lilac and lilies forbesToday one of my dreams came true, we were included in Forbes. The article covers how small businesses can compete with big companies during the holidays. Lilac And Lilies Boutique was among other companies such as Handsocks, Crompton Collective and St. Croix Chocolate Company. Forbes.com focuses on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle and garners 29,759,863 viewers a month.

Couldn’t be more more proud of our incredible team and what we have created.

Click here to read the article.

How many times in your life have you been told to ‘brand yourself’ or ‘make sure you leave a lasting impression,”? Well speaking for myself, I would have to say a million times. Girlfriend, your brand is everything – it’s who you are. It stands for what you do, and why you do what you do. Your journey as an individual is a part of your brand and your product. Be proud of it and show it!

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room,” is a quote that I live by religiously. Just think about it for a second. You enter a room and you make an impression. When you leave, what will people think? What will people think of your business? Are they interested? (Have I made you think today? Good!)

Day in and day out, you’re a walking advertisement of yourself and your product. Just like Anna Wintour is to Vogue and Steve Jobs was to Apple – their brands followed them and vice versa.

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As a business owner, I have to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Lilac And Lilies is an expression of who I am. From the fashion and accessories, I hand-pick for the boutique, to the music we play in store, it all comes down to my brand which is essentially me.

It wasn’t always easy for me to practice this. To be honest, it was hard as hell trying to merge our two identities. I was starting a business, had just moved back to Florida and honestly still grasping with life as an ambitious young woman. There were lessons I learned and some that I am still learning.

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear, shaping your personal brand is extremely important. Below are some personal tips that have helped me out, and I want to share with my favorite people:

1. Understand yourself and be true to who you are

Honey, you do not, and I repeat, do not want to build YOUR personal brand around something you are not. Can you just imagine how exhausting that would be? You would have to act a certain way, appear a certain way, and say certain things every day, regardless of how you felt about it. Damn, I am already winded just thinking about that. More wine, please! Be you and be authentic. That is what will ultimately lead to success in the long run.

2. Pitch, pitch, pitch yourself

Yes, you heard me. Pitch YOURSELF. Not your company or product, but the genuine and amazing you. I would recommend starting with some speaking engagements or applying for industry awards. These are opportunities to be seen and heard while also building your freaking amazing credibility. Viewers will begin to make a connection with you and be interested in what you are offering. Start small, and keep building. When I speak at events, I speak from the soul. I share my true opinions. If I can make at least one connection with someone in the room then I have succeeded.

michelle dimarco

3. Make your online presence remarkable

I don’t think it comes as any surprise that I have to mention social media or even the World Wide Web (Do people still call it that?). These days you can find anything online, and I mean anything including you. How does your online presence look? Is it something you yourself would be interested in? Social media is what people confide in when they want to get to know somebody. Do your channels represent you truly? Do they present you in the best light possible? It is always a good rule of thumb to never put something online that your grandmother wouldn’t approve.

 

I could have written a book on what I thought my life would be like.  Growing up, I imagined a devoted husband, the perfect 2.5 caring children and a shiny white picket fence in the suburbs.  An ideal life for a Stepford wife, but that’s not where the universe decided to take me, and I’m totally fine with that.

Instead, I am single (and dating, adventurously!), I own my own successful business and I have nowhere near 2.5 children.  And you know what?  I am exactly where I am meant to be.

So many of us have a cookie cutter model mapped out for our lives, but then we get thrown for a loop when fate decides to take us in a different direction.  Instead of cursing the universe, like I know we all want to, take a deep breath and surrender.  Just like taking a breath and falling into a not-so-comfy yoga pose, take a deep breath and let yourself fall into the arms of the universe and all that it has planned for you.

Take me, for example, who at 31 decided that I didn’t necessarily need to rely on a husband or children to find my sense of purpose. Instead, I pulled up my metaphorical bootstraps and decided to start my own business, Lilac And Lilies, which became my baby over time.  I’ve watched it grow and develop, and I couldn’t be prouder of all the work I’ve done to make it what it is today.

Beyond finding my own sense of fulfillment, I’ve been truly honored and inspired to see all of the dedicated female business owners who have followed in my footsteps.  I hope to see more individuals embracing different paths to success in the future; after all, I myself could not be happier with the path that fate decided to take me.

Whatever your path may be, I hope that it satisfies you; everyone deserves to find their version of success—even if there is no picket fence involved.

It’s 6:30 in the morning and all I can think about is what I have planned for today, tomorrow and this weekend. When did I get so busy? I’m sipping on my second cup of coffee and running through today’s agenda, which is looking pretty full. I’ll be lucky to whip up a protein smoothie in between meetings and errands.


I choose to stay busy because that’s what works for me. I’m energized by new business ventures, inspiring projects, events and of course spending time with my family and friends. However, there is something to be said for spending time by yourself. I am actually a huge advocate for this and have learned to embrace it as a result of a serious relationship ending. It is during these times you grow as a person and gain insight on becoming a better version of yourself. Sometimes you have to figure out what your alone time looks like. For some its eating by themselves or going to a movie. For me, I find that my most cherished time alone is when I travel.

It’s my thing. It includes just one bag, just one person and a itch to explore. The fact that I curate my solo adventures, stumble upon unexpected explorations and meet some pretty cool people along the way are what makes me appreciate life so much more. I have been to many places on solo adventures, both in the US and internationally. Yes, wanderlust destinations known for picturesque honeymoons and insta-worthy girls trips. Some of my best memories have been made during these times. I ate my way through France and experienced my first bomb scare there, may or may not have been on the back of a scooter driven by a sexy Italian man who (may or may not have) took me to a secluded beach where we drank wine and swam naked in the Amalfi coast, visited a orphanage in Thailand and rode on the back of an elephant through the river and a few more that I will leave for a future post.

Its during these times that I find myself and my voice as a individual. Without outside pressures you can form your own opinions and learn to embrace and appreciate the person you are before allowing others to appreciate you. Finding who you are, just you, without a title being attached to it. As author Marya Mannes says, “The greatest omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space free from outside pressure which is the incubator of the spirit.”

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I still look over my shoulder every single time I unlock my front door…

Fifteen years ago, I was attacked from behind in the hallway of my apartment building but the memories are as vivid as yesterday.

I was attacked right outside my front door. I am still haunted by the memory of his large, sweaty hand covering my mouth as he grabbed me from behind. One look into his sinister eyes and I knew that if he got me inside my apartment something very bad would happen.

According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. The majority of these assaults occur at, or near, the victim’s home. In addition, one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. One out of six! Those are sobering statistics. Think about those statistics on your next girl’s night out. Someone in your group of close friends has been victimized.

I knew I had to fight my attacker…time stood still. A struggle outside my door ensued in what felt like slow motion. At some point during the altercation, I had a clear shot of punching him between his legs, and I did just that. That’s when he released me from his grip and began running away. I ran after him screaming for someone to stop him. He was eventually caught, the police arrived after my neighbor dialed 911 and that son of a bitch went to jail.

I am sharing my story to hopefully inspire other women to speak up much like Taylor Swift’s sexual assault case inspired fellow survivors to seek help.

It took me a long time to find the words to share my very personal and raw story. However, there is strength in coming forward and pursuing justice.

The night before my attack, I was celebrating the holidays with my two best friends with lots of wine and laughter. The thought never crossed my mind that I would become our group’s “statistic” the next day as a victim of attempted sexual assault.

I hope that by sharing my very private and personal experience with you, it inspires other women to stand up to perpetrators. Working with so many women through business and fashion, I couldn’t neglect taking advantage of my professional platform to share the message that it’s “OK” to speak up.

Did you know that only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are even reported to police. Why do we insist on keeping quiet? Why do we insist on devaluing ourselves and our safety? Don’t assume your assault is personal because its public, very public, and it’s always important enough to report.

I’ve always been very vocal about standing up for what I believe in. Especially when it comes to equality. I remember when I was 10 years old shopping with my Cuban mother at the Sawgrass Mills Mall when I heard the cashier say to the family standing in front of us “you damn Cubans”. Even at that young age, I recognized prejudice and I demanded to speak to the manager. This is my first recollection of knowing I had a voice and ever since then I haven’t been afraid to use it.

Today I am using my voice to share my story to let others know that they aren’t alone. Share your experiences. Share your feelings. Share the sisterhood so we can come together to share in hope!

(Statistics Source: RAINN)

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People are always asking me about my story. The truth is my story began as a young girl laying on my mom’s bed flipping through the pages of Vogue. I envisioned a life of fashion, design and expression — I grew up but my dreams didn’t. I moved to South Florida, opened the boutique and struggled through the obstacles of owning a business. The early days were hard, but I took a deep breathe, swallowed my fears, and woke up the next day to do it all over again. I had to dig deep and eventually the store started gaining traction. There was and still is this constant competition within myself to be better than I was yesterday. Some people live for the day they don’t have to do anything; I live for the day when I can wake up and realize everything I’m doing matters.

​There are plenty of highs and lows being an entrepreneur. And I’ll be proudly sharing them as a guest speaker at the screening of Dream, Girl, Thursday, December 8th at The Classic Gateway Theatre. Join me and other female entrepreneurs for a night of networking and the film screening of Dream, Girl featuring extraordinary individuals that live life intentionally, create great social impact, and bring inspiration to others.

Click here to RSVP

img_9541Name: Kim Phan
Company: Yumi Kim
Age: A lady never tells 🙂
IG: @YumiKim
Website: YumiKim.com

How did you get to where you are today?
Lots of hard work and sleepless nights!! Fortunately, I love what I do. My passion is what drives me to never give up. It’s the reason I wake up everyday grateful to be able to live out my dream of owning a fashion company.

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What is your elevator pitch on what you do?
I make women feel pretty. Love dressing them in colorful prints they can dress up or down and take with them on their life travels.

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful?
Success is being able to do what you love. I consider myself blessed.

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What have been the most rewarding things in your career thus far?
Seeing women wearing my designs. It stills wows me every time I see a woman in one of my pieces. It’s that pinch me I’m dreaming moment, she’s wearing YK!

What have been some of your mistakes? What have you learned from them?
Not trusting my gut. It’s there for a reason and you should always follow it.

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What do you still want to achieve personally and/or professionally?
So much! I learn something new every day and incorporate it into my life. I’m loving all of the new technologies in social media and online shopping. Anything that lets me talk directly to my customer like Snapchat and Instagram Stories.

What has been your greatest inspiration?
My mother. She is the strongest woman I know and she’s taught me how to be strong, loving, and the best role model to those around me.

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When was the last time you cried from something provoked by work?
I cry over spilled milk. I’m a softie! I cry when I see sweet comments left on my Instagram.

How has your career affected your personal life/relationships?
It has taught me how to be a professional multi-tasker. I’ve learned how to balance work and play.
Most importantly, it’s taught me the value of time. I don’t have much time in my day, so if I am having dinner, happy hour, or family time, I like to make sure it’s quality time with the people I love.

Have you ever thought about giving up? What provokes these thoughts?
Never! It would make me completely depressed. I’ve worked way too hard to make women happy in the clothes they’re wearing to give up. I would feel like I’m letting the whole world down.

What causes you anxiety/sleepness nights?
In the past it was late shipments and random company issues. Now, I’ve learned to just LET GO. Embrace the storms and rainbows. If it’s meant for you, it will be yours. The universe has a way of bringing it all together.

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img_4256Name: Kristen Hewitt
Company: Fox Sports HEAT Reporter – misMEDIA – mommyinsports.com
Age: the big 4-0
Instagram: @kristenhewitttv
Website: kristenhewitt.me

How did you get to where you are today?
I have worked in sports broadcasting for 19 years, working for the HEAT is a dream come true, but took HARD work and perseverance to be on-air in this South Florida market. I knew when I was 13 I’d work in the media – and now I love that I can do it part-time, and build my online digital presence at the same time!

What is your elevator pitch on what you do?
I am a 2-time Emmy award winning TV reporter, owner of misMEDIA, and founder of mommy in SPORTS. I am a natural born storyteller, and love to help clients share their story with the world.

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How do you define success? Do you consider yourself “successful”?
I believe success is defined individually. Recently a friend said to me, “I think in a year you’ll be REALLY successful, when you focus on your business.” I replied, “I’m already successful, I’m a mom, who gets to work outside the home during NBA season, and spend the rest of the time raising my girls.”

What have been some of the most rewarding things in your career thus far?
Well, winning Emmy’s is rewarding, as is being able to interview and share stories of athletes off the court. I love meeting their wives, kids, parents – really learning who they are and what helped propel them into their extraordinary sports careers. Also, my blog is really my baby. I didn’t know what a blog was three years ago, to be named BEST BLOG MIAMI this year was a huge honor. I love writing, and knowing that people enjoy reading it means the world to me.

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What have been some of your mistakes? What have you learned from them?
Mistakes, I have made many of them. But I don’t think we can succeed until we’ve failed. I’ve had many missteps, taken the wrong job in the wrong sport, or mispronounced a name on the air, but they just taught me to always be smarter. Always be over prepared. And always be authentic.

What do you still want to achieve personally and/or professionally?
I haven’t even scratched the surface with what I want to do yet! I want to publish my kids book I’ve written, finally launch my podcast, do more web videos, and write a book. Then move to the mountains, ski every day, and retire and open a bakery!

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Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration is my kids. They teach me SO much about life every day, and make me strive to be the best version of myself. And I wouldn’t have had to freedom to try writing if it wasn’t for my supportive husband, he’s a saint. I’m very lucky.

When was the last time you were overwhelmed and cried from something provoked by work?
Working on live TV can be overwhelming, but I don’t think I’ve ever cried. I get overwhelmed more by my “day” job, the freelance writing assignments and blog work. I have problems with time management and sometimes take too much on. The good thing is- I’ve learned to say no. There’s so much power inside that little word!

How has your career affected your personal life/relationships?
My career is a little nutty, so all of my free time goes to my family. I really have to schedule in time for my friends. I literally set a reminder in my phone to call a different friend three times a week to maintain contact.

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Have you ever thought about giving up? What provokes those thoughts?
I want to give up about every six month when burn out sets in. Then usually a 2 week-break from social media usually recharges me!

What causes you anxiety/sleepless nights?
Well babies keep me up at night, and anxiety when they’re sick. But I’m usually only anxious when I travel and have a big shoot for a brand. I prefer to work at home, which is why after kids I never pursued full-time sideline reporting jobs. I miss my kids too much!

What makes you happy?
Long hot baths, a Sprinkles cupcake, swimming with my family, hot yoga, Friday night movie nights, the Rocky Mountains and lots of snow, and TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. I want to renew my wedding vows just so I can go to Kleinfelds!

What advice would you tell your 21 year old self?
Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about you, LOVE YOURSELF.

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
People think I’m Ticketmaster. Newsflash, I don’t have endless amounts of free tickets to every sporting event or concert across the country! And I don’t hang out with the players. I keep a professional distance, always have. And I’ve never ONCE asked for an autograph without going through a PR professional.

What is your favorite quote?
I have SO many favorite quotes I wish I could list them all! I’m currently obsessed with every quote by Jen Sincero who wrote “You Are a Badass”. But I think one of my favs is “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are” by EE Cummings. That was my goal this year when I turned 40 – to become fearlessly authentic. I wrote a post about my favorite quotes!

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Now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to prop up my heel-stressed feet after a whirlwind of fashion chaos at this year’s New York Fashion Week I can finally take a break, collect my thoughts and focus my energy on translating the best trends I saw to fit our unique South Florida flare.  Here’s my recap of the world’s most fashionable week, the people that attended and how you can interpret the most coveted pieces into your wardrobe.

Last week after flying into the City, I made my way to my new home for the next few days: the iconic New York EDITION Hotel. I was, thankfully, properly dressed in travel-friendly yet polished attire because there were swarms of paparazzi stalking the hotel entrance to snap pictures of all the celebrities that were staying there, including the fashion queen, Victoria Beckham.

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My week began on Monday with the Zac Posen ready-to-wear show at Spring Studios. I scored a front row seat next to the bold Miss J from America’s Next Top Model. We were both rocking a classic charcoal palette; Miss J in an iridescent black pleated frock while I strutted around in a gray body-con dress by Miami designer Sen.

Miss J America’s Next Top Model

The Zac Posen show was an artful mix of both day and evening wear. The line was composed of floral prints and textures with dresses reminiscent of 1950’s femininity contrasted by edgier biker-cut necklines on the otherwise delicate jackets. The attention to surface details and the celebration of womanly silhouettes did not go unnoticed. After the show, I went behind the scenes for a personal meet-and-greet with Zac. He was just as gracious and endearing as his Spring collection!

Zac Posen new york fashion week

A few days later I was invited to an intimate presentation of Diane von Furstenberg’s 2017 Spring collection at the DVF flagship store in the Meatpacking District. The show was a testament to Jonathan Saunders’ talent as new Chief Creative Officer of the brand. The famous wrap-dress that launched the company’s success was reinterpreted by playing with fabric movement and alternating lengths. The collection also included a fabulous blend of saturated florals, stripes and color-blocking, giving fashion-forward businesswomen everywhere another reason to bow down to the DVF legacy.

The week was a delightfully dizzying experience. I got a chance to sip champagne with fashion’s finest (shout out to my gal and fashion blogger Christie Ferrari who took over the Lilac And Lilies Instagram Story) and gather inspiration for the shop.

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As you can imagine, there were a lot of beautiful pieces and people but the most notable trends this season were luxurious over-the-knee boots, pajama inspired ensembles and slip dresses, and dramatic layering. In other words, looks that make perfect wardrobe updates for our one-of-a-kind fearless Floridians.

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NazaHenna

Name: Nazha Nasfin
Company: Naza Henna
Age: 32
Instagram: @nazahenna
Website: Naza Henna

How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up with henna in my culture, used during celebrations, holidays and weddings. I fell in love with the art form at a very young age, I think 10. I continued to apply it with a toothpick out of a bowl, not knowing how to mix it properly or apply it efficiently. When the internet came to life, I started to study and apply the techniques on myself and roommates in college. I also went to school for fine arts, which helped me grow as an artist. After graduation, I turned the hobby into a business.

What is your elevator pitch on what you do? I’m fortunate for the fact that my art speaks for itself. I’m always doodling on myself to try out new ideas for designs and when I’m around people, I find that they fawn over my Henna. I simply give them a brief overview on the harmlessness of the Henna and how it lasts for about a week or so. Before I know it, business cards are exchanged!

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself “successful”? I definitely feel that I’m successful. I believe that when a person outlines a set of goals for themselves and manages to achieve them, then they should feel successful. Whether it’s something as small as walking a couple of miles a week or graduating from a university, everyone has something that they eventually accomplish and should feel successful about.

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What have been some of the most rewarding things in your career thus far? The ability to not only do what I’m passionate about, but most importantly, be able to share this art form with so many people. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to employ and train other artists who have an interest in fine arts, as we all know, being an artist doesn’t always pay the bills! So helping other artists utilize their talents in a successful way makes me very proud.  It’s also satisfying to see the smiles of my clients when they see the finished product. It’s what keeps me going.

What have been some of your mistakes? What have you learned from them? Like any artist and entrepreneur, I have made many mistakes and one in particular was attempting going into business for myself full time before I was ready. Sometimes as an artist you get over eager when things are going well and people are interested in what you do. Unfortunately, I made the initial mistake of not having the business side in order and that brought on a lot of challenging situations.

What do you still want to achieve personally and/or professionally? Personally I would love to raise a family. Professionally, I want to grow my brand and make my product line of balms, handcrafted items and apparel available nationally.

Who has been your greatest inspiration? I am inspired by any woman that has broken out of their social norm to become a leader in her own right. I was raised in a conservative Islamic home that wasn’t able or willing to assimilate into the American culture. I was expected to go to school and become a doctor or a lawyer or at least marry one lol. Becoming an artist was frowned upon. I have a lot of respect and admiration for women all over the world that found the strength and courage to step up and set an example. I love it when any woman proves that we can do whatever we want and be successful doing it!

Naza Henna naza henna
When was the last time you were overwhelmed and cried from something provoked by work? I found myself overwhelmed earlier this year when my business began to grow at an exponential rate. It was tough keeping up with the demand of my clientele and finding ways to create a balance with my personal life and not work 14hour days!

How has your career affected your personal life/relationships? It can be tough balancing personal life with business responsibilities. However, everyone in my circle has been incredibly supportive and helped me to grow as a woman and as an entrepreneur. I feel that my career can at times take a toll on my social life, but because I have the right people around me, we’ve all become even closer.

Have you ever thought about giving up? What provokes those thoughts? The thought has crossed my mind before going fulltime for my business.  I of course worked a full-time corporate job for 10 years while growing my business on the side. The fear of not having a steady paycheck or benefits is something that can be very intimidating when trying to venture off on your own. Almost like leaving the safety nest of your parents’ home lol. Now that I have ripped that scary band aid off, I’m doing what I love, every day. I work harder than I ever have, but I am very fulfilled and humbly living my dream. I don’t think anyone can ask for anything better.

What causes you anxiety/sleepless nights? Sometimes I find myself dreaming in hashtags. I’m always coming up with new ideas and marketing strategies and it can keep me up at night. The problem with working for yourself and growing your own company is that your mind is constantly in work mode.

Naza Henna  Naza Henna

What makes you happy? Being a couch potato with my boyfriend and our pets. It’s the best feeling in the world!

What advice would you tell your 21 year old self? I would tell 21 year old Nazha to take more risks for herself professionally and to not be afraid of sacrificing certain things. Oh, and to retain the shape I achieved at age 25, because our metabolism will never be the same!

What is the biggest misconception about what you do?  There’s still a learning curve on what henna is, where it comes from and the safety of it. I am constantly education clients about the organic and natural henna recipes I use and to avoid black henna, which has PPD (hair dye).

What is your favorite quote? “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson