Like millions of Muslims around the world, Kansas City online entrepreneur Suhaylah Alhambra started fasting in early May to mark the start of Ramadan.
She also picked this time to launch her beautiful collection of hand-filled and decorated dates that she now sells year-round under the name Alhambra Confections.
Dates are prized for being high in sugar, fiber and minerals, with small amounts of protein and fat, making them the ideal snack to break the fast at sundown during Ramadan. “They say that three dates can sustain you all day as they are easily digested and can be a quick source of energy and nutrients,” says Alhambra.
Although Alhambra had seen these types of filled and elaborately decorated dates in her travels to larger European cities, she had not found any in Kansas City. So, with the help of her mother and her sister, she developed a business plan for how to make and sell them online.
“Trained as a nurse, I now run an online clothing store full-time that sells modest but stylish women’s clothing called Sootarra, so I was already familiar with how to sell my dates online,” says Alhambra. “As soon as I started posting photos of my Alhambra Confections date boxes, my sales took off. It has been overwhelming, but really exciting.”
Alhambra says she and her family have been making and shipping boxes of her hand-dipped dates all over the country, with parents sending them to their children during Ramadan, and children sending them to their grandparents.
Although sales thus far have been mostly a family affair, Alhambra would love to introduce her all-natural pitted dates to anyone interested in trying them. The collection includes 11 different flavors that will change with the seasons, including 24 Carat (with almond filling, white chocolate, gold flakes and rose petal) and Pistachio (with milk chocolate and pistachio filling and topping).
With the help of her family, Alhambra pits the dates first, then fills them with hazelnut spread or various nuts or dried fruits. The dates are then dipped in chocolate and rolled in pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts, candied fruit, coconut, edible gold almonds or even dried rose petals. The finished product is impressive, with the look of a professional bon bon you might purchase from your favorite local candy store.
The boxed dates are available in several sizes: 4 for $10, 8 for $18, 16 for $35 and 24 for $50, with a flat $7 shipping rate within the U.S. Each box includes wrapping tied with a signature Alhambra Confections ribbon. Customers can choose flavors to build their own box, or choose from a mix of assorted flavors.
Alhambra's personal favorite is the Hazelnut Dream, which is filled with chocolate-hazelnut spread and dipped in chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. “I love eating those because it is such a wonderful jumble of crunchy textures and tastes,” she says.
Alhambra is still working on getting her website up and running, but customers can email email@example.com to order a box of Alhambra Confections.
Alhambra Confections, facebook.com/alhambraconfections