The Barakah Beauty Collective: Building Community Through Sisterhood

by Nura Ahmed


Michaela Corning, founder and CEO of the Barakah Elegance Collective, has established a ladies-led, women-only natural beauty and wellness space specially for Muslim girls — the only a person of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Now an crucial hub for local community, therapeutic, and laughter, the road to founding Barakah Elegance Collective came with some unpredicted twists.

Corning was born in Jap Washington just before settling in Vashon Island shortly after. She was launched to Islam when she took a Center Eastern historical past class in high university when doing Managing Start off. She attended the College of Washington, graduating with two bachelor of arts levels in linguistics and Spanish. She turned intrigued by Islam following she graduated from her undergraduate scientific tests, which led her to conversion to Islam in 1999. “The Quran was a linguistic wonder,” she claimed. 

In 1999, with her new religion, she was also performing at her initial position following higher education. Shortly immediately after building the decision to transform — six months ahead of 9/11 — she started off putting on the hijab, only for her globe to improve the working day just after 9/11. “I did not even observe the news the working day of 9/11. It was only when I arrived again to function that future day that almost everything begun to transform for me,” she said. “I was only the white woman in the hijab. Now out of the blue I am that Muslim girl.” 

Corning begun her to start with occupation in company The united states in revenue and shopper companies shortly right after graduating from faculty in 1998, but not anyone took a liking to her. “No just one likes assertive females. Especially if you are an assertive Muslim woman,” she discussed. 

Beginning her company career although also wearing the hijab, it was hard for her to obtain garments that was modest and culturally acceptable ample to wear to work. In the early 2000s, modest trend possibilities for Muslim ladies were being constrained. This impressed her to begin her individual vogue brand name, Al-Andalus, concentrated on making modest outfits for Muslim women and other communities that prioritize modesty. 

In the early 2000s, Corning was the proprietor of a single of the number of modest vogue brands in the U.S. As an artist herself, she initially began offering outfits she made herself, and it was not till 2009 that she begun to import garments from Kuwait, a state with a combination of both westernized and Islamic design and style. “I questioned the men and women in Dubai where by they get their design and style from, and they reported they copied Kuwait,” Corning explained. 

At the time and even now, the typical representation for modest manner brand names tended to be slim 20-some thing Arab and white-passing Arab ladies. “I desired to beat this impression when I first commenced my companies,” Corning explained. 

She started off featuring underrepresented Muslim females in the manner business, which includes females who ended up more mature, as well as-measurement, Black Muslim women, and converts — individuals who normally are not witnessed as the idealistic variation of the Muslim lady. She applied her brand to fight the common impression of what a Muslim lady is, which a lot of modest style brand names have been and however are perpetuating. She noticed how it performed out in her have knowledge of becoming a white Muslim transform. “Islam is for every single society and people today. It doesn’t question us to transform who we are, as extensive as they are not in opposition to Islam,” Corning spelled out. She understood illustration mattered and built absolutely sure she uplifted Muslim gals who commonly really don’t get the highlight. 

In 2010, Al-Andalus opened a storefront in Greenwood — selecting young Muslim women from the local community. She hired women of all ages from all backgrounds and created confident the most underrepresented groups were being accounted for in her keep. She shut the keep in 2013 mainly because it turned far too a lot to cope with whilst also getting a entire-time career. “When the ladies listened to I closed the shop, they cried. Solely simply because they wanted to be in a Muslim area,” Corning said. 

In the meantime, Corning continued to perform in company The usa, pissed off at the false impression that outspoken, assertive Muslim ladies have been not satisfactory in the place of work. 

In 2017, continue to doing work at a corporate occupation, she made the decision to relaunch and rebrand her modest style enterprise below her have identify. She produced a put in which that old normal is abolished and that involves Muslim women whom that standard didn’t suit. Corning continued to do the get the job done she was carrying out no matter of what other people today assumed. “When you do what is right, the rest will definitely stick to,” Corning explained. 

Even so, income started to drop at the commencing of the pandemic in 2020. At the similar time, a close friend requested her to create masks for the Palestinan Community Heart of Washington State, and she made at the very least 2oo of them. Corning was frustrated at how inconvenient it was to be a hijab-sporting lady with the mask, which additional motivated her to develop the hijabi-helpful mask. 

Just after introducing her to start with hijabi-friendly masks, Corning’s model observed initial-month product sales of $6,000, and there was no indication of the demand slowing down. In the meantime, her corporate function environment grew significantly complicated to endure. The corporation she labored for claimed to price variety, which was not really the scenario: “They had been amazingly performative.” She ended up staying fired for staying assertive, not just about the inherent racism taking place there, but about quite a few other issues concerning the office, and she felt she was viewed as a threat due to the fact of it. 

In the course of this fallout at her career, she ongoing to make fantastic earnings from her on the net brand. It was then that she resolved to pour every thing she had into building her brand name what she desired it to be. By early January 2022, Corning desired a larger manufacturing area in buy to continue to keep up with demand from customers. But the area she finished up renting turned so significantly additional than what she experienced imagined. She had a dream: a females-led, gals-only beauty and wellness area close to the Northgate light-weight rail station. Which is when the Barakah Magnificence Collective was born. “It was a end result of 20 decades of staying Muslim, becoming in the community, serving the Muslim community, and in the company house, and possessing the modest vogue manufacturer,” Corning reported. 

This space is intended to convey females, especially Muslim women, from all above Washington, into a spot exactly where their privateness is revered, the place they are able to construct community and far more. It is a area in which Muslim gals from all backgrounds are in a position to construct a beautiful sisterhood. 

The Barakah Magnificence Collective presents expert services these types of as hair, make-up, apparel, holistic medication, massage, and cupping. Her modest manner boutique shares the collective space. Corning, along with 4 other Muslim females artists and business owners, co-do the job in the house and help their clientele separately even though developing neighborhood collectively. “Every working day, the girls who occur in this article both leave this room laughing or crying,” Corning reported. “It is meant to be a therapeutic space.”

Corning thinks this space can build large momentum for encouraging Muslim ladies and women all around to commit in them selves and in their skills. “It truly arrived collectively via Allah’s timing,” she said. “If I provide other ladies-owned companies in, then we can all reward with each other. We are stronger jointly.” 

Barakah Attractiveness Collective has hosted 10 situations since it opened in January 2022 and is internet hosting an Eid Henna social on July 7 and 8. Plans are in the functions to start a divorce guidance team for Muslim girls, as nicely as a regular convert social and guidance group. Moreover, it hosts a Muslim women in enterprise networking and coaching group. 

Barakah Natural beauty Collective is positioned at 540 NE Northgate Way Suite B, near the Northgate gentle rail station. Observe its Instagram account at @BarakahBeautyCollective to keep up to day on recent happenings.


Nura Ahmed is an organizer, writer, and artist centered in Seattle and South King County.

📸 Featured Picture: Michaela Corning, founder and CEO of the Barakah Attractiveness Collective, has developed a supportive space for women, in particular Muslim females. (Image: Michaela Corning)

Right before you go on to the following story …
Please think about that the write-up you just browse was created achievable by the generous money support of donors and sponsors. The Emerald is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet with the mission of offering a broader lens of our region’s most numerous, least affluent, and woefully beneath-documented communities. You should consider generating a 1-time reward or, far better however, joining our Rainmaker Relatives by getting a regular donor. Your help will support give fair pay for our journalists and empower them to continue on producing the significant tales that present applicable information, info, and evaluation. Aid the Emerald!