The observance of Ramadan brings a seasonal uptick in spending by British Muslims, who are growing in influence as consumers.
Britain’s Muslim community has a healthy purchasing power, reportedly between £20 and £30 billion annually. While mainstream brands are starting to latch on to the importance of the Muslim consumer, a lack of sophisticated offerings is creating pockets of opportunity for Islamic startups to step into the breach, many of them fronted by female founders.
One such business is luxury Islamic gifting service Mubarak London, created in 2015 by sisters Deena Miah and Shazida Ahmed, who have reinvented gifts and hampers for their customers. Unlike traditional luxury hampers, Mubarak London’s collections are backed by a “halal promise” which ensures that all products are appropriate for followers of the Islamic faith.
It’s a promise that is driving an upsurge in interest from Muslim and non-Muslim clients alike, including a growing roster of corporate businesses looking to treat their Muslim employees and clients. According to the latest figures, turnover has grown more than 50% year on year. And in a sign that gifting opportunities extend beyond the traditional festivals, Christmas has so far proved the busiest period for sales. “It’s evident that our halal brand gives buyers confidence and reassurance that the product they choose will be suitable for any Muslim consumer, along with our halal promise too,” cofounder Deena Miah tells JWT Intelligence.
The brand recently launched its 2018 ranges for Ramadan and Eid at London’s York and Albany restaurant, highlighting the luxurious and quirky brands that make up its curated collections. The Breakfast Hamper, for example, includes Cartwright & Butler strawberry preserve with 23-carat gold leaf, crystallised sugar sticks and Primrose’s Kitchen raw carrot, apple and cinnamon muesli.
The launch doubled as a networking event hosting several Muslim-owned businesses; the Date Parlour sources organic, fairly-traded dates from small-scale farms in Palestine, then covers them in Belgian chocolate, and Artist of Makeup is a beauty business founded by celebrity makeup artist, YouTuber and entrepreneur Zukreat Nazar.
Peace & Blessings is another small business filling a gap in the market, this time for design-led stationery and greetings cards dedicated to non-mainstream festivals as well as Islamic pilgrimages like Hajj and Umrah. Founder Zakera Kali explains that she created the brand after finding a dearth of products on the market for Muslims celebrating Eid.“It’s not the same. I don’t have anything like the same dazzling choice as I do at Christmas, and nor do my friends celebrating other cultural festivals like Hanukkah, Diwali or Chinese New Year,” she says. “It’s just not quite as special—but it should be. After some research, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who felt this gap, so I founded Peace & Blessings.”
Peace & Blessings is just one of a number of brands featured by department store John Lewis for Ramadan and Eid, showing that this growing market has not gone entirely unnoticed by mainstream retailers, although there’s still much that can be done.
Deena Miah explains that startups like hers are keen for closer collaboration with the high street and that they can be mutually beneficial. “We’ve seen John Lewis open its doors this year to new Ramadan and Eid shelf space at Westfield Stratford and Oxford Street and we want to see more big stores like these make an active dialogue with businesses like ours,” she says. “It’s a win-win. Smaller businesses get more exposure and big-name stores get more of this lucrative consumer market through the door.”