This is a woman with passion as her middle name and her strive for greatness has landed her in many success stories starting at a young age. Her name is Lily Ayala, owner of Divine Décor, a fabulous event planning company committed to exceed expectations. Lily’s love for style and beauty also manifested itself into her second business venture. Cien Boutique, an online clothing store and fashion blog founded with her best friend Erica Minisini. The accomplishments don’t end there and we were so intrigued to hear more about her story. We were so grateful for the chance to ask Lily some questions to get the inside scoop about her unique DNA to share with you.
As a little girl, what did you envision being your career when you grew up?
- I wanted to be a teacher; I used to pretend to have a classroom with my little brother and I would teach math, science, crafts…it was my dream career.
If you could tell the child version of yourself one piece of advice what would it be?
- To slow down and enjoy being young and careless, you grow up so fast and before you know it real life kicks in. You only have one life, live in the moment and do what makes you happiest.
Can you describe the moment you decided that you wanted to open your business? What were the feelings rushing through you at that moment?
- I was in my third year in university when I first decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I remember feeling scared and excited at the same time, I have always been so interested in business. Being so young, I had nothing to lose…it was either I did it then or it would have happened eventually. I quit my part time job and focused on my new venture, it felt so good to be working for myself. All I did for the first year was work; it was all I wanted to do.
Tell me about Divine Décor.
- Where do I start…it seems like a never ending endeavour, it has been 6 years in the making and I can’t believe how much growth we have experienced. We started out as a small rental company and over the years we have expanded into the flourishing business it is today. Our partnership with Fannie’s Florist has allowed us to provide our clients with fresh flowers making us more of a one-stop shop for our clients. Event planning can be stressful, having one vendor do all the design and floral is a big convenience and time saver. We are so fortunate to have built a supporting team who share the same vision as I do, they are amazing and I couldn’t do it without them!
Where did your business start and how did it get to where you are today?
- It started with tables, chairs and tenting. One of the weddings I had booked asked me to do their décor, I decided to give it a try and the outcome was game changing. I had two referral clients after my first job and that’s how it all began. The decor part aligned with my interests a lot more and I really enjoyed it. Throughout the years, the business has been shaped through experience. Every year has been an improvement; we have learned so much through trial and error. We are more focused than ever.
What is your favourite type of event to work on and why?
- I enjoy helping with weddings, they are so unique to every bride and groom. There is always something new and different to look forward to.
What is your best advice for brides planning their big day?
- To stay focused on the important part, marrying your other half and sharing that day with the ones you love most. Weddings come with a lot of stress and I see how it changes the real meaning of a wedding, the one comment I hear most often is “ I can’t wait until it is over”.
What do you love most about what you do?
- I love connecting with my clients and helping them achieve their visions. It isn’t always easy but as a designer I have so many new ideas and things that I want to try. Every time I meet a new client, I can’t wait to see what new project I will be working on. Will it be a simple and rustic evening or a chic-glam affair? Red, blue, pink, purple? There are so many things we can do and the possibilities are endless!
How would your team describe you as a boss?
- I am one of them; I try my best to be as supportive as I can. I want my staff to feel comfortable and confident in their positions and more importantly I want them to excel. We have a close-knit team and we will support each other.
What is a passion project you are working on?
- My passion project is working on Cien Boutique, it started as a hobby while we worked on our blog and has now become a small business in its own. My best friend and I started this two years ago with the focus to showcase and assist women with different styles and looks all within a reasonable reach. Fashion and beauty has always been a passion of mine, I guess that’s why I love what I do so much J
You’re a woman who wears many hats, what are some other things you are involved with?
- I was recently a board member with the Richmond Hospice where I was part of the event committee. I helped organize their annual event at the River Rock casino and increased donations through new initiatives. Last year, I was the vice-president of a Lion’s club where we focused on fundraising to help animal welfare. This year I have turned my efforts towards helping fundraise for a Haitian orphanage. I hosted a volleyball tournament in June where I collected enough funds to start the first phase of the project. It was a huge success. I also help local charities by sponsoring fundraising events.
How would you describe your personal style?
- I love the process of “getting ready” for a night out or a business meeting! I try to keep up with the latest trends and looks. I would describe my style as diverse and versatile. I can switch from a rocker look to a more sophisticated power look within the day if needed. I believe that loving the way you look is key to boosting confidence and just simply feeling good!
Lily is an inspiring woman with a lot of soul behind what she does. When she was asked, if she were to leave a legacy in this world, what do you want to be remembered for? She said she would like to be remembered as a genuine, kind hearted person who helped others succeed and made a difference through mentoring, volunteering and acts of selflessness. And we definitely feel she is on the right track to leaving her imprint wherever she goes.
Follow Lily on her journey at: