Michelle DiMarco, 40, fell in love with fashion at an early age by exploring her mother’s closet. Today, she owns Lilac and Lilies Boutique in Fort Lauderdale. Recently rebranded as an interactive warehouse space called The Lilac and Lilies Loft, the boutique offers unique designer apparel, accessories, and beauty products geared to the cosmopolitan customer.
Raised in New Port Richey and Boca Raton by a single mother from Cuba, DiMarco says she enjoyed a healthy independence, especially in recognizing her roots and culture, and in the changing world of fashion.
As a young girl, she remembers playing dress-up. “I would invite my friends over after school, and we hosted our own fashion shows,” she recalls. “Mom dressed me in kooky skirts, cute jeans, and put my hair in pigtails. I knew then that I wanted a fashion career of some sort, and I have always loved street style.”
In 2009, DiMarco launched Lilac and Lilies, a brick-and-mortar fashion boutique specializing in fashion-forward trends and styles for the chic contemporary woman. Her first location was in Lauderdale-by-the Sea.
“I have been shopping at Lilac and Lilies since Michelle opened the store,” says customer Kym Klein. “I hate shopping but love going there because everyone is so helpful. They put together outfits for me because they know the inventory and what I need to look my best. It is a special place where I can buy clothing and accessories to wear all over Fort Lauderdale.”
The store’s unique inventory plays off of DiMarco’s world view and travel experiences. “I visited wherever I could, including Ghana, Thailand, and Shanghai. Travel has helped me grow my business and select merchandise that is appropriate for the needs of my customers,” says DiMarco. “I love how visiting new places awakens me to the world and changes my thinking after seeing how others live.”
Her thought process is what guides her as she hand-selects brands to include in her inventory—like L*Space resortwear (bathing suits, loungewear), Blank NYC (apparel, including denim), ASTR The Label (dresses, bodysuits, tops, bottoms, jumpsuits), itGirl (young and trendy), and Veronica M (maxi dresses, jumpsuits).
“I look for great quality, on trend, and affordable price points,” says DiMarco, who took Lilac and Lilies to the next level in 2011 when she opened a larger boutique on Sunrise Boulevard across from The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale.
Customer Dr. Barbie Fiallo says DiMarco goes out of her way to carry well-made brands that are on trend. “Last year, I bought a dress for New Year’s Eve that was filled with glitter and exactly what I was looking for,” she says. “Even better, you can look up Lilac and Lilies on Instagram, find something you like, call, and they will find the size and get it right away.”
Tracy Reierson loves shopping at Lilac and Lilies because DiMarco has helped her to evolve her style. “Michelle and her team pull different things together and offer more trendy styles than I would have ever created for myself,” she says. “They got me into leather leggings, a cool faux leather jacket, and trendy heels, and I love it.” Local media personality Kavita Channe agrees: “Whether I have a red carpet event, a TV appearance, or a special evening out, Michelle’s team members are simply amazing and on point when they find what looks good on me.”
DiMarco loves offering her clients these kinds of personal touches but admits that providing such great service comes with a few caveats. “I worked so hard, seven days a week, all the time,” she says of her retail career. “I went on buying trips to Atlanta and Las Vegas because I like the West Coast designers. I attended two trade shows a year, always running and busy. I loved it but really pushed myself to the max.”
When the coronavirus hit, she retreated to the Fort Lauderdale townhome she designed four years ago—a safe haven from the threat of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, DiMarco’s fashion aesthetics carry over into her home decor. “My home design style is eclectic. I like whimsical, which fits my personality, not too modern or too traditional,” she says. “I wanted a feminine look with lots of tranquility.”
The cozy casa gave DiMarco the time and space to reevaluate her life—to truly consider what she wanted to do personally and professionally. She researched everything she could about e-commerce and decided to close the Sunrise store and to launch the new Lilac and Lilies Loft on North West 1st Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
In addition to the clothing she’s become known for, she has expanded her business to include beauty products and has begun hosting live events, as well.
“We have photo shoots, host wine and Champagne parties, intimate events, fundraisers for charity, styling sessions, and encourage high-tech activity thanks to the success of Instagram stories,” DiMarco says. “Plus, the Loft is super cute!”
DiMarco’s new endeavor also affords her more personal time to do things outside of work—and enjoy the warmth and comfort of her stylish home. “I have a healthy mix of mind, body, and spirit now,” she says. “I like to come back to my house at the end of the day. Once I get there, I am so happy to be home. I enjoy it all.”