How This Mother / Daughter Duo Became Dorm Designers

An interview with Amanda & Karen | Founders of Dormify

Amanda and Karen are not your typical mother-daughter duo.

They actually founded a company together!

Dormify is a one-stop shop to deck out your dorm room with the CUTEST decor!

I seriously wish they were around when I was in college …

You can watch our interview above or read it below because you SERIOUSLY don’t want to miss this! #SQUADGOALS

Meet your dorm decorators …

So, we literally turned to each other like this and said “we need to create our own brand”.

Amanda: When I was shopping for my freshman year dorm room with my mom, like every 17 or 18-year-old is doing, we were going from one store to the next trying to put together a look that was really representative of my style. We couldn’t find twin extra-long bedding that was cool or stylish. I was really into fashion and  just needed to create something that was representative of me. So, after putting together a look, we realized that wasn’t easy and there wasn’t one place to do it. My friends were going through that as well, and so we literally turned to each other like this and said “we need to create our own brand.”

Jen: When you left that store, what happened next? Where did you take the idea?

Amanda: So, we moved in my freshman year and it was an amazing space that we created. People would call my room the hotel suite on the floor because it wasn’t super expensive or elevated, it was just put together really well. We knew that we could instruct other people and help them do the same thing.  So, just to get a proof of concept, we started a blog and we got friends of mine and extended friends of friends to start talking about dorm decor and college life because this was really like the beginning of blogs and Instagram and Pinterest weren’t around yet. So, we wanted to become a leader in the world of decorating inspiration.

Karen: But there was  a spot that happened right before that, because I left Amanda in her beautiful new dorm room and I had to go back to my advertising agency and start figuring out, “what is this thing?” So that’s when the brand building started. That’s when we first named “Dormify” and I was on the phone with Amanda back and forth all the time, talking via email and trying to figure out what this brand was going to be …

Amanda: … and I’m like a freshman: “Like mom, I’m trying to figure out how to be in college!” So, that’s how we got started in building the brand.


image credit: dormify

Jen: What happened after you picked up the name? That that was the first step. How did you start to figure out the rest of the branding?

Amanda: So, we of course came up with the visual identity, with her background in the agency and I was majoring in graphic design and marketing –  I really was interested in design. This wasn’t new to us, we knew what we were doing in a way, but we also thought it was really important to establish that authentic relationship with the customer. So, our brand voice and how we are speaking to customers was one of the more important brand identity pieces. Since I was the target audience, I really knew some of those insights into what our customers really wanted. So, between me and my peers and just living in that actual audience, you know, we are our brand and we delivered that.

Jen: Okay, so you just had the idea, came up with the name, and got a sense of what the brand identity was going to be. You had it in the back of your head you wanted to create original products … ?

Amanda: Yes, that was like a must.

Jen: That was there from the beginning?

Karen: Yes. That’s where we stand apart. We can’t just re-sell … we don’t want to be a portal that’s just reselling other people’s products. We wanted to create something that wasn’t available.

Jen: And then the blog part was just a way to just get going … ?

Amanda: We wanted to have the product but also the content to help everyone that was dealing with what I went through, which was not knowing what to expect when you went to college, not knowing the things that you needed, tips for decor that didn’t ruin the walls … all these things that people just know nothing about. Sat they are the first one in their family to go to school, we wanted to be that cool older sister that helped them along the way.


Jen: I’m curious to know what you think is your secret sauce to success? Why did you guys succeed with this idea versus thousands of other people who tried to start a blog or try to start a business and it just doesn’t take off?

Karen: I think one of the things about entrepreneurship and people starting businesses, is that you have to have a real drive, you’ve really got to put a lot into it. It’s not just like,” I have an idea and I’m going to bring it to life and make it happen.” It takes an extreme amount of effort to make it happen. I think for us, one of the things that I look back on and feel so proud of is that we took an idea to fruition, and I think that’s the hardest thing. So, I don’t think we ever set out to do something like people sometimes think, ‘I want to start a blog and I want to do this’. We just had an idea and we just did it. We didn’t say, “I’m going to write a business plan about it first and then do it” we just did it. So, it’s just like the action and being nimble and making it happen.

Jen: It sounds like you guys have stayed connected to your customer, you’ve just been growing and seeing so much success! So congratulations on everything and one thing I like to do is just always end on a toast. How about we just say, “a toast to Dormify and you two!”



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