Friends of mine might have already known of Kalthom Hijab for a while, but I’ve never written the story behind it on a public platform.

For the past week, it’s become my family’s post-dinner routine to continue working for an upcoming event. As I wrote down the labels for our shawls, I glanced over to my mum. She finished a whole day’s work at the clinic, made dinner, and was now in silent concentration, folding the scarves into their boxes. And then there’s my dad. Tirelessly working on our display racks, carrying the load of metal, commuting here and there for supplies.

Looking at them, I remember thinking.. it’s time for a proper introduction.

A Brief Introduction

Kalthom Hijab a small tudung/shawl label that was started by my sister, my cousin, my mum and I. We started designing and selling to family and friends, and have participated in various booths/pop up stores. We discovered joy in creating shawls to celebrate the wearer and alhamdulillah, with the encouragement of our customers, we’ve managed to continue till today!

Why Kalthom Hijab? Who is she?

A question I get too often. Our label is named after my late grandmother, Hajjah Kalthom. It was my cousin’s idea, and it made perfect sense. It was a reflection of our bond by blood (daughter/grandmother), and her loving memory. The exemplary woman that she is, her meticulousness, her perseverance, her grace… all became what we envision the wearer to be, and of course, is what we strive for in our work.

My late grandmother (far left) at my mother’s graduation.

Our shawls are not mass-produced and we have a close connection to our customers. They’ve become our friends, and I feel it makes this whole journey special. We don’t believe in unethical practices, so we handpick our local tailors to ensure good quality – and also support other businesses! I’m talking about stay at home mothers who are earning a side income, single mothers… so in a way, your purchase of our scarves are helping them too.

The coolest part about Kalthom Hijab to me is that we get to create something we love.  For example, we knew we wanted to incorporate Batik designs from the beginning, as all of us are huge fans of it! And so, the Batika range was born – scarves with hand drawn batik canting, in an array of modern and classic designs.

batika shawl

Our friends turned models messing about with the Batik shawls

The Future

As part of my 2018 goals, I’m thinking of revamping how we do things. It’s been keeping me up at night this past month – I want so much, but it’s a challenge to work within our limitations.

We don’t aim to be the next Naelofar or whatever. That was never the plan. Currently, we have a small, yet very loyal following. Some even from Brunei! Of course, we’d love to see that number grow, and collaborate with others so that we can provide our customers better.

I ran a recent poll on our instagram page and found out that most of our followers would prefer buying through a website, as opposed to messaging us. That’s something I have to consider. To be honest, I don’t think we have the numbers for it (sobs) but I hate feeling like our customers are not getting what they deserve!

So To End This…

I want people to realize that when they support small businesses, they’re supporting a dream. Writing this was a way for me to paint some of the faces and stories behind the shawls. Trust me, there are a lot more people who have contributed to us being here today. We hope you know that we appreciate you, especially those who were with us from the beginning.

Flatlays were an occupational hazard


Our first models! Love this fun bunch.

Thank you for reading! And if you can, please say a prayer for my late grandmother. Al-Fatihah.


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