Anyone looking for an Eid card to celebrate the end of Ramadan would be out of luck, if it wasn’t for a number of Islamic lifestyle stores recently popping up around town.Among them is the Salam Shop, a small boutique situated in a large strip mall on the outskirts of Mississauga, which is tapping into the growing niche market.Sudduf Wyne, an engineer turned entrepreneur, opened the store in February, in the hopes of promoting the “beauty that exists within Islam.” But there’s another more practical goal: to cater to young Muslims looking for lifestyle products as a way to celebrate and normalize their faith.
“When I was growing up, I always felt there was a void in terms of cool Muslim stuff,” said Wyne, as she sits on a mint-coloured sofa in the store. A wall of Islamic art and prints are on the wall behind her, each handcrafted by a local artist. “There were always items for Christmas and Easter, but we could never find cards for Eid or even something simple like a key chain with my name on it,” she said.
“And as I got older, I realized there was this generation of Canadian Muslims who wanted to celebrate their religion but in a more modern way,” said Wyne, who also launched the online store a few weeks ago, and has had orders from as far away as Dubai and Malaysia.
The Salam Shop is one of a number of Islamic lifestyle stores that have recently arrived in the GTA. Kaamilah Boutique, located in Markham was the original in the GTA, opening in 2013 co-op style, allowing business owners to sell their handmade goods from customized coffee mugs, to organic soaps. Last year, Sameer Aziz and his wife, Nafiza, launched Modah, which has been dubbed the first Islamic department store in Mississauga.
Just shy of the one-year mark, Aziz said the store hit $300,000 in sales and surpassed 30,000 transactions after a busy weekend of sales due to the upcoming Eid holiday.“There has been an overwhelming demand from the community,” he said, which has been bolstered through social media and word of mouth.We follow the trends in home décor,” said Wyne. “It’s not just the word ‘Allah’ thrown onto something,” she said. “Everything is carefully thought out, pieces that are unique and you want to display in your home or give to others.”
She thinks it is simply a matter of time before some of these products will make their way into the mainstream market.“It would be so great if these products were just available at the mall,” she said. “And to be honest, I often wonder, why aren’t some of these great products out there?”The Islamic lifestyle stores also frequently become community hubs, said Wyne, who has hosted paint nights, book club meetings, and a spa day at her store.
Recently, Wyne was surprised to find her social media savvy store afforded another designation: tourist destination.“We had visitors from England and South America who came in, and said this was on their list of places to see in Canada,” she said. “I was like ‘What? I am literally in bed when I am posting on Instagram about my shop.’”