I have only been a part of Kaamilah for about a year, bringing in my “The Reminder Series” line of quirky, humorous Islamic cards and prints. But Kaamilah began much earlier. When Farheen Khan took over her mother’s successful wedding decoration business to re-model the space into a unique Islamic retail shop, little did she know that she was pioneering a concept that would go viral among Muslimah start-ups in the Greater Toronto Area. It was in September 2013 that Kaamilah – an inspiring entrepreneurial venture, with a twist – came fully into being. Within a class of its own, Kaamilah – which translates as ‘complete’ in Arabic – stands out with its pretty interiors, unique products and ever-friendly staff.
About two years ago, Farheen, mum of three, homeschooler and the owner of The Craft Souk (an Islamic stationery brand) got together with other enterprising Muslimahs who shared her enthusiasm and zeal to set up a first of its kind, cooperative retail shop in Toronto.
Her main impetus was to establish the basic groundwork for small business owners who lacked the resources and steep overheads to set up a stand-alone shop of their own.The idea was to help serve as a vehicle to showcase talent and creativity within budding Muslimah entrepreneurs, through collaboration and task-sharing.
The present group of Kaamilah sisters gets together on a regular basis, to constantly build, motivate and tackle each other’s entrepreneurial challenges. “Kaamilah epitomises teamwork, passion, empowerment and talent. It is very much a family, and each one of us does whatever we can to help each other,” explains Farheen.
An important aspect that makes Kaamilah exclusive is its cooperative model that makes it possible to market jointly, while giving a group of Muslimah businesswomen individual identities.
The shop has filled a cavernous gap for Muslim families in the Greater Toronto Area by providing a wide range of high-end, local and handmade products that are now well within their reach.
Today, the store is host to an eclectic assortment of 14 different vendors. Products range from handmade arts and crafts, Islamic gifts, natural bath and body products, halal confectioneries and various modest fashion options.
“We focus heavily on trying to provide a unique and customised experience to each one of our guests. Our Muslim name prints that can be tailored as per individual requests are very popular as newborn baby gifts, while our coffee mugs with their matchless captions or artwork are something that you will not find elsewhere,” says Farheen.
“The bath and body products at our store are made of handpicked ingredients and are chemical-free, to make you smell great and feel fresh, minus the toxins!” she continued.
Kaamilah is also host to several Muslimah get-togethers, bridal shower events, movie nights, potluck lunches, kids’ classes/events and Henna parties. Through these regular workshops, the store has become a hub for Muslim families to connect and socialise in a friendly, Islamic setting.
“The community reaction to the boutique has been ecstatic and overwhelming. Kaamilah-goers are all praising the intrinsic potential and the creativity of the in-house business vendors. It is gratifying, heartfelt, touching and extremely rewarding all at the same time!” exclaims Farheen.
The next steps
After a resounding success with its physical store, Kaamilah has branched out into the e-commerce domain through their online store. With affordable shipping rates, Kaamilah Online hopes to make accessible many of their popular and in-demand products to visitors from all parts of the world.
“We want to share our vision, our love for handmade products, our conviction as small business owners and the beautiful spirit of Islam through Kaamilah, globally!” says Farheen. “Personally I could never have imagined this is where I would end up; becoming a part of an amazing group of sisters, who work for each other like they would for themselves. I know it would be hard, if not impossible, for us to do any of this by ourselves, and I am grateful for this opportunity every day! We each have our skill sets, our light; but together we shine the brightest!”concludes Farheen.
At present, Kaamilah boasts exquisite products from over a dozen Canadian businesses, including The Craft Souk, The Olive Tree Soap Company, HafsaCreates, TASSOU, SmoreTreats, Kashkha Canada, The Reminder Series, Firdous Books, Basra Pearls, Arwa’s, N&S Fashions, Mahal UlJannah, Noor.XO Kaftans, and Kids With Voice.
Visit Kaamilah boutique at 3031 Markham Road, Unit 32, Toronto, ON, and now online at kaamilahonline.com
Hafsa Khizer is the founder of The Reminder Series – a collection of snarky cards, prints and original handmade art. She is also the owner of Hafsa Khizer Design and Creative Photography and runs “Traumatic Stains”. She can be found at www.hafsakhizer.com.
She has been recognised in numerous online and print magazines, and hundreds of her pieces have been sold to date. She works heavily on concept creation and creative strategy.