,” said Alammouri.
Although it has come from a personal place, the salon welcomes all women across the province regardless of their backgrounds.
A hijab-friendly hair salon in St. John’s comes with a glimmer of hope for women who no longer have to choose between their faith and their personal grooming.
As Altaf puts it, “It’s a beautiful reminder that compromise shouldn’t be the price of beauty.”