MN Memory: Fatimah Hussein

Founding CEO of Asiya Modest Activewear on Minnesota winters

An illustrated portrait of Fatimah Hussein.

illustration by kelsey king

When I moved with my family from Mogadishu, Somalia, to Minneapolis at age 6, the only snow we had ever seen was the snow in the fridge. So, we had a hard time adapting. My mom didn’t drive, so I would walk with her to the store, and the first time we did this in winter, I remember thinking, “Oh, my god! What happened?” It wasn’t frostbite, but I could feel the cold deep in my hands and feet.

My mom started layering me up: two sweaters, three pairs of pants with jeans on top, two scarves, and the only thing I would take off when I got to school, at Kenny Elementary in Minneapolis, was my jacket. I was very active, but in P.E. class, with everything I had on, I couldn’t run—it was a struggle to even walk. When we tested our physical abilities, my scores were horrible.

It took about two years for my mom to get better at this. She finally understood that we needed snow pants. We had been looking at what other people were wearing, but you never think they’re wearing pants specially for snow—you just think they have a lot of layers on. Today, I do light layering for my two kids, and to this day, my mom tells me to layer them more. I’m like, “I’m layering them a different way, Mom.” But here’s the thing: When we came to Minnesota, nobody told us anything about how to dress for snow.

Fatimah Hussein is the founding CEO of Minneapolis-based Asiya Modest Activewear, which provides sports hijabs to girls.

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