Inspired & motivated, two words that stuck with me from last weekend’s Muslim Lifestyle Expo held at Event City, Manchester, which brought together individuals from across the country and abroad. Being my first expo of any sort, I was excited with the thought of being introduced to a diverse group of people with new products, services and a muslim lifestyle which I may not have been exposed to before. But I also had my reservations in terms of what to expect; in the back of my mind I was thinking was it going to be lots of exhibitors with majority selling traditional garments and products, is there going to a good number of people attending, are the sellers going to be charging an arm and a leg for their goods; it’s fair to say all my doubts were wiped out when I got to the venue and saw the array of exhibits with products and services on offer.
Being an eager beaver we got to the event early as exhibitors were still putting final touches to their stalls and before the public were in full swing. First thoughts were, ‘Wow! this is big, there are a lot of organisations, businesses and exhibits here’. As we had an initial stroll around to get a feel for the place and to see what was on offer, it was apparent, there was going to be a lot to see and some interesting conversations to be had. Glancing at the stalls it was clear as to what was being offered at any particular station, but what was interesting is the diverse and innovative range of new products across the expo, halal alternatives to traditional products which until a few years ago we wouldn’t have seen.
Throughout the day we had the opportunity to have many insightful and charming conversations with individuals from all over the world from different parts of the UK as well as the US, Turkey, Malaysia, India etc. who set up many of these businesses and each with their own stories; maybe I will do a few blogs on some of them in the coming weeks. For some it was the first time their product or service was being offered to the public using the Expo as a launching platform and for others it was a new market to break into away from their home countries. It would be nice to speak about all the great conversations we had that day and the variety of products we saw, but that would be a long essay and i’m sure you wouldn’t want to read an essay! So here are a few of my favourites.
With modest fashion on the rise and high street brands taking the plunge into this market, Jubahsouq from Malaysia really stood out for us for their extensive range of modest yet stylish clothing for men, women and children. What was more impressive is that Jubahsouq was founded by two engineers and had I not spoken to them I would have assumed they were seasoned fashion designers.
Tamese & Jackson London, a brand of body & personal care products which is certified halal and suitable for vegetarians is everything you would want from high end products without all the negative aspects which sometimes are associated with them in terms of ingredients used, animal testing, use of alcohol etc. I was really happy to see products such as this certified as halal due to the use of no genetically modified ingredients or parabens as many a times we use products without knowing what was used to produce them. Speaking to the director it was clear that they were passionate about creating an alternative halal range of products without compromising on quality.
It wasn’t only consumer goods which was on offer, take Arakan Creative for example who are an award winning theatre company which produces material for positive change and specialising in stories from the Islamic world, as well as touching on issues within the South Asian Community, the wider community and education. They have worked on a number of projects and at the expo two of their latest projects were being presented, one a feature film called ‘Freesia’ and the other a comic book which goes by the name of ‘The Abrahamix’.
Just a few other favourites of mine to mention to you briefly, just couldn’t do without mentioning which shows the diversification and entrepreneurship being created and harnessed within the Muslim community. MySisterhood, which is a low calorie halal meal replacement ideal for those who are conscious of their diets, Camelko which have a range of products made using camel milk, definitely refreshing when I tried some. Nuhr who produce luxury home fragrance products and Elaara who have a fantastic range of greeting cards for all occasions. Finally Saa’i timepieces, who design some really elegant watches with a twist of Islamic art within them; they were so elegant in fact being a watch fan I had to grab one myself, the 8th one to be ever sold in fact.
So going back to what I initially started off with, why inspired and motivated, inspired because I saw individuals who have become entrepreneurial in creating new products, diversifying the old and producing alternatives to benefit the Muslim community which hopefully we can work towards. Seeing the passion of those which we met, is what motivates me and the team at MyMuslimMall.com to insha’Allah learn, develop and help muslim sellers and consumers so that everyone can live a good Islamic lifestyle.