Arshiya has worn hijab for nearly a decade, but has always struggled to find one that she felt comfortable in while being active. She used to wear homemade bandanas as a makeshift hijab, but quickly found that they were not effective for rigorous or long workouts. She was yearning for a product designed by someone who understands her needs as a woman who wears hijab. In the world of 2-day-shipping and smart-everything, she wanted something that was easily-available, high-quality, versatile, and contemporary. She wanted to be able to run, hike and bike without the anxiety about what to wear. This prompted her to start Sukoon, a brand that introduces high-quality active-wear that provides coverage while also being breathable, dry-wicking, comfortable, and on-trend.
This interview was conducted by Slant’d Mag, an annual print magazine that celebrates Asian American culture.
What inspired you to start Sukoon Active?
I started running competitively a few years ago and I couldn’t find an active-wear hijab that
Would provide coverage while also being dry-wicking, comfortable, and on-trend, so I wore a bandana. During my first long race, it fell off a few miles in. I started working on my first Sukoon prototypes shortly after that experience.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of running your own business? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part is being my own cheerleader, There’s always more to know, more that can be improved upon, and more milestones to plan for and achieve. This cycle of “more” can make me feel like an imposter in my own space. I recently started jotting down each day’s “highs and lows” in a journal before going to bed and it’s helped me celebrate and learn from each day’s little victories and challenges.
The most rewarding part is seeing something that was in your head come to life. It’s taken two years to conceptualize, prototype, iterate, and build. We had our first photoshoot last week and seeing our whole collection in action was surreal. No matter what happens in the future, i will always have the memory of that day and the feeling of pride that came with it.
How does being Asian American influence the work that you do?
As a woman, as a Muslim, as an American, as a daughter of immigrants from India, as a woman who wears hijab, building a platform like Sukoon feels like a dream come true. My business advocates for inclusivity, access, options, and a broader understanding of wellness. The diversity of my identities is deeply intertwined with my ability to build a relatable and authentic platform that empowers women from diverse backgrounds.
What advice would you give to other Asian Americans who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?
Someone once asked me, “In ten years, if Sukoon will have failed, do you want it to be because you didn’t put your all into it or because it really didn’t work?” It still took me a few months after that to decide to pursue Sukoon full-time, but it was the driving force behind my decision. I would pay that advice forward to any aspiring entrepreneurs.