The Leila Gregory Story: From Bankruptcy To Belle-Modelle.

Find out how Leila Gregory went from bankruptcy to the hugely successful Belle-Modelle + a brand new womenswear collection (feat. cosy sweaters + scarves), here.

Leila Gregory launched Belle-Modelle, because she wanted to create a high-quality, affordable collection that is flattering and easy to wear, with designs that will inspire women to embrace colour, whatever their size or shape.

Belle-Modelle is an online, independent fashion and homeware store, which features a curated collection of clothing, homeware and gifts. Until recently, Leila had sourced her clothing and homeware collections from around the world. However, following a dramatic increase in online sales during the pandemic, Leila decided to launch her own range of brightly coloured, joy-inducing clothing.

The Belle-Modelle range targets women of all shapes and sizes (between the ages of 30 and 58), and is available in two sizes: 8-14, and 16-20. Also, Belle-Modelle continually monitors their supply chains, to ensure that it upholds ethical and sustainable practices at every stage of its process. Shipping is free on orders over £60, all packaging is 100% recyclable, and returns are free.

The new range includes Stella Cuffs, a Bellatrix Boxy Knit Jumper, the Knit 21 range, a Bella Aztec Fringe Scarf, and the Chara Bamboo Scarves.

“I have worked in retail for over 30 years, and it has always been my dream to have my own collection. Lock-down resulted in an increase in online competition for us, with many retailers selling very similar pieces. This combined with a growing challenge to find unique ranges, – gave me the drive and confidence to design our first collection,” said Leila.

“Also, I’m all about colour, so I was keen to create joy-inducing clothes and scarves that encourages real women of all shapes and sizes to embrace bright colours. It was also important to me that our designs were accessible to all, so affordability was very important. Our pieces can be mixed and matched,” she added.

Dorchester-based Leila Gregory launched Belle-Modelle in 2014. After leaving school, she jumped straight into retail at John Lewis, where she became one of the youngest ever managers for Helena Rubenstein. Leila then worked in the cosmetics industry for 15 years (mainly for Estee Lauder).

Following a career break to start a family, and a stint at her husband’s ice-cream company (where she secured a Virgin Atlantic contract), she started her first business in 2012, which combined a tea room, a cocktail lounge with restaurants, and a space that sold clothing and furniture. Unfortunately, less than a year later, the business folded.

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Leila (who was living in the premises at the time) lost both her business and her home, and she filed for bankruptcy. A television opportunity then beckoned in the form of a BBC television show called “Your Home In Their Hands,” which saw homeowners handing over their keys to amateur designers, including Leila, who redesigned several rooms in their homes. 

Shortly after, Belle-Modelle launched online, and in a studio, featuring all of the furniture from the show that Leila had sourced from around the world.

Next up, Leila opened a shop in Beaminster Dorset, where in 2017, she caught the attention of one of the partners of Brewery Square, who suggested that she set up a pop up shop in a building there. Things took off, with Belle-Modelle going from strength to strength. In 2019, Leila brought on some silent investors, and the company increased its turnover from an impressive £350,000 a year, to an even more impressive £1million a year.

Fast forward to now, and Belle Modelle launched its first range of knitwear last Autumn, which has been a huge success. Knit 21 (which comprises of six bold, bright designs) – has now sold over 2500 units, with the best selling designs on repeat order, and new designs arriving in December last year, which included:

The Longline mohair cardigan, the Gemini Stripe Long Sleeve T-Shirt, and a new scarf range, which offers a vibrant pop of colour (just in time for a Valentines treat). Featuring four 70 x 70cm satin designs, the scarves included a vibrant emerald, and a Pink Peacock design: a sophisticated Blue and Black Animal Print, a bright, Multi Colour Feather and Spot design, and a bright Pink Printed pattern.

And last but not least, there’s also a long and luxurious Golden Leopard Silk Scarf on a navy design. This 43 x 170 pure silk scarf is the perfect accessory for layering up. Oh, and one more thing: Belle Modelle are expanding their initial edit over the coming few months:

Their SS22 collection will include: a tailored jogger, the Knit 21 BELLE Red Trio Star and the Knit 21 GEM Grey Star (which will replace the very successful Knit 21 GEM Red Star and the Knit 21 BELLE Trio Star). There’ll also be lighter versions of their Knit 21 range, and a new version of the successful Bellatrix Boxy knit being re-introduced in black, yellow and tangerine orange, plus some pattern clashing dresses and a metallic pleated skirt.

You can find out more about Belle-Modelle here: