Published: March 20, 2023
Fledgling fashion firm in London opens it first business account with Unity Trust Bank
Three young mums who launched a modesty clothing line chose to open their first ethical business current account with Unity after attending a banking advice surgery.
Arefat Ahmed, 27, her sister Semira Ahmed, 32, and their friend Maria Belete Hailmichael, 30, set up Shama Modesty in Hackney to produce good quality, fashionable garments.
The women, who design and make the clothes by hand, were introduced to Unity through Hackney Cooperative Developments (HCD). HDC is a community development organisation that provides affordable rents, business support and training.
Unity provided seven figure finance to help HCD expand its premises and Relationship Manager, Andy Ledger, holds monthly advice surgeries to SMEs about business banking.
Arefat said: “We’re still learning and growing the business and our account with Unity is the first one we’ve had. Andy Ledger helped us a lot. I thought that setting it up would be a hard process but it wasn’t; it was really smooth.”
Arefat, Semira and Maria moved to the UK in 2007 from Ethiopia. After having children, they wanted to create a business that would accommodate their childcare arrangements.
They sell their designs on social media but have plans to open their own shop.
Arefat, who has a degree in business management, said: “We’re currently working flexible hours around our children. However, we want to go full time soon.
“You can buy modesty clothing anywhere. But, sometimes it doesn’t look the same after a few washes because the fabric is cheap. We wanted to provide customers with handmade, affordable clothing that was good quality.
“We buy good fabric from wholesalers in the UK and recycle what we don’t use.
“Our target audience is Muslim women but many non-Muslim women have told us how much they like our clothes too. So, we’re selling to a wide range of customers.”