I was recently approached by United Airlines to film a segment called “Three Perfect Days in Fort Lauderdale,” which will air on all United flights on August 1.  As a Fort Lauderdale native and self-appointed expert, I was absolutely THRILLED. First off, I feel incredibly honored that they asked me to be their hostess for the day. Secondly, there’s nothing I love more than sharing all of the amazing spots our city has to offer. Between our pristine beaches, boating canals, luxury hotels and restaurants, there truly is no other city like Fort Lauderdale (if I should say so myself).

When not I’m not at work, I tend to be more introverted, which a lot of people don’t really know about me. I enjoy doing things geared toward home, and health and wellness play a huge part in my everyday life. In this city guide, I tried to include all the best that Fort Lauderdale has to offer while also showing a bit of my personal side.

Here’s how it all went down!

1. The day started off at the store where we spoke about my experience owning a local boutique for more than nine years. It was very special to speak to the cameras (and the world) about why this passion turned project holds a special place in my heart.

michelle dimarco

2. We then headed over to my favorite coffee digs, Brew Urban Café. The funky space has a sprawling, Instagram-worthy book collection and is hands down the best coffee shop in Fort Lauderdale. Not only do they serve locally grown ingredients sourced daily from vendors within the community, but the quality of their coffee and pastries is simply unparalleled. It’s the perfect place to come, sit back and listen to local music while getting some work done. My go-to order? A vegan muffin and cappuccino. It does not disappoint!

michelle dimarco

3. Following my religious caffeine fix, we headed east to the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Here, we were greeted by Denyse, the curator, who graciously gave us a tour of the whimsically-designed house and the owner’s private art studio. She also gave us a tour of the beautiful gardens, including one of the finest orchard collections in the U.S. This was such a treat as I’ve never come across so many orchid variations in my life! We also encountered some resident wild monkeys roaming freely on the grounds, which was an experience in and of itself!

4. After Bonnet House, we went to the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale on the one and only Las Olas Boulevard. Here, I spoke to the museum curator about their new exhibit, which highlights Paris and New York City from the 1890s to the 1920s through breathtaking photographs and art. It’s no secret I love the city of lights, so this was an absolute dream. The exhibit shows how the invention of electricity impacted artists, which you can actually see in the paintings. Pretty cool! The exhibit won’t be there for much longer, so I highly recommend seeing it before it’s too late!

michelle dimarco

5. We then headed south to the recently opened brewery, Tarpon River Brewing. Tarpon River is actually located in the historical 1920s stable belonging to the Snyder family of Fort Lauderdale. As a result, the brewery has a distinct Old-Florida design with reclaimed and restored barn wood. I got to interview the owner and we tasted a variety of beers, including clean lagers, mixed-fermentation sour beers and barrel-aged ales.

michelle dimarco

6. After working up an appetite, we grabbed a bite to eat at El Vez, a Mexican restaurant on the first floor of the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel with stunning hand painted murals. Created by renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr, El Vez showcases classic Mexican fare with an emphasis on Baja-style cooking that celebrates the fresh seafood of our city. I got to chat one-on-one with Executive Chef Steve Menter, and he had us try some of the restaurants signature dishes including the most delicious guacamole, tacos and nachos.

7. Perhaps what makes Fort Lauderdale so special and has given it the name “Venice of America” are the numerous intercostal waterways. I wanted to make sure this was included in my tour, so we hopped aboard the super convenient Water Taxi. Not only did we have a front-row seat to mega yachts and mansions (what a treat!), but we avoided traffic and got to the other side of town in record time.

michelle dimarco

8. My tour of Fort Lauderdale ended at Rooftop 1WLO, Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s first ever rooftop bar, which is elevated above Las Olas Boulevard and the New River. My girlfriends met me here for some hand-crafted cocktails made by the BEST mixologists. My favorite drinks are the “What the Matcha” (New Amsterdam Vodka, matcha powder and green chartreuse) and the tropical “Kiwi AF” (Mount Gay Rum, kiwi, mint, rosemary and Cointreau), which is especially refreshing on a warm summer night. There truly was no better way to end my Fort Lauderdale tour than toasting to this beautiful city!

michelle dimarco

Over the years, I’ve collected a good number of swimsuits. As a fashion boutique owner and South
Florida native, I’ve become a self-proclaimed swimsuit connoisseur. Yet, no matter how many swimsuits
I amass, I’m always likely to pick out the same ones over and over again. Why? Because they’re super
flattering of course!

Below, I’ve narrowed down my extensive collection down to 6 swimsuits you should own this summer.
From off the shoulder tops, to high-wasted bottoms, all six silhouettes are timeless. Consider these six
pieces your forever swimsuits.

Off-the-Shoulder

Top: $115
Bottoms: $96
We’ve never met an off-the-shoulder bikini top we didn’t like. And with this tropical printed Vitamin A set, the forecast is always sunny.

Top-Knot Detail


Top: $99
Bottoms: $79
Vacay the right way with this L*Space bikini. The knitted bikini contains a decorative knot detail with a scoop neck at the top, making it the perfect combination of trendy, flattering and feminine.

Ruffle Accents


Top: $88
Bottoms: $78
Ruffles on swimwear is a great way to take an ordinary swimsuit to extraordinary. Not only do the ruffles on this Montce Swim bikini add a playful element to it, but they also add an extra flair.

Thigh-High


$167
We all need a suit that can take us from the pool or beach to wherever else we want to go. Lucky for you, this Vitamin A one-piece is that suit. Simply pair it with some denim shorts or a flowy skirt, and it’ll double up as a bodysuit.

High Waisted


Top: $138
Bottoms: $82
Like a black tee, a high-waited bikini bottom is something you should always have stocked away. Regardless of your shape or size, this cut is flattering on everyone as it squeezes everything in—a plus when you might be worried about your beach bod—and gives the illusion of longer legs.

Mesh



Top: $95
Bottoms: $88
As you approach the pool in this black mesh L*Space bikini, all eyes will be fixed on you. Yes, it’s daring, but it still gives you the necessary coverage. Trust me, it’ll be your poolside version of the LBD.

Let me know in the comment section below which piece is your favorite!

Xoxo,
Michelle

Name: Caitlin Saucier
Occupation/Company: Founder and Creator of Sauci Style
Instagram: @saucistyle
Website: www.saucistyle.com

How did you get to where you are today?

Hustle, baby! Although my career started out in fashion with Alice + Olivia in New York City, I ended up starting my own business by life-circumstance. A relationship moved me from New York to Birmingham, Alabama to South Florida, and the retail management positions available were far and few between. I felt a bit lost and was uninspired by the career opportunities in my vocation. I vividly remember folding towels at a Pilates studio one afternoon, and questioning what I was doing with my life. I realized in that moment, that if I couldn’t find my dream job, I’d just have to make-up my own. Then…I HUSTLED!

What is your elevator pitch on what you do?

I’m a Fairy Godmother and a therapist! I’ll make sure you turn heads at the ball and I’ll be your shoulder to cry on when you lose your glass slipper.

How do you define success?

Success in my mind, is being able to provide for yourself by doing what you love.

What have been some of the most rewarding things in your career thus far?

Styling celebrities like Venus Williams and Nacho Figueras definitely top my list! Over the past few years though, I’ve really started to value the relationships I’ve built with fellow influencers and women in the fashion industry. I never had a mentor, but I’m constantly learning from the boss-babes that I’m proud to consider colleagues and friends.

What have been some of the hiccups (mistakes) along the way and what have you learned from them?

It’s far too common for women to allow their career aspirations to take a backseat, whether in a relationship or in motherhood. I made that mistake…I folded towels….I learned my lesson. As a female, it’s incredibly important to make your own dreams a priority.

What do you still want to achieve personally and/or professionally?

Over the past year, I’ve been able to add people to my team! I want to continue to grow and share my vision and experience with new employees.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Well, that would have to go to my mom! Shes’ my biggest cheerleader.

What makes you truly, genuinely happy?

Shoes…and wine!

What advice would you tell your 21-year-old self?

Brown lip liner was meant to stay in the 90s. Quit wearing it!

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?

The glamour! You’re far more likely to see me wearing joggers and my Golden Goose sneakers while carrying five garment bags through the mall, than you are to see me in Jimmy Choos sitting front row at a fashion show.

Any words of inspiration or your favorite quote?

Life is short! Do what you love, with the people you love- and never look back!

This week I thought I would address a topic that needs much addressing: social media influencers. Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, gone down the rabbit hole, and started to compare yourself to them? Trust me, I get it. From “my life is so boring,” to “wow, my closet really does suck,” to “I desperately need to lose some weight,” I’ve been there. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in this spiral of negative thoughts.

I’m pretty sure all of you are familiar with the term “influencer.” After all, it’s 2018! But, if you’re not, an influencer is someone a brand pays to promote their product, service or experience. This is usually done in exchange for a product, coverage, promotion or direct payment.

Before I delve any further, I just want to say I don’t have any issues with influencers. I’d be a hypocrite if I did. My boutique Lilac And Lilies has worked with numerous influencers in the past and we’ve truly benefited from our collaborations with them.

Having experienced this tradeoff firsthand, I can safely say that successful influencers are some of the hardest working entrepreneurs I know. They practically work 24/7, creating content, negotiating deals and signing contracts at all hours of the day. They also have to present a “perfect” life, which is a full-time job on its own.

However, we need to start looking at influencers for what they are. They’re advertisers. Plain and simple. Think of when you flip through the pages of Vogue and come across a high-fashion advertisement. Do you look at it knowing it’s clearly an ad? The answer is probably yes. You’re fully aware that the image has gone through plenty of retouching and post-production so that it can best sell a product.

Now think of when you come across an influencer’s profile on Instagram? Do you look at their photos the same way you’d look at an advertisement in Vogue? Probably not. I know I don’t. But they’re the same. Both the fashion model and influencer have been paid to present a “perfect” persona.

Yet, we still mentally categorize these influencers as normal people. We classify these photos as “everyday life pictures” and group them together with our family and friends’ pictures. Even worse, we group them together with our own photos. This then causes us to compare ourselves to them, which is essentially comparing our lives to content that is very styled, very edited, and very planned, no matter how candid it may appear.

While we can’t always control what we come across on social media or what we are exposed to in life, we can control how we perceive things. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to an influencer, make that differentiation between “real life” and “advertisement.”

I’d like to end this post by stressing just how impactful words are. Just look at the term “influencer.” The word alone is incredibly powerful. The term “influencer” implies that they influence you to do something or believe in something. However, we ALL have influence, whether we’re a social media influencer or not. We have influence over how we react to something. We have influence over our own thoughts. We have influence over our own actions.
Next time you’re scrolling through social media, I encourage you to influence yourself to look at influencers for who they are. Your self-esteem and happiness will thank you for it.

Xoxo,
Michelle

march-events-featuredJoin us at Lilac And Lilies for an eventful June! Please see our event schedule below. Please note, event details are subject to change. Please call the store at 954.530.3109 for questions.


June 1

National Donut Day

  • 20% off all graphic tees
  • Complimentary donuts

We’re celebrating the official start of summer with a Memorial Day SALE!!! Enjoy 20% off Saturday – Monday on special selections! Stock up on everything you need for summer: sandals, beach bags, hats, bikinis and swimwear, accessories, and plenty of summer dresses and apparel from our favorite designers.

Saturday, May 26: 20% off Beachwear

Sunday, May 27: 20% off Accessories

Monday, May 28: 20% off Clothing

The fun kicks off Saturday and continues through Monday!

If you haven’t made plans for Memorial Day yet, it’s time to get started. After all, the holiday weekend is right around the corner. In the past, I’ve typically stayed in my home base of Fort Lauderdale. It is no shock that I love everything about it: the businesses, the people, the atmosphere… everything.

However, I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to different places for Memorial Day weekend. I always think it’s great to escape for a few days and truly unwind. After all, there comes a time in every business owner’s life where you just need to disconnect. As an entrepreneur myself, I know how important it is to take a break from creating, building, growing and learning. Here, I’ve come up with a list of my top five Memorial Day destinations.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Riviera Maya’s name alone brings up images of pristine water, white-sand beaches, sun-drenched days and margaritas. It’s true— you really can find all of these here. Make a trip to this oasis for a whiff of the Caribbean and a taste of the good life. Most all-inclusive resorts offer some really great rates over Memorial Day weekend since many Americans tend to stay a little closer to home. Yes, please!

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Forget Palm Beach or the Hamptons. Cape Cod is the real playground of the rich and famous. Think the Kennedys, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Taylor Swift. From politicians to actors to musicians, everyone has purchased a home here. And it’s for good reason. Although the water may not be warm enough for a swim, you can still enjoy a stroll down the beach and visit some of the area’s stunning lighthouses for a beach vacay unlike any other.

Palm Springs, California

I know what you may be thinking: do I really want to spend my Memorial Day weekend somewhere that doesn’t have a beach? Don’t fret. With a variety of dining & spa options, Palm Springs is the perfect destination for the long weekend. Soak up some sun and sip on cool cocktails poolside at one of the city’s many stylish boutique hotels. Memorial Day also marks the end of bearable temps out in the desert, so many properties run great specials over the holiday. Who doesn’t love a good deal?

Miami, Florida

This time of the year in the Magic City typically means comfortable temperatures. My personal favorite place to stay? The swanky, yet approachable Soho Beach House. However, be warned: Memorial Day weekend happens to fall during Urban Beach Week, which draws over 300,000 participants to South Beach. If crowds aren’t your thing, head on over to the Brickell area. With a plethora of shops and waterfront restaurants (hey, American Social), you won’t be missing out.

Austin, Texas

Last but not least: Austin. With its Tex-Mex joints, bustling music clubs and scenic walking trails, this city is making a name for itself. Not only does the Texas capital gets some of its best weather around this holiday, but Memorial Day weekend kicks off the boating season. Head on over to Lake Travis or enjoy a swim at Lady Bird Lake.

I hope my suggestions help! Let me know in the comment section below if any of you will be visiting these places to celebrate Memorial Day. Cheers to the long weekend!

Xoxo,
Michelle

 

Photos: JetSetter.com

I recently sat down with Thrive Global to share my top “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me”. Read the interview below or click here to see it on Thrive.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle DiMarco, a South Florida based small business owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Michelle’s award-winning boutique, Lilac And Lilies, just celebrated its ninth anniversary in business and is dedicated to sourcing up-and-coming designers from both coasts. Her female entrepreneur film, Small Business, Big Dreams, was screened at The Palm Beach International Film Festival, and her blog aims to help women achieve daily inspiration and success in the retail industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I was just coming home to Florida after graduating from FIT and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew one thing and that was I could never see myself working for someone, and I wasn’t afraid of hard work. Asking myself “what if” or “I wish I would have” wasn’t an option. So in 2009, in the midst of a recession, I decided to open Lilac And Lilies Boutique. We are now in our 9th year, and I’m proud to say we have been featured on major television networks and received numerous awards throughout the years.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?

When celebrities come to the store is always equally funny as it is interesting. Shaquille O’Neal, Jason Taylor, Dan Marino, Kathy Wakile from The Housewives of New Jersey and the cast of Basketball Wives of Miami have all been to the store. Watching these celebrities interact with customers and our staff is most definitely interesting.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What I think makes Lilac And Lilies stand out is that I hand pick unique styles that I personally love and curate them into an ever-changing, always growing collection for our fashion-forward clientele. I want my shoppers to stand out as individuals on a daily basis through my selections. At Lilac And Lilies, you can expect to find reasonably priced and sought-after dresses, tops, skirts, and jackets nestled among embellished displays of accessories, gifts, and other stylish curiosities.

Our unique shopping experience is enhanced with in-store stylists, designer trunk shows and monthly special events designed to connect like-minded women. We pride ourselves on extending a family-like atmosphere to each customer. Many of our customers have been shopping with us for years. We have seen them get engaged, married and have children.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

When I was first beginning my career, I crossed paths with a businessman named Ronnie. He believed in me enough to want to become my business partner and has been instrumental in helping the company grow.

I remember this story like it was yesterday. I was attending my first tradeshow (mind you it was during the recession) in New York City, and the odds were against me. The wholesale vendors were hesitant to sell to me because I was brand new and a lot of other stores were going out of business. It was almost impossible for me to place orders. I called Ronnie from a bathroom hysterically crying. He said to me “Wash your face and get back out there. I promise you one day they will know who you are.”

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

How are we making a difference? I ask myself and our team that question often. We have built a following on our social media platform and we use that platform to raise awareness for various organizations and charities. I also love to share my personal and professional trials and tribulations with other women. I use our blog to give back knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration. I also use the platform to showcase incredible people who are redefining roles and doing amazing things.

Personally, I volunteer at Kids In Distress, and I am on the board of The Humane Society of Broward County. I am very aware we are in an over-saturated market that is not need-based, but want-based. To earn a living off of what we do is a blessing, and giving back is the least I can do.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale.

I was taking a course at FIT and it was a recommended book on our list. I read it, reread it and made flash cards. It has helped me tremendously, and it trains your brain to think in a more positive way in every aspect of life. I have this book on my kitchen countertop, and the flash cards are taped in my bathroom as a daily reminder. It’s my bible.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You will experience some dark and lonely times. When you start a business you must give it your all, often sacrificing time with friends and family.
  2. Never ever burn bridges.
  3. Cry when you have to.
  4. Surround yourself with people who believe in you.
  5. Some people will be waiting to see you fail. Believe in yourself enough to prove them wrong.
  6. Bonus: When time allows network as much as you can.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

It would be my dad. I’d want to tell him that I created a pretty amazing business.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

march-events-featuredJoin us at Lilac And Lilies for an eventful May! Please see our event schedule below. Please note, event details are subject to change. Please call the store at 954.530.3109 for questions.


May 5

Cinco de Mayo Flash Sale

  • 10% off storewide

May 12

Mother’s Day

  • 20% off storewide
  • Mimosas & Sweet Treats

May 26 – 28

Bikini Trunkshow

  • Exclusive Selection
  • Sips & Sweets

May 26 – 18

Memorial Day Sale

  • Saturday: 20% off beachwear
  • Sunday: 20% off accessories
  • Monday: 20% off clothing

 

Have you heard!? Lilac And Lilies is celebrating its NINTH anniversary, and I’ve put together a calendar of amazing events at the boutique to celebrate you, yes YOU! We would be nothing without your continuous support and love, so I’m dedicating this birthday bash to all of the incredible women who have kept our brand alive. Speaking of incredible women, something really special is happening on Saturday, April 28th. I’ve invited four female trailblazers who are not only inspiring, but totally kick-ass in their respective industries to sit on an interactive panel and take YOUR questions.

You may be wondering; how do you define a trailblazer? Trailblazers are curious. They’re problem solvers. They’re passionate about learning. They know how to take what they learn and turn it into a job. More importantly, they care about empowering others, no matter who they are.

It’s not every day that four dynamic women from varying walks of life get together to shed their truth on navigating the fashion and beauty industries. Join us for a day of conversation, encouragement and inspiration from women who are shifting perspectives.

–  Saturday, March 28th from 10 am to 7 pm // Panel begins at 2 O’CLOCK –

Whether you’re interested in working in beauty or fashion or you’re looking for advice on how to build your own business, our panel will offer real and fresh viewpoints on what it takes to succeed like a #GirlBoss. Bring a notepad and pen because our panelists are about to be dropping some crucial gems that you won’t want to miss!

Without further ado, I’m thrilled to announce our Trailblazers Panel:


Leslie Munsell, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Beauty For Real — @beautyforreal and @lesliemunsell

Leslie is real. She is Beauty For Real. She is a Makeup Maverick. Innovator. Trend Forecaster. Educator. Entrepreneur. #GirlBoss. As the founder of Beauty For Real, Leslie Munsell is diligently on duty 24/7 — making the world, well, a prettier place. With over 25 years’ experience as a celebrity makeup artist, she has worked with the biggest talents in the advertising and fashion worlds and collaborated with legendary photographers including Patrick Demarchelier, Tom Munro, Anne Menke and high-brow designers such as Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Zac Posen. Her A-list clientele includes Mariah Carey, Venus and Serena Williams, Brooklyn Decker, Miranda Kerr, Shakira, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. Leslie’s work has been prominently featured in publications such as W Magazine, Allure, Harper’s BAZAAR, InStyle and Oprah and she has frequently appeared on NBC and CBS as a beauty expert.

 


“Brickellista” Evelyn Torres, lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur — @brickellista

As one of Miami’s top bloggers, Evelyn Torres has become one of the leading voices in fitness, fashion, and Miami. Brickellista started as a Twitter alias in 2009 and has expanded to become a lifestyle blog capturing a Miami girl’s perspective. Evelyn is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, brand ambassador, who also happens to be on the pulse of the Miami social scene. Today, as Founder and Creative Director of BrickellistaFile.com, Evelyn is not only the face of BrickellistaFiles, but oversees the strategy and direction. She is the driving force behind the brand and has built the go-to site for everything Miami.


Marissa Mosseri, fashion blogger and Business Development Manager of PRIV — @marissalynne and @priv

Marissa is a Miami-based blogger and online influencer who shares her personal style, foodie adventures, favorite products, event coverage and worldwide travels with her audience. Marissa also handles Business Development for Priv, the innovative and rapidly growing on-demand beauty and wellness app. Priv has worked with companies including Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Bloomingdale’s, Bumble, WeWork, Hilton, and Macy’s to bring beauty and wellness perks into their offices, or on-site as an event activation.


Caitlin Saucier, fashion influencer and celebrity wardrobe stylist — @saucistyle

Style Expert Caitlin Saucier has been lending her style advice to Floridians since the day her toes hit the sand from the Big Apple. Best known for her “Closet Rehabs,”​ she has also done a number of photoshoots and video advertising campaigns for companies such as Tresemme and NuNaat. Caitlin has styled everyone from top Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras for his Johnnie Walker Blue ad campaign and his editorial in Esquire Magazine Latin America, to interior designer Thom Filicia. Caitlin is currently styling Thom’s ad campaigns and video for the highly anticipated Biscayne Beach development. Furthermore, Caitlin contributes her expertise to THINK Magazine where she has a monthly column of what’s hot now.

Check out our Facebook event for all of the ninth anniversary details! I look forward to seeing you all there!

Xoxo,
Michelle