“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.” – Anne Klein.
Ali Delaney is the creative mastermind behind the Irish clothing company Custom Vintage Dublin (CVD) and at the age of just 22, has achieved remarkable success. Her designs are personalised, unique and ultra trendy – so much so that Ali has built up an impressive celebrity clientele. I mean, how many of us can say that Kylie Jenner has worn our own designs? Yes that’s right! Kylie along with other celebs such as Ireland Baldwin and Vogue Williams are all fans of CVD and, we have the Instagram pictures to prove it.
This week, as part of my “Irish Girl Boss Series”, I had the opportunity to interview the fabulous Ali and I cannot wait to share our chat with you. This lady will be taking over the world in no time at all!
Can you tell us what inspired you to create Custom Vintage Dublin?
It all actually happened by accident – I didn’t set out to start up a business at all! I just started to make some denim shorts for my sister and my friends for festivals and other events. Once I had made a few pairs, I set up some social media accounts for CVD and it all kind of spiralled from there and it has been growing organically ever since!
I adore the fact that every piece designed by CVD is one-of-a-kind. When you were creating your company, how important was the ethos of the brand — the idea of self-love and individuality?
I always thought it was important to be allowed to be individual. And, with something as simple as denim shorts, it doesn’t take much to be a bit unique, allowing girls to be more involved in the design process. For example, choosing the length and cut of the shorts that they feel will work the best for their body shape gives the customer a sense of confidence, knowing that they won’t be too short or that they won’t feel conscious or uncomfortable in them! Equally, some girls prefer the super-short style and some might prefer a brightly coloured or patterned pair of shorts. It is so nice for them to be able to email back and forth with me, and this really allows me to get a feel for what they are looking for.
Often, it’s our flaws, blunders and setbacks that actually allow us to advance in life by altering our perspective. In your early days of working in the business world, what do you think was the most important mistake that you have learned from?
I am still learning from my mistakes to this day. I am not sure I can place a specific mistake or blunder but you definitely learn from experience. There is absolutely no way of predicting how things are going to go from the outset, so you really just need to take it as it comes and work with it, always moving forward. It is easy to make a small mistake and let it get you down but you’re only human at the end of the day and there is no “rule book” or set plan to follow, you just have to do your best and learn as you go!
Do you take inspiration from other women in business and if so, who?
I definitely do! I follow and keep up to date with so many amazing Irish women in business through social media and every single one of them inspires me. When I go to events, for example the Cocoa Brown #KindGirlBoss Brunch last week, and get to meet all of these other women who run their own businesses and who go through the same struggles/highs and lows, it is so nice to get to have a chat with them and share ideas etc.
In my opinion, Custom Vintage Dublin strives to reflect the state of mind of women who believe that fashion is a reflection of personality. What item of clothing do you own which you would say best describes your personality?
That is SUCH a hard one! I don’t think I could pick just one thing, but I LOVE shoes. Not designer shoes in particular or anything, but I always feel like shoes make or break an outfit and most of mine are a bit of a statement.
How would you describe your personal style?
Day to day I am SO casual! I work from my office in Dalkey alone most of the time so I am usually found in gym gear mid-week! Also, with the creative nature of the shorts and hats etc, where I am constantly around dye/bleach/glue/sewing machines, I would always be in something that I don’t mind if it gets too wrecked (although I did splash bleach all over a brand new jumper last week which I still haven’t gotten over). At the weekends, my style would either be quite casual (jeans/flats/top) or if I am going out for the evening, I love getting dressed up and have quite a polished style I would say, simple hair/makeup and a nicely tailored/fitted dress or skirt.
At this very moment, what is in your handbag?
At this very moment, I just got back from a long weekend down in my mobile home in Wexford, so it is bit messy. But, I have my phone charger, hairbrush, lip liner/lipstick/lip gloss (ALWAYS), purse and keys! Nothing too exciting!
My favourite item on the CVD website at the moment is the “Wanderlust World Map Print Levi Shorts”. If you were going to Marbella for a weekend break and could only take three favourite pieces from your current collection, what would you pick?
Oh this is a good one, I was in Marbella earlier in the summer! I would definitely bring a pair of the mirrored sunglasses. When I went in June I brought the Aqua “Fly” sunnies, one or two of the bikinis, probably the “Wine Crochet Bikini” and the “Blush Pink Bikini”, and finally I would bring a classic pair of Levis – I have a few pairs I have made for myself but I always leave them plain because I can never decide on anything. Spoilt for choice!
What are your top entrepreneurship tips?
My top tips would be:
A) Not to overthink things, it is SO easy as a business owner, especially if you work for yourself/on your own, to OVER THINK things, this is so dangerous and can completely freak you out and halt your progress. Try and just take things as they come.
B) I have only learnt this after a few years, but try not to worry about what anyone ELSE is up to, just focus on yourself and your business, don’t be worrying about another businesses that might be copying you or that you might feel you need to compete with, just do you!
C) Say yes to every opportunity that comes in your direction. Again, this has taken me a few years to discover, but just try and say yes to as many things as possible – even it it throws you completely out of your comfort zone. I am still learning this one but it definitely helps!
For more information and a peak at Ali’s designs, you can visit the Custom Vintage Dublin website here.
Let us know if you have any feedback in the comment section!