IT'S funny the things we remember from childhood.
For Tarik Houchar, of Guildford, it was the soft colour palette of his aunt Samya Alam's "most special" house and it's that memory which shaped his journey as a fashion influencer.
"If you go visit her house it's covered in pinks and greens — it's just very romantic," said Mr Houchar, the founder of abaya, cap and hijab stockist Hijab House.
"I remember one of our biggest sellers starting out — it changed everything for us — it was a simple pink and green scarf influenced by the armchair in that house. From day one she's been pivotal to the vision."
The specialty store at shop 1074, level 1, Stockland Merrylands is a second-time finalist in the Business of the Year category.
Mr Houchar said what set his store apart from others like it was its fashion-forwardedness.
"A typical hijab store is very unfriendly and caters for older, more conservative, more traditional females, whereas with our store it's really bright, accessible," he said. "I think that's the key difference — we've really connected our brand with young people. Three years ago no Islamic fashion stores had floral or pastel colours or anything remotely young in it — now you find every store has floral and peplum.
"We always planned to be influential.
"What also sets us apart is that our head designer [Sophie Loader] is not of Middle Eastern descent — and she sees the clothes from a non-Muslim perspective."
OTHER LOCAL FINALISTS
ABC journalist Tahmina Ansari, of Parramatta, is a finalist in the Media of the Year category of the Australian Muslim Achievement Award.
She is an executive member of Affinity Intercultural Foundation and president of the Macquarie University Affinity Club.
Auburn’s Activ8 youth-mentoring program is in the running for Best New Community Initiative of the Year award.
■ The annual award is run by Mission of Hope, established in 2005 to raise the profile of Australian Muslim individuals and organisations. Winners will be announced at an event with this year’s MasterChef Australia finalist Samira El-Khafir at The Renaissance Lidcombe on December1.
■ Cost: $60 or $500 for a table of 10. Tickets: trybooking.com/DRNU.