Melanie Elturk is the founder and CEO of Haute Hijab. A fashion icon whose passion for vintage scarves worn as hijab inspired her to start a successful brand for Muslim women. Her success is not limited to fashion exclusively but her ability to inspire young people to follow their dreams. Her legacy is simple and powerful: Find yourself and you will be unstoppable.
Oftentimes, our community tells us we must not ruffle too many feathers lest we invite jealousy or the “evil eye.” For some reason I never bought in to this way of thinking. It’s not the way my parents raised me. I never refrained from doing anything out of fear of bringing too much attention to myself that would warrant the “evil eye,” and as a result, I’ve never been afraid to be unapologetic about my core competencies and God-given gifts.
Our faith teaches us that humility is a virtue. We must be humble when calling upon our Lord (7:55), when walking on the earth (25:63) and with one another, so that no one wrongs another or boasts to another. That being said, we must not shy away from doing good works with the talents each of us have been blessed with in the name of humility. I don’t allow humility to hinder my ability to discern the gifts God has blessed me with, sharpen them and use them in order to serve God.
Starting at a very young age, my parents always nurtured my gifts. When I spent hours creating beaded necklaces, my Dad told me to make 15 of my best necklaces, take them to school as samples and sell them to my friends. When I told my Dad I was considering art school he told me to look into the field of law – not because he didn’t see the arts as a worthy career, but because he recognized my intellect and knew it would be a waste not to utilize it. I was always taught to be bold about my gifts – to sharpen them and use them for good.
That last piece, about using your gifts for good is really the key behind this philosophy. How do you put yourself out there using the gifts you’ve been gifted with while staying humble? How do you balance the fine line between confidence and arrogance? You do it by remembering where those gifts came from and why you’re exercising them. One crucial mantra I remind myself of daily is the fact that my talents and abilities came from God; that I’m blessed enough to be used as a vehicle to spread His truth; for change; for good. The second I attribute my gifts to anyone other than God (like myself), is the second humility has melted away and arrogance has reared its nasty head.
Remembering that these gifts exist in me for a divine purpose is the drive that keeps me going each day. It’s knowing that these gifts are a loan from God – and that I’m going to be asked about what I did with them one day. Did I use them to benefit society? To spread truth and goodness? Or did I stash them away in the name of humility?
I speak to audiences all around the world. One question I receive time and again is where my confidence comes from. It’s an issue many struggle with – particularly in our community where we’re taught to be “humble” and to keep a low profile. Confidence comes from knowing your strengths, working on your weaknesses, and using your gifts to serve God. Watch out for people who live this way – nothing will get in their way, or should I say my way.