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Omar Lababidi has started a clothing business for Muslim women in Calgary after being forced to leave three stores behind in Syria
When Omar Lababidi came to Canada from Syria, he saw a gap in the retail market when it came to attire for Muslim women.
He bought a home in 612 Marlborough way NE, Calgary with the intent to convert its basement into a clothing boutique.
Fancy Label, now two years running, offers a variety of scarves, abayas, coats, and tunics for all Muslim women of all backgrounds.
Lababidi managed and owned three women’s clothing stores in the Syrian city of Homs, with about ten employees on his roster.
Homs has been under siege and the target of constant bombings since 2011.
After a year of living under siege, the family decided to flee Syria. Lababidi’s wife had dual citizenship in Canada, which would allow his then two-year-old daughter, Nour, to become a citizen in their new home relatively quickly.
The Lababidi family travelled through Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Montreal, and finally, Calgary.
“My only thought was that I had to save my family,” Lababidi said.
Since arriving in Canada, the family has expanded to include two healthy and happy boys.
Almost two years since he welcomed his first customer to his home in Calgary, Lababidi is looking for a space to open his first retail store.
“Day by day, the people have started to trust us and come to shop. Now we have a serious intention to get a store within four or five months,” he said.
“It feels wonderful. Canada is a very nice, safe country to establish a business.”
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Success of Syrian basement clothing business has owner looking to expand
Published Sunday, December 11, 2016 5:17PM MST
Last Updated Sunday, December 11, 2016 6:38PM MST
A Calgarian who relocated from Syria in 2011 has found success with his line of clothing for women thanks to a customer base that continues to expand through word-of-mouth.
Omar Lababidi owned three women’s clothing stores in the city of Homs specializing in both high-end and modest apparel.
Lababidi relocated to Canada and, after spending time in Montreal, moved to Calgary where he returned to the business he knew but on a much smaller scale.
Working out of his basement, the business owner secured inventory from Turkey and began selling his wares to Calgary women under the name Fancy Label. The clothing proved popular with Muslim women as many of the items concealed all bare skin,
"We have to be covered," said Rahaf Aburashed who was shopping for a graduation dress. "As part of our religion we have to wear long sleeves because you can't be showing off your arm or anything."
Lababidi's store was soon discovered by customers from an array of cultural backgrounds.
“We are on the right track,” said Lababidi. “We started two years ago from my basement. Now we’re growing up so fast so that’s we need to get our first real store, like an official store, in Calgary.”
Lababidi says the kind of clothing he offers is hard to find in Calgary and across Canada. Fancy Label is now available online but Lababidi says the economic downturn had made retail space affordable and he hopes to open a store in the coming months. Should the store succeed, Labibidi plans to pursue his dream and expand to locations throughout North America.
With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming
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