December 1, 2021

Face masks get a cultural makeover by Kurdish founder

Huda Hassan started a clothing brand during the COVID-19 pandemic, turning the Kurdish cultural identity into an international trend. With her brand, Jamana, she is building a supportive ecosystem between other Kurdish, women-led startups.

Wanting to bring cultural, Kurdish designs to modern daywear, 23-year-old Huda founded Jamanaa on Instagram in 2020. “We sell collection wear, branded with the Kurdish ‘Jamanaa’, which is a special headband worn by men with traditional Kurdish clothes”, she explains. “The Jamanaa comes in two colours: red and black. These colours make everyone from the region feel included.”

In 2019, Huda was part of SPARK’s Networks for Change programme, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which encourages youth inclusion in social and political issues by providing an intensive 10-month campaign training that tackles radicalisation and polarisation in the Kurdish community. 

Huda uses her skills in digital campaigning, marketing, media, filmmaking and photography to elevate her company. “I am implementing successful campaigns that put my business on the map,” says Huda.

Huda (second from right) and her fellow campaigners during entrepreneurship training, Networks of Change programme © 2020, SPARK

During an event to support small local businesses in December 2020, the Governor of Sulaymaniyah purchased one of Huda’s designs. Now he, news reporters, local celebrities and even the Deputy Prime Minister are sporting Jamanaa clothing and accessories in front of the camera and on social media.

Dr. Haval Abubakir, Governor of Sulaymaniyah, purchasing Jamanaa waistcoat and mask © 2020, Jumanaa
Kurdish popstar and activist, Dashni Murad, wearing the Jamanaa mask © 2020, Jumanaa
TV presenter for K24 wearing the Jumanaa waitcoat

Huda is not all about sales however, she wants her brand to also be about community. Huda’s video campaign for International Women’s Day featured several successful women from different fields, all showing support to their fellow women in business.

Now, Huda plans to expand her business with a new line of products as part of her community strategy. Ultimately, she wants to hire and involve more young people. Huda says the Networks of Change programme opened her to new ideas and opportunities.

“SPARK was one of the supportive communities that, besides teaching me new skills, inspired me to take the initiative to influence others, create more job opportunities and contribute to the socio-economic status of our community,” says Huda.