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Refugee family launches local fashion business

20 February 20240 comments

An Afghan refugee family have launched a new business in Melbourne selling traditional Afghan and Middle Eastern women’s clothing.

The shop, called Afghan Luxury Collection’ recently opened in the Sunshine Plaza, in Melbourne’s west and is already attracting a loyal clientele.

Nadir Ahsan and his family arrived from Pakistan two years ago. They had earlier fled their home in the Afghan capital Kabul when the Taliban took control seven months earlier.

Having run similar businesses in Kabul, it was just a matter of time before they again became entrepreneurs.

“We had experience in running fashion businesses in Afghanistan and connections into the industry, so it so it was just a matter of sourcing the goods,” Nadir said.

“The other challenge was finding place to establish the business. I found this place in the Sunshine plaza and we signed a three month temporary contract. We have just extended that for six months,” he said.

Nadir has worked in construction since arriving and he harnessed the knowledge of his Afghan friends who had started the businesses for which he worked to help launch his own enterprise.

“My Afghan friends in the construction business supported me to establish the business. They explained things like GST and insurance,” he said.

“We saw an opening for the business. Afghan people couldn’t buy traditional clothing locally. So, we opened the shop and it’s going well.

Nadir’s aunt Sohaila Samadi, who helps to run the shop, say the business stocks a range of women’s clothing.

“There are wedding and engagement dresses as well as clothing suitable for a range of events and occasions,” Sohaila said.

Nadir’s mother Muslima Samadi said the local Afghan and Middle Eastern community had embraced the business.

“We have customers from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and across the Middle East,” she said.

“We have spread the word about our business in the local community and we promoted it on social media,” Muslima said.

The family – Nadir, Sohaila, Muslima and his sister and brother – live locally in Sunshine and say they have settled well into the local community.

“We arrived in Australia and went into quarantine in Darwin for two weeks during the pandemic. But then we came to Melbourne because we spoke to people and it seemed the best place for our lives and for business,” Nadir said.

“There were challenges at first but we were supported by AMES Australia and now we have settled well in Sunshine,” he said.