Horizon West entrepreneur makes fashion statement

Lisa Vogl's online store, Verona, has grown exponentially in the last year. Now, she has her first retail location at Orlando Fashion Square Mall.


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  • | 4:45 p.m. June 3, 2016
Verona owner and founder Lisa Vogl recently opened her first retail location at Orlando Fashion Square Mall.
Verona owner and founder Lisa Vogl recently opened her first retail location at Orlando Fashion Square Mall.
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Walking in to Horizon West resident Lisa Vogl’s store Verona in Orlando Fashion Square Mall, customers are greeted with a sleek, organized, black-and-white layout.

A variety of sleeved maxi dresses — white, pink, black and blue — are neatly organized on racks, while an array of hijabs in all the colors and patterns of the rainbow are arranged on a table and hanging on the walls.

Verona, a store that centers on modest clothing, is Vogl’s brainchild that stemmed from two of her passions: fashion photography and her Islamic faith.

 

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Six years ago, Vogl was enrolled in photography school with a desire to break into the fashion-photography industry. However, she had just converted to Islam and began to see it as a sort of roadblock on her journey to the world of fashion photography.

“I felt like I wasn’t fulfilling my moral obligations to promote modesty, and that’s when I discovered the world of modest fashion, which I didn’t even know existed,” she said.  

She started working with prominent fashion bloggers, as well as with Islamic clothing brands, getting to know the business. It was then that she and her business partner, Nadine Abu-Jubara, decided to open the online Verona Collection — named for one of the fashion capitals of the world — in February 2015. The pair, along with friend Alaa Ammuss, design the clothes and athletic wear.

Business took off faster than the pair had expected. They were shipping worldwide, and demand from European customers in particular grew so much that they opened a European division.

After seeing Verona’s online success, the pair decided it was time to branch out and open the Fashion Square location.

 

MODEST MOVEMENT

Verona’s clientele is typically of the Muslim community, but Vogl said modesty is for anyone. For her, she feels that dressing modestly is more of a feminist movement.

“When you see anything in the media about women, they’re objectified and used to sell products, and to me that’s oppression,” she said. “This is liberating, and I feel like it’s allowing me to choose what I want people to see.”

Some stereotypes peg Muslim women as oppressed, and these misconceptions of women’s rights and roles are exactly what Vogl hopes to debunk.

“When people start to see we’re just like everybody else, it begins to combat that,” she said. “We’re sitting here promoting (modesty) ourselves; we’re independent women; we’re clearly not oppressed.”

 

GROWING INDUSTRY

Vogl isn’t the only one taking an interest in the trend of modest clothing and Islamic-inspired fashion. According to Forbes, in a study co-commissioned by Reuters, Muslims spent $266 billion on clothing in 2013. That number is projected to double by 2019. Additionally, Fortune called Muslim women the “next big untapped fashion market.”

Vogl already is planning for expansion. She hopes to open another Verona retail location in London or Paris  next, and customers have requested more locations in other parts of the country. 

But for Vogl, one of the most rewarding parts of owning and running Verona is seeing the confidence grow in women who choose to wear the hijab.

“People think we don’t want to (wear the hijab), but we do,” she said. “Giving people the confidence to wear a hijab and not care what people think of them — that’s rewarding.”

 

Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].

 

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