The environment will be earth-tone, deep, rich colors with Islamic sayings (from Qur'an, ahadeeth etc) painted onto the walls. I plan to do this myself; not by my one artistic ability of course, but I'll print the designs and calligraphy from pictures on the internet onto translucent paper and project the image onto the walls where I'll trace them and eventually color them in. I did it for a project once in school, and it worked well. Of the designs, there will be the words 'play with them until they're 7' in english and arabic on the door of The Growing, as were the words of Saidna Ali raa. I'll have soft anasheed playing in the back round as opposed to alternative Cafe music, and the windows will all have thick, bushy curtains on them to prevent outsiders from seeing in.
The Cafe will have lunch, snack and beverage items, including different kinds of international coffee (Colombian, Saudi Arabian, Turkish, Nescafe... etc), a fresh juice/cocktail/smoothie bar, all of the halal candy (I can order online that isn't found in other stores), soft ice cream, and deli-style sandwich options with all-halal deli meats, cheese, chips, pickles, soft drinks and tea cookies/baklava.
I should note that the parking lot is essential to the success of my idea, because Muslim women mashaAllah tend to have kids... and who wants to park 7 blocks away from their destination and lug all the babies and baby paraphernalia inside? Additionally, we all know Canadian winters... enough said. We need private parking.
The entrances have small rooms close to the doors where men may enter, only to help their wives carry things to the door, or maintainence/mail can come to the door without everyone screaming and running. Those entrances should have doorbells that notify clerks at the Cafe counter and in the kitchen so they can go check the door.
Lastly, my favorite part- Mariam Sofia's!!! The entire mall is inter connected, and every area is accessible from inside, but also from separate entrances outside for the convenience of the customers. Mariam Sofia's is an Islamic store that has a knowledge section, featuring books, cd/audio lectures, Video/DVD lectures, Kids educational items and the like; unique and hijabs, and abayas, the styles of which can't be found elsewhere in the city; as well as accessories I find online or in my shopping excursions. One of the most exciting thing about Mariam Sofia's is my plan to have racks of clothing from stores such as H&M, Forever 21, Costa Blanca, Old Navy, Winners, or wherever else I can find good clothes for young sisters- which meet Islamic standards, while at the same time inspire girls to be creative and have fun with clothing; sending them the message 'you can look and feel great while at the same time pleasing Allah swt, and protecting your modesty'. There will be a beautiful changing room with a full-wall-mirror to accommodate customers, and make them comfortable with their purchases.
Another idea I have for the store is to compile 'Visit the sick' bags, with a hadeeth encouraging Muslims to do so on the cart- they will be gift bags with herbal teas, get well soon cards, comfort-pack neck pillows... things like that. There will also be 'new baby' gift bags, 'thank you' gift bags.. and other themes. Also, there should be a section for home-decor items, like unique tea sets (you know how we Muslims do enjoy tea), candles, artwork and other items pertinent to western Islamic culture. I'd like to have a beautiful display case in the front of Mariam Sofia's to appeal to customers, and to exemplify the merchandise we offer in the store; the beautiful clothing and accessories, the home-decor, the knowledge section, all displayed among vibrant colors and decorations in the display case.
The idea here is to create what community architects call a Third Place; with the intention in mind that a person has their work environment, their home, and the Third Place should be a place of enjoyment and recreation. Muslim women need this desperately to keep our daughters, from loitering aimlessly in malls or 'hanging out' wherever their friends may be. We need a secure, blissful environment to call 'The House'.