We talk to the founder, Vickie El-Rayyes, about creating a brand that offers everyday luxury with a soul, and the wanderlust magic of India sewn into every design.

Dilli Grey is an ethical lifestyle collection of Indian-inspired, artisanal clothing and homewares - creating beautiful, considered products in a mindful way. Known for its signature hand-block printed cotton sleepwear and quilts as well as hand-embroidered womenswear, home accessories and gifts, Dilli Grey uniquely offers everyday luxury with a soul, and the wanderlust magic of India sewn into every design.

We catch up with the founder, Vickie El-Rayyes, to find out more.

What was the inspiration for the site/business?

After over twenty years working for some of the best brands on the UK high street as a buyer and head of buying I became disillusioned with the way that business was being done. After travelling extensively to India over the years I knew I wanted to create a brand that was centered in this magical country, mainly because of the people and the rich history of the crafts and skill which is still in abundance.

When did you launch?

In March 2015 I travelled to India with £2000 and an idea in my head..... I visited some of my contacts and asked if they would help me start small and test the idea of an Indian heart-led, soulful, ethical lifestyle brand with craft and artisans at the centre of it all.

What are your greatest challenges?

The main challenge is 'the juggle' when you are a small business and wearing so many hats can be a challenge. I have to be the designer, accountant, merchandiser, art director, CEO and also be able to critique my own work. I’m so lucky to have the most incredible small but mighty team to help me; it’s amazing what you can achieve with micro focus and a very clear strategy. We laugh A LOT and make a tonne of learnings every day; we are writing our own rule book as we go along so every day is new and full of promise.

What's your background?

As I mentioned above I have worked in the fashion industry for 20 plus years as a fashion buyer and then a head of buying, managing teams to select and develop products and work with the wider teams to ensure that each collection that landed in stores was as beautiful as we intended. I also co-founded a wholesale womenswear brand called Bootique in 2006 which was a fantastic chance to discover what it was like to run my own business.

Who do you admire in business?

I am so inspired by all of the female small-business owners that I have met on my journey over the last few years I could list so many. Their passion and endless drive inspires me every day to do the same. On a bigger picture level I am a HUGE admirer of Holly Tucker and all that she has achieved with Not On The High Street and now with Holly and Co. She is spearheading change in the world for independent retailing, these creative independent heart-led businesses are the future of retail and its so great to have a champion like Holly.

Please recommend a website and / or app that helps you promote or run your business...

I have to say its Shopify, which is the platform that hosts our website. We were an early adopter and have been with them since we launched the business, I can't recommend them highly enough for a small business, they have revolutionised trading online, so affordable and easy to use, a true entrepreneurial approach to business which I really admire.

Do you have a favourite business podcast?

100% Conversations of Inspiration by Holly Tucker; it’s magnificently inspiring and very honest at the same time about the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur

Who is your favourite travel or India themed instagrammer?

I absolutely adore @lovetravel_india - her account is jam-packed full of incredible inspiration and her amazing travel books are for me a must-have to access the real India. Plus Fiona who writes them is a real joy….

What is the best piece of digital advice you've been given in regards to your showcasing/running your business online?

For me personally, my background has been mainly in retail and the product development and design side of the business. I quickly realized as we began growing online that this is one hell of an expert area so I found the perfect partner and outsourced some support to help me navigate and harness the potential of selling online and all of the other streams that converge into selling.

What is your motto?

I am a very heart-led person and finally feel that with my own business I can truly follow my gut and instinct, so my motto would probably be 'ALWAYS follow your gut and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise'. That doesn’t mean don’t listen to advice - be open, listen, absorb and do what feels right for YOU and your business. I strongly believe that heart-led businesses are the way forward and are the future of retailing.

Where do you see the business going from here?

We have recently opened our first bricks and mortar store in SW London, which has really helped us mould and solidify our business online. I see them as very complimentary and would love to have a store on a slightly larger scale with more than just retail involved. Customers are looking for full immersion and to feel cherished and special and I honestly believe that a multi-channel approach is key to our future success.

Another huge focus for us to to really build on our ethical credentials, we will never stop trying to be better and to support fair trade, ethical manufacturing and to introduce some really interesting planet-friendly sustainable products into the collection. Now that we are a little more established as a brand we have also just started working with an incredible womens charity called Anoothi and are looking to give back as much as we can to the incredible communities that have helped us create the business. I want to doing good and being kind to be a core value of our business.

September 2019