Editor's Note: Melanie and HH recently hosted a Changemaker's event at The Social Loft, where the level of sisterhood and iman was, as Melanie says, off the charts. A lot of hard work goes into putting on these events, and the space and sisters who host us is so key to really elevating the spirit of sisterhood.
Most often we are in the homes of our fellow sisters in Islam, and they go above and beyond to host these events. This last Changemakers, however, was held at The Social Loft, a co-working space in Michigan. Our former HH writer Nargis Rahman wrote this story about The Social Loft and the beautiful Muslimahs behind this shared space.
Sisters Aliyah, Taqwa, and Laila Mahdi were looking for an all women’s space to work during the pandemic. There weren’t any, so they pooled their resources together to create The Social Loft
, a co-working space in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Aliyah usually checks people in as they come to register for a membership or rent a room for a party, like their studio A room. She’s one of three owners of this building created for people’s personal and professional needs like office spaces a gym and a mom room.
Melanie and the women who came out to The Social Loft for a Changemakers event.
"We kind of created the place in mind for like an all-in-one space for women to come to feel comfortable with and working together and networking (and) business," says Aliyah.
Aliyah is a mother of three, and before the pandemic she was an office manager who took a break from work when her son was born. When she wanted to return to work the pandemic hit. She realized she had to do something else.
Supporting New Business Ventures
Laila says that during the pandemic, she noticed a lot of people were opening new businesses , but many people did not have brick-and-mortar. Then in January 2021 an opportunity arose to purchase the building on Carpenter St. Aliyah says the sisters joined forces to purchase the building to create The Social Loft.
"We didn’t necessarily have the money, but we felt like this was a perfect opportunity. And we prayed on it. And things happen, you know, align… it happened the way it was supposed to happen," says Aliyah.
They opened their doors to the public in April 2021.
Laila is also a mother of three. She works at DTE as a customer advocate. She says people needed a quiet space outside of their homes to get their work done during the pandemic while maintaining social distancing.
"That was difficult on a lot of people, a lot of mothers, wives, friends, whatever to be stuck in the house all the time, mentally, even so, we just really wanted to still be able to create something during the pandemic where people felt like they had an outlet."
We are Muslim. We grew up in an Islamic environment. We grew up in Islamic schooling, and it was always separate, men on one side, women on the other side, So we wanted to continue to create a space with all mothers and stuff like that, that we can all feel comfortable and coming to and just working together.
Taqwa also knows all too well what that’s like. She’s a fashion designer and entrepreneur.
"I’m really passionate about business, community development, as well as uplifting people and being able to give back to the community," says Taqwa. It’s important for minority women to have a space to gather and where they can network and support one another, she adds.
"I really believe that it’s one way that we can really start really building up our communities a little bit more, keeping our money inside of the community," says Taqwa.
Melanie and one of the ladies at our recent Changemakers event at The Social Loft.
The Social Loft Creates a Space for Unique Needs
Taqwa says the sisters grew up organizing events at different locations over the years, but they always wanted their own space. Aliyah adds that part of the reason the sisters wanted to create this space was to give back to the community and honor their Islamic upbringing.
"We are Muslim. We grew up in an Islamic environment. We grew up in Islamic schooling, and it was always separate, men on one side, women on the other side," Aliyah explains. "So we wanted to continue to create a space with all mothers and stuff like that, that we can all feel comfortable and coming to and just working together."
Laila hopes people continue to support businesses like The Social Loft, spaces she says, "that are created specifically for women because at some point we probably didn’t have those spaces."
She hopes her kids look to her example as an entrepreneur and as an inspiration, and The Social Loft is something she can pass along to them.
Aliyah, Laila and Taqwa went from organizing events at different locations to opening The Social Loft for women to exercise, network and rest.
And in doing so, they created their own space to build community.
The full and original version of this article was published at WDET.