Faaezah Qureshi of Elaara
Entrepreneur Faaezah Qureshi explains how she has tapped into the trillion dollar Muslim lifestyle market with her Islamic greeting cards business Elaara.
After struggling to find greeting cards that catered for the Muslim population, mother-of-two Faaezah Qureshi saw a huge gap in the market and launched her own greeting cards business with an aim to produce modern and contemporary cards for all Islamic occasions.
She started off selling her cards at local charity events but after realising just how much demand there was for her products, decided to invest all of her time and effort into the business.
“Prior to starting the business, I had a legal background working as a personal injury case consultant in the motor insurance industry for over 12 years,” she told BQ.
“After struggling to find cards that catered for my Muslim family and friends I decided to create my own range of greeting cards for all Muslims who are part of and love the British card-giving culture.
“I started off selling the cards for local charity events and after receiving such a fantastic response I decided to take it nationally.”
Launching a business is always a challenge and for Faaezah it was no different. Luckily, she was able to tap into support to help her turn the idea into a reality.
She adds: “I attended business courses and workshops which gave me an insight on how to set up and run a business. I created a business plan which is a great way to set out all your goals and objectives.”
Elaara Islamic Greeting Cards’ USP is that its cards are created to empower Muslims to celebrate their special moments without compromising their religious values. Also 10% of all sale proceeds (before profit) are donated to different UK registered charities.
“I always envied doctors and people in the charity sector for holding positions that are so rewarding and gives them a sense of accomplishment in life,” she said.
“By donating a small percentage of the business to charity, it allowed me to make a positive contribution to the world we live in too.
“More importantly my faith teaches me to be charitable and give to those less fortunate which was a contributing factor.
“I think it’s extremely important that other businesses adopt such values too by giving back to communities and supporting causes that will ensure a better life for everyone.”
The Muslim lifestyle sector is estimated to be worth about £1.5tn worldwide annually and is set to increase at a rate of £4bn a year – and Faaezah is hoping to really tap into this growing market.
“I think the future is big for Muslim brands and big corporations are now tapping into this market,” she added. “Examples include Marks and Spencer who launched its burkini line and also Tesco who have introduced halal meet into their food aisles.
“Research has shown that when it comes to spending, 90% of Muslim consumers are influenced by their faith. Therefore, if businesses start catering to the needs of the 1.6 billion Muslim population it can only be a win win situation for all.”
And as well as tapping into the global demand for Islamic lifestyle products, Faaezah is also determined to support the local economy, which is why all of her cards are produced locally.
“The advantage of producing locally is that new trade partnerships are established and money is being used and kept within the UK which helps boost our economy,” she said.
“If I use local suppliers it means their business benefits and it creates more opportunities and jobs for our people.
“Another benefit of choosing not to outsource means I am reducing my carbon footprint which otherwise would add to air pollution when importing good from abroad.
“Finally, the advantage of keeping manufacturing in the UK is that things are regulated and protect consumers when things go wrong.”
To date Faaezah has created over 250 quirky designs for a range of occasions including Eid, Ramadan and weddings since the company was formed in 2015. Popular ranges include ‘It’s All About The Beard’ and ‘Keep Calm I’m Muslim’ and she couldn’t be happier with how the company has grown.
Her products are now stocked in a number of independent stockists across the country including Bombay Stores which is the largest Asian department store in the UK, but Faaezah hopes 2017 will prove to be a real breakthrough year for the company.
“Within a short space of time Elaara has an international audience thanks to trade shows and exhibitions,” she said.
“The demand for different occasions has increased tremendously that there are over 250 products on the website from 60 when the business was launched.
“Elaara cards can now be bought at a number of outlets across the country including Bombay Stores which is the UK’s largest Asian department store.
“I have also been approached by a number of high street retailers and supermarkets so I look forward to how we can work together.”
Faaezah’s top tips for entrepreneurs: