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Meet Ellen Dayan of Tiger Lily Dress Shop in Moon Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ellen Dayan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ellen. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began sewing for my daughter when she was just a baby. I made her the cutest little dresses and saved them all up until she could walk and show them off. To my surprise, my daughter refused to wear any dresses at all and I was stuck. What could I do with all of those beautiful little flouncy dresses? A friend suggested that I try selling them, and that’s how my sewing hobby and little design business began about 25 years ago. Sewing remained a side activity and hobby until I started making costumes for children’s musical theater, and then little boiled wool coats with fabric covered buttons and embroidery that I sold in NYC. That was great fun, but my career, motherhood, and life made continuing those efforts impossible for many years. About 3 years ago I had an opportunity to make a transition from teaching and school administration back to sewing and clothing design. I love the time I get to spend using my creativity to make unusual garments for women, many made of materials that might’ve been discarded. I like making clothing that moves, is bright and colorful, and has unusual “artsy” silhouettes. Now I am working hard to establish my brand, Tiger Lily Dress Shop, as a source of one-of-a-kind wearable art masterpieces made with the health of our planet in mind.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road has been a challenge in some ways, mostly because it’s difficult to find a niche in the fashion industry. Fashion is so very competitive, and big companies sell products at very low prices. As an American designer and maker, I want to encourage customers to buy American made clothing, and to support ethical manufacturing of apparel. I also would like my customers to value individual articles of clothing more. These changes are possible and I feel like this grassroots movement is gaining momentum. I’m working hard to bring a unique and top quality fashion product to market. My hope is that my work will also benefit others in my community, like all the models, photographers, digital fabric printers, hair stylists, marketing pros, webpage designers, and so many others who help me along the way. If I am successful, they are more successful, too. In time, we can build an innovative and exciting new fashion business model right here in Arizona.

Please tell us about Tiger Lily Dress Shop.
Tiger Lily Dress Shop began as an online boutique for curvy women. Our inventory was purchased from wholesalers in Los Angeles, and we wanted to reach out to plus size women with an artsy fashion appetite. We’ve gone through some changes as we’ve learned more about E commerce, demographics, lifestyle choices, and values of our customers. Most of the changes have been helpful in opening new doors, but we’re still experimenting with the best way to use out talents, skills, and resources to succeed. We are probably best known for making interesting designs in a wide variety of sizes (from 6-3X), and for creating silhouettes that are not “trendy” or common. That strength for artsy flair is where we’re headed now, and we’re confident that our design sensibility isn’t anything like what you’d see at large department stores or online mega shopping sites. We’re happy to slow down, make far fewer items with much greater artistic and material value, and enjoy the process of creating clothing that’s inspired, full of good energy, and striking in a timeless and enduring way.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
The entire road has been necessary to get where we are right now. There is no easy or quick way to discover what your strengths are, who values them, or how to get your treasures out to people who will really appreciate your creative genius. It’s very, very hard work. But it’s also a wonderful journey!


  • Our items range in price from about $75.00 for a blouse to about $5,000.00 for a custom made garment with lots of embroidery or hand work.
  • We ship free to all of our customers who spend $75.00+ in the contiguous USA.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Headshot by Stephanie Marie Blunt Lussier of smlphotography

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