When three East London brothers started out in the world of business, they were throwing up makeshift stalls or using their car boot to sell perfumes to the capital’s residents. From those humble beginnings when Kazi Shafiqur, Kazi Abidur Rahman and Kazi Luthfur Rahman pooled their money to buy a set of fragrances to sell, the family has gone on to launch its own range with an expected turnover for their company of £ 10million in 2022.
Sunnamusk is highly rated by many for the range of perfumes, oils and home fragrances it sells as well as its clean and sleek branding. The business was started through the brothers combining resources in 2009 after the credit crunch and buckling down to make it work.
The Kazi family, who are originally from Bangladesh, have been a part of the east London fabric since their parents arrived in the capital in the 90s. Settling in Roman Road, the brothers were always interested in entrepreneurship and fragrances so combining their two loves was a natural progression. They put the £ 600 they had between them into buying a collection of Arabian-style fragrances.
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Speaking to MyLondon, CEO Kazi Abidur Rahman, who has taken a leading role in the business in recent years, spoke about watching his brothers create Sunnamusk. He said: “I’ve always been helping out ever since I was around 14. After my brother, Kazi Shafiqur, had bought some fragrances, we started selling them out of our car boot and a part-time market stall in Whitechapel. We would literally find any sort of trays, throw some velvet over a table and then start selling. “
In 2010 two of the brothers Kazi Abidur and Kazi Shafiqur got a permanent Whitechapel Market stall. They started to make around £ 500-600 a day which really showed the potential of Sunnamusk. In 2011 they got their big break and a big opportunity. The opening of Westfield Stratford meant there was a chance of setting up a proper kiosk, in one of the most recognizable shopping centers in the world.
“After opening our stall in Whitechapel, it really showed us that people loved Sunnamusk. Opening in Westfield was stressful as it was expensive to have to pay for the kiosk but we knew it was worth it. Our mum was also a big motivator as she continually told us to keep going and to take the Westfield opportunity. When we would go to Friday prayers, she would sometimes watch the kiosk for us “, Kazi continued.
After becoming one of the most recognizable kiosks in Westfield, Sunnamusk built on the success by opening a flagship store in Aldgate in 2013. Sunnamusk had now come from a Whitechapel stall to become one of the leaders in Arabian fragrances in London. As the years passed, Sunnamusk would open pop-up shops around places such as Ilford, Romford, and Lakeside as ways to continuously spread their brand.
One of the biggest changes for Sunnamusk came when the founder and then-CEO, Kazi Shafiqur decided to step down. This meant that Kazi Abidur became the CEO of what was now a multi-million-pound company. At the tender age of 23, Kazi Abidur was at the helm of his family business while also laying out plans to grow it even more.
He said: “I was always passionate about the business even from a young age. I was helping out with the stall from around 14 and even helped design the website. It was a lot of responsibility to manage the company with my family name attached to it but I was driven to make it a success. I had seen the business go from car boots to now having eight stores dotted around London. I was confident I could do a good job. “
Signature fragrances such as Golden Dust and Abid Ambre have made Sunnamusk in 2022 a leader in the Arabian scent industry. Kazi isn’t resting on his laurels though and has overseen a huge amount of growth these past two years, even with the pandemic. While the pandemic saw many businesses close their doors, there were businesses that were able to come out even stronger.
“When the pandemic came, we focused a host of our attention on online. We pivoted our business and were able to make huge strides. We found that our online sales increased and people were buying in their numbers. Between 2020 and 2021, we managed to have 17 stores in total, 15 in the UK and two in Germany.
“Even after the lockdowns, we continued to break our record sales monthly. We’ve had celebrity guests at our launches such as Amir Khan and we celebrated 10 years of business in 2019. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. We started out with £ 600, then made a million and now, our projected sales for 2022 are expected to hit £ 10million. When my family came from Bangladesh we were really poor and my parents did all they could do to help us. where we came from and where we are now, we feel very blessed to be where we are. “
I’m Ayokunle (Ayo to most) and I’m a Community Reporter at MyLondon covering community stories around London and positive human stories. I started in October 2021 and since then I’ve covered a range of topics spanning all of London.
Three stories in the last month that I’m particularly proud of are:
I was born and raised in Hackney and I came back from living in Sydney, Australia in 2020 which was a positive but stressful experience (Due to Covid). I do enjoy London but my knowledge of it for someone who has lived here his entire life is pretty shameful – that is why this job is ideal.
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