When Plymouth resident Sonia Puri decided to start a business out of her home, she did so with the intention of “providing stylish, designer clothing to women at affordable prices.” She adds that her store “offers South Asian ethnic wear for women, teenage girls and men. The name of her business, Dilli Haart, comes from Dilli, an informal name for India’s capital, New Delhi, and heart, so, “the heart of Delhi,” says Puri.
Since opening in the summer of 2012, Dilli Haart has been a combined effort between family and friends. “My husband Sunil helps out tremendously with online and store sales,” Sonia explains. “We have some great friends who help with creative promotions, organizing women’s empowerment events, sharing through word of mouth and providing unconditional support any day, any time we need.”
From the beginning, Puri was inspired to help others with her store. With a mathematics and computer science background, Puri never saw herself owning her own boutique. But when she noticed a friend struggling, Puri knew she needed to do whatever she could to improve the situation.
“Someone very close to me was fighting depression,” Puri explains. “We both have similar taste in clothes. To motivate her and help her get out of her mental state, [I] decided to start something small.” The humble beginning helped Puri’s friend with her depression and acted as a sort of therapy for her. “She was helping me get in touch with different suppliers in India, [and] she was selecting certain styles and designs for me. This really motivated me to help out other women in similar situations.”
The help from Puri’s friend allowed Dilli Haart to become fully realized. Once Puri started, she knew she needed to see Dilli Haart through and continue her mission of putting good back into the world.
The main goal for Dilli Haart, according to Puri, is to empower women as much as she can. Her creative partners Sheetal Kulkarni and Prashant Sarnaik helped Puri put together her women’s empowerment event Invincible last fall. The event’s focus was to “appreciate and celebrate women power in [the] Twin Cities community,” Puri says.
Dilli Haart’s concern for women extends far beyond Minnesota. Puri makes sure to share her love with women abroad. A portion of Dilli Haart’s products come from “exporters in India who buy [from] and support…[non-governmental organizations] employing women,” Puri says. “We also work directly with small household boutiques run by women.”
Many of the fashions are handmade, providing “employment to tribal women and women in rural areas,” Puri explains. Most of Dilli Haart’s jewelry is handmade. And the sarees in the store are hand-embroidered. Puri adds that each saree takes about two months to finish, but the work creates a beautiful finished product.
A portion of the proceeds from the sarees, along with the kurtis and kurtas (tunic tops for women and men, respectiveley) and lehenga cholis (a three-piece outfit with a long skirt, fitted blouse and shawl) , go towards non-profits worldwide. Puri has chosen good causes like Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Asha USA, a non-profit working on the issue of poverty in Delhi, and Chance Foundation, a non-profit working to help impoverished children in India.
When you shop at Dilli Haart, every part of your experience is built from good intentions and ethical labor.