Ali & Huda TV.

Muslim Moms Turn Talents into Business

Yes, We Can!

Women who choose to be stay-at-home moms often put their own passions, talents, and skills on hold for a few to several years, depending on how many children they have.

It can be a bit frustrating when the demands of child care and homemaking consume nearly every moment of the day, as often happens when children are young.  Many mothers long for the day they can, once again, invest time and energy into the activities they love, such as the career they put on hold, the hobby they haven’t had time to pursue, or the special talent that has been lying dormant.

For those moms who feel like their time to shine again will never come, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Hana Khatib and Shaylene Haswarey are two Muslim moms from the U.S. who have made it through the trenches of raising numerous babies (five for Shaylene, four for Hana) and finally are able to invest in their own dreams.

Now that all their children are past the toddler phase, Hana and Shaylene have been able to embark on ventures that are deeply fulfilling  to them, as well as helpful to the community at large.  Furthermore, they are representing Islam in a positive light as visibly Muslim women making extraordinary contributions.

First story: Shaylene Haswarey

Shaylene Haswarey, who has loved jumping rope since before Kindergarten, has been practicing the sport for 26 years.  When she moved to Oregon with her husband and kids, she noticed that there weren’t many jump rope teams on the West Coast.   She had been on her school’s speed team in Idaho and was a very competitive jumper.  She began to think there was a niche for her favorite sport in her new home town.

At her kids’ elementary school, there were several after school sport activities, and Shaylene asked if she could teach a jump rope class.  The class was so successful that her business, “Jump Again!  Reintroducing Jump Rope to the 21st Century” was born.

Shaylene currently teaches during fall, winter, and spring.  She takes the summer months off so she can spend time with her own kids during vacation.   Each of Shaylene’s sessions has six one-hour classes where schoolchildren learn basic jump roping, jump rope tricks, double dutch, speed jumping, jump rope games, and jump rope dance routines.

On average, she spends three to five hours a week on her business, but the beginning of the season is uncommonly busy with phone calls and planning since she runs the business completely on her own.  “Once the classes start, “she says, “teaching them is fun and not stressful.”

Shaylene can do some very impressive moves with the jump rope, as this YouTube video attests.  .  Since she leads her classes fully covered and wearing a hijab, she is representing Islam for a whole generation of youngsters.

“I love knowing that when the kids get older, there is a possibility they’ll remember me,” she says.  “If anyone says anything weird about Islam, I’m hoping they’ll reply, ‘My jump rope teacher was Muslim, and I loved her.'”

While adults have frequently asked Shaylene to teach classes for them, right now she wants to stick with teaching kids because she enjoys the silliness and fun.  However, she believes that “the possibilities of expansion are endless, insha’Allah.”  Anyone interested in booking jump rope classes in the Oregon area can contact her by e-mail at [email protected]

The money that she earns has been an added bonus.  “The more students who sign up, the more money I can get,” she says.  “After I pay the gym fees, I get to pocket everything else, and it’s a great extra source of income, mashaAllah.  I admit most of my money goes for my kids, but I feel so good about it.  As for myself, if I want to buy a fancy dress, a nice pair of shoes, or a cute pair of ripped jeans, I don’t have to worry about my family budget.”

Second story: Hana Khatibdecide-commit-succeed

While making money is definitely one perk of running a business, Hana Khatib has decided, thus far, not to monetize her ventures, Pepper and Pine and Homeschooling for Muslims.  For Hana, the choice to share her unique and valuable ideas on YouTube videos  and her two websites (http://www.pepperandpine.com ) and Http://www.homeschoolingformuslims.com for free is completely about sharing her passion with others and having a creative outlet that nourishes herself.

After years of homeschooling her kids and running her household in a remarkably systematic and successful way, Hana realized she had constructed her own unique “homeschool lifestyle,” which includes home life, cooking, organization, and hobbies. Over the years, many of her friends have asked for her advice, trusted her guidance, and copied her successful strategies.

One friend in particular really inspired her to go public with her brainchild.  She explains, “My friend Shahnila has been gently nudging me for years to start a blog.  When I finally started, I felt a YouTube channel was the best medium for me, but I also maintain my website with additional information and pictures, in addition to the channel.”

On Pepper and Pine, viewers can learn about a variety of useful homeschooling tips (curriculum choices, unit studies, crafting ideas, scrapbooking, and supplies) as well as life skills, like how to forage for local edible plants, how to weave pine needle baskets, and how to make handmade paper. There are also a wide array of recipes that run the gamut from vegan date balls to Persian rice.  Helpful videos show exactly how to prepare each dish.

As if that is not enough, Hana launched another channel dedicated to her Muslim audience.  “Homeschooling for Muslims is a place to share everything that is ‘Islamic inspired,’ explains Hana.  “It’s very dear to my heart.”  One of her most popular videos can be found here https://youtu.be/zGweqzyUddM.

“Once I start something,” says Hana, “I have a strong desire to finish it.  You can’t exactly finish something that is ongoing, so the hardest part is stopping!”

Hana dedicates a great deal of time to making her informative videos.  Much of her free time is spent on improving and enhancing Pepper and Pine, and she also modifies her homeschooling routine with the three youngest of her four children so that she can video record much of it.  That means checking the lighting, making sure the final product is useful to other homeschoolers, and occasionally redoing projects for the sake of the videos.  She says her children are invaluable and cheerful helpers in the process.

Pepper and Pine has been a tremendous success amongst the homeschooling community.  Hana already has numerous followers YouTube, and her sites’ popularity continues to grow at a quick pace. It is really remarkable how she has taken her natural abilities of design, organization, education, parenting, and crafting and made a living portfolio for the world to share.   “The most rewarding part,” says Hana, “is when someone comments on a video, photo, or blog post to say I’ve inspired them, or to thank me for doing what I’m doing.”


About Laura El Alam
For the past decade, Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to numerous Islamic publications. Her articles have been published in SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, About Islam, and Muslim Matters. Her Facebook Page,  The Common Sense Convert, offers advice, support, and education for Muslim women, particularly new converts.