Founder Musings: Retail is in my DNA

If you are reading this online, chances are you won't know we are a multi-channel brand - not just a website. We now have two amazing stores - one in London and one in Sherborne. I started Dilli Grey setting up stalls at my lovely friends' homes and then tried my hand at some of the most gorgeous summer fairs in London and surrounding areas. With a fashion retail buying background, shops and selling to real people and getting that instant feedback is in my blood and was for me the obvious place to start when building the business. The stalls led to pop-up stores, collaborating with other gorgeous brands and then finally taking the leap to opening our own store in 2020 (I know terrible timing)…. Or was it?

Our first Barnes store

On my last trip to India earlier this year I found myself sharing stories with our artisans about how shopping is a national hobby back home in Britain but it’s not just the shopping, it’s the ritual! How many times have you arranged to meet a friend for lunch and a mooch around the shops? Spending the day gossiping and catching up whilst browsing the rails, crowding into changing rooms to 'give your verdict' or shopping for a new outfit to wear on your Saturday night out.

Pic credit: Afflecks.com

For me a right of passage was getting the train into Manchester when I was in my early teens to go shopping at Afflecks Place with my friend - the Mecca for vintage shopping back in the day! I would also spend all my hard-earned cash from working weekends in a bakery (yes retail, there a theme) with my mum and sister at Chelsea girl and buy fabric from the fabulous factory shops to make floral flares and hats! The design gene is strong!

Anyway my point is shopping is not just about the transaction of buying it’s about connection and creativity. There’s something so wonderful about ‘mooching’ and taking your time looking for something that sparks joy.

I mentioned earlier about shopping in Manchester, I was born near Liverpool and as the grandchild and child of scousers my family love to talk and if you’ve been to shops up North you will know that you cannot go into a shop without finding out the life history of whoever runs it!

THIS is the essence of what I wanted for my stores, somewhere you can mooch, have a super long chat, sit down, bring your partner, try things on and soak up the magic of what we do.

We also work hard in giving you an ‘edit’, we will never have hundreds of options just for the sake of it - everything you see in our stores is carefully designed by me to ensure every detail is considered, then slowly and skillfully made by our artisans - or if not designed by me, sourced from fellow independent sustainable brands.

So to come full circle back to our multi-channel business - my constant quest as a lover of 'bricks and mortar' retail, is how do we convey that same warm, inviting atmosphere through our digital channels when you can't seen and touch our artisan products? E-commerce can be very transactional - product-led and less heart-driven - but I do believe through sharing our artisan stories here on the journal and through our newsletters, amazing personal customer service and learning from and talking to our customers we can foster that same feeling through our online and social channels.

This season I will be doing more Instagram Lives for you to connect with me and ask me questions about styling, or product advice - as well as our new in-store events calendar, launching this September.

If you would like to visit our Sherborne store you can find the details here, or our Barnes store here.

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