Job Title: Founder, CEO and designer, Afflatus Hijab
Why She’s Top 40: She designs clothing for an underserved market and uses her brand to promote mental health.
After six and a half years talking about mental health with elementary and junior high school students, Wedad Amiri left a fulfilling job as the community resource coordinator for Family and Community Support Services in the City of St. Albert to focus on her clothing line, Afflatus Hijab. Amiri designs modest yet stylish and contemporary clothing suitable for those with religious or other dress codes.
“Ever since I was nine [and decided to wear a hijab] I have been on this ongoing journey to make sure people feel accepted and feel like they belong, regardless of what they believe in or how they dress,” Amiri says. “Don’t be so stressed about what Muslim women look like. We come in all different forms. Many of us are doing great things.”
Her first fashion show in Edmonton in October 2014 was so popular that she sold out the entirety of her stock. She ships orders across Canada and in the United States, Europe and Asia, and her designs caught the eyes of the organizers of Maarkah Fashion Week – a fashion show for modest clothing which runs simultaneous to New York Fashion Week – who invited her to show a new collection on the runway in September 2018.
Amiri still makes educating others about mental health a priority. “When I started the company, I wanted to focus on empowering women and destigmatizing mental illness,” Amiri says. She has donated percentages of sales at certain events to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and recently had a line of eight pieces, each named after a woman who’s had mental-health issues. “I want people to talk about mental illness and get help and not worry about the stigma attached to it,” Amiri says. “I think people were surprised with the names of people they knew [in my campaigns] but the reality is everyone’s dealing with something. I’m a very structured person so I took a risk for the first time in my life, and [Afflatus Hijab] has grown more than I ever expected it to.”