Dolls in the handmade tiny hijabs aimed at raising "a kinder generation"

Story highlights

Proceeds will go to four Pittsburgh-based human rights groups

The moms hope to celebrate diversity and teach inclusiveness to the next generation

CNN  — 

When her 5-year-old daughter got glasses, Gisele Fetterman got her a doll that had glasses, too. It was important that her daughter, Grace, saw herself in her dolls, Fetterman said.

It’s that same intention that led the Pittsburgh-area mom to be sure Grace’s dolls reflect everyone.

“We make it a point to be very deliberate in her doll collection,” Fetterman said. “We want them to look like the world.” Her daughter has dolls from all over that reflect different racial backgrounds, she said. Grace even has a doll in a wheelchair.

But one day, Fetterman noticed Grace didn’t have any Muslim dolls. She asked her Muslim friend, Safaa Bokhari, if her daughter had any dolls with hijabs. She didn’t, but Bokhari loved the idea.

“I was happy,” said Bokhari, who lives in nearby Oakland. “I wanted to do that before, but because I’m not a citizen, I couldn’t do it.”

After enlisting the help of a local artist to make hijabs for Grace’s dolls, Fetterman and Bokhari decided to expand the project and sell the tiny hijab accessories to other parents looking to teach their children about diversity.

Grace, who is 5, with her dolls.

The result is Hello Hijab, an initiative that aims to highlight diversity and educate kids about the traditional headscarf and what it means to the Muslim women who wear it. “There’s a little card for each one that talks about our differences and how our differences bring us together,” Fetterman said.

“We need that in America,” Bokhari said. She’s faced discrimination for wearing her hijab. People stare, she said. Sometimes they call her names.

“People are doing that because they don’t know us,” she said. “This is just a piece of fabric. It doesn’t mean we’re aliens.”

For her, the Hello Hijab mission is about providing a better future for her daughter.

‘Raising a kinder generation’

Reflecting on the recent increase in hate crimes, Fetterman said the initiative has an important mission to teach her daughter and her peers about inclusiveness. “We wanted to find a gentle way to reach the children, so that we’re raising a kinder generation,” she said.

Bokhari was surprised by the support she found from the Muslim community. “They want that for their daughters also,” she said. “The Muslim community has made me feel supportive and strong now.”

With the help of two Muslim seamstresses, old hijabs will be repurposed and made into tiny ones, Fetterman said. The online shop opens April 1.

All the proceeds made from Hello Hijab will be donated to local organizations “doing important work for human rights,” Fetterman said. The groups include the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh chapter of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Pittsburgh.

Hello Hijab will be one of several projects under Fetterman’s volunteer-run nonprofit For Good. The group’s goal is to make Pittsburgh the kindest city in the country, Fetterman said.

“Hello Hijab believes that while we may look different and have different beliefs, our similarities far outweigh our differences,” wrote Fetterman along with the group’s co-founder, Kristen Michaels, on their website. “We strive for a world where we all live and love together.”

“I feel happiness really,” Bokhari said. “We didn’t sell any hijabs yet, but I feel that I’m starting a true thing.”

CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.