Back in April, I received an unexpected phone call from a Macy’s employee. They were looking to purchase decor for the Macy’s South Coast Plaza store in Costa Mesa, CA. Referred by a loyal modernEID customer, the Macy’s employee explained that after reviewing suggestions from key employees, her manager had approved the possibility of decorating the store for Ramadan.
I was floored! How wonderful, that Macy’s would honor their employees with such a gesture. I let the employee know that we could of course accommodate her request. However, I recognized that decorating a retail environment would involve specific guidelines. She passed on my information to her manager, who would get in touch with me shortly. I awaited the call with anticipation.
Imagine my surprise when I was contacted the next day by the Southwest Regional Director of Wedding Gift Registry. Not only did Gary hold a distinguished position in the company, but he was one of the nicest, most respectful people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to! I quickly learned from him that Orange County receives a large influx of tourists from the Gulf region during the summer months. Since South Coast Plaza remains the premier shopping destination in California, these guests flock there for their shopping needs. Macy’s was well aware of this phenomenon, recognized the importance of the customer group, and was looking to make them feel welcome. We scheduled a meeting to discuss the store’s needs, and how we could help.
As an Orange Country girl, I hold South Coast Plaza near and dear to my heart. To say I was excited to be going to the Macy’s offices would be an understatement. Jumping up and down in jubilation like a schoolgirl would be a more accurate description!
During our meeting, I learned a great deal about the retail world. We spent time looking at modernEID products and brainstorming ideas for how to celebrate Ramadan in-store. I took the opportunity to give them a quick introduction to Ramadan and Eid. I also let them know that while the Middle Eastern and Muslim tourist demographic was important, there was also a large American Muslim demographic in Los Angeles and Orange County that would also flock to Macy’s, if given such a gesture. At the end of our meeting, it was decided that they needed to discuss the scale of the project, and get back to us.
As I waited a few weeks to hear from them, I was more than a little anxious. Frankly, I was a nervous wreck! The possibility of a major retailer finally recognizing Ramadan or Eid with decor was so close, and yet seemed so far. More than that, such a gesture was unprecedented, and I knew that this would be the first step to seeing retailers take note of the Muslim American demographic. This goal is among the reasons why modernEID began, plain and simple.
After what seemed to be an eternity, I was called in for a follow up meeting to show some designs and meet with Visual Merchandising. I presented a new modernEID design that I felt would work best for Macy’s. They liked it and showed me the tower displays for the signage. Four displays to be divided among the three stores: Women’s, Men’s, and Home.
It was happening. It was really happening. Nowadays, I found myself sitting at my computer, designing a display for Macy’s, The wonder and opportunity is not lost on me, this is a dream come true and a mission realized. As exciting as this was, it didn’t stop there.
Later, I was asked to come in for another meeting, in order to finalize details and discuss the possibility of Macy’s hosting a “Welcome Ramadan” party. I shared with them the dates of Ramadan and my thoughts on what would be optimal for a good turnout. I also met the representative working for Macy’s who was the catalyst behind this whole project. Rima, a lovely Christian Lebanese woman, recognized that many of her customers were Middle Eastern Muslims, and believed strongly that something should be done for Ramadan.
It was set that Macy’s South Coast Plaza would host a “Welcome Ramadan” event in store on June 25th from 2-6pm. modernEID-designed display towers would be erected prior to the event, and up the entire month of Ramadan. Even more, I told the store manager about the small Pop-Up Show that modernEID was hosting with other small business vendors on June 22nd. With enthusiasm and support, he asked if Macy’s could be represented at our Pop-Up to meet our customers and invite them to the “Welcome Ramadan” party.
What started simply as an idea to purchase some modern Ramadan decor evolved into a partnership with a company that I have so much respect for. Everyone at Macy’s South Coast Plaza that I met on this journey, has been so supportive, kind, and excited about the project. Although everyone recognizes that this is good marketing to an important customer base, they haven’t lost sight of the significance. While spearheading this project, the store realized they wanted their Muslim employees to know that Macy’s cares about them. I was told that when one employee heard about the project, she was so moved she began to tear up.
Macy’s is a company that cares about its customers, employees, and community, with such sincerity. They have my utmost respect and dedication as a customer for life. I hope everyone who is moved by this story, shows them the same support they have shown us. This journey is truly a dream realized, and I am grateful to have met so many amazing people who helped this dream come true.
Jomana was selected to present her company, modernEID, on the Entrepreneurship Showcase panel at AMCC 2011. Do you have a company that’s benefiting the American Muslim consumer, either directly or as a byproduct? Apply now for a chance to present your company on this year’s Entrepreneurship Showcase panel at AMCC 2014. Application deadline is August 30, 2014.