Local woman personalizes online shopping

Amanda Disse is not your average stay-at-home mom.

She has four kids, and her workday begins and ends inside her home, but she describes herself as more of a work-from-home mom.

That’s because Disse, as she was contemplating leaving her job as a claims representative for Capital One, began looking for ways that she could make a living without having to sacrifice her time with her kids.

“I was missing everything,” she said. “I couldn’t continue working there without it affecting my family.”

The proverbial last straw was when her youngest child, Christopher, contracted pneumonia.

“I was using all of my [paid time off] to take care of him, and it still wasn’t enough,” she said.

After her departure from the corporate rat race in June of 2018, Disse began her first home-based business that same month, a day care. It took off quickly, and she was up to her capacity within a matter of weeks. 

Then, as she was finding her confidence as a businesswoman, she began to look toward what was her lifelong dream: owning her own clothing boutique. 

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing,” Disse said. “I could never have done it if I hadn’t been at Capital One for so long. Discipline, focus, patience... I learned all of that.”

As with anyone who dreams of a business, Disse said she already had the perfect name picked out.

“Dandelily. It’s a mixture of a flower and weed,” she said. “Basically, Dandelily is for those who might feel like a weed, a dandelion. Then, they find something that makes them feel beautiful, like a lily. It’s all about empowering women, making them feel special, beautiful and confident.”

As with any entrepreneurial endeavor, her boutique was not without risk. Disse said her initial investment was $11,000, completely cleaning out her savings.

“We started slow. We were in the red for the first couple months,” she said.

The idea of running an online boutique isn’t revolutionary. It’s been attempted before, and it’s succeeded before. Disse said she knew that if she was going to survive, she needed to separate herself from her competition. She was looking for ways to stand out. 

“I decided that I wanted to find ways to make Dandelily different from other online retailers,” she said. “I wanted to make the customers feel like they were more than just another dollar sign.”

An online boutique may not be a revolutionary concept, but an online store that goes out of their way to personalize your shopping experience? 

“That’s when it started to take off,” she said.

She began learning a little about her customers, and finding pictures of them from social media to decorate the packaging. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way.

“It’s all about making people feel beautiful,” she said.

After rolling the dice with her life savings on the line, Dandelily Boutique has been operating in the black for several months, and recently became the first online-only retailer to win The Central Virginian’s Reader’s Choice Award for favorite clothing store. 

“I was in shock,” she said. “[A friend of mine] told me that I was nominated, and I was really surprised and honored, but I thought there was no chance of me winning. Zero.”

Disse said she has yet to take a paycheck from Dandelily. She reinvests every cent. 

“We are focusing on growing the business right now,” she said. 

The reinvestment has helped her secure business space nearby, in the Bumpass area, as well as a larger direct-to-garment printer that can make four shirts at a time. With awards in hand, and growth on the horizon, Disse said the future is looking bright.

“I can’t wait for people to see what we can do with a little more space and equipment.” 

Dandelily can be found at shopdandelily.com.