Elizabeth Dye
Running a business

Dream dress, dream job: How this wedding vendor designed her business

Business: Elizabeth Dye

Location: Portland, Oregon

Industry: Creative services

Business challenge: Creating business-to-business and direct-to-consumer invoicing systems and tracking inventory over time.

Elizabeth Dye

For more than 20 years, Elizabeth Dye has been designing an eponymous line of wedding gowns for brides who won't find their dream dress at traditional bridal shops. As her small business has expanded, she's developed two distinct lines of revenue: selling wholesale to boutiques around the world, and selling directly to customers online and at her showroom in Portland, OR.

Starting a business: Filling a bridal niche 

After getting a Master's in English and spending a year in law school, Dye decided to recalibrate.

"My decision to become an entrepreneur was very directly linked to my need to pay off student loans," Dye says. "I was in Portland in the early 2000s, which was a very entrepreneurial time, I would say. The city was just starting the growth spurt that it's been in, and there was just a lot of opportunity." 

The opportunity for Dye to create something new began with her friends, some of whom had "gone to a traditional bridal salon and come home miserable," Dye explains. 

The wedding dresses the brides-to-be found were ultimately not in keeping with their personality or style. So Dye, a naturally crafty person, partnered with her friends to create gowns that let the women express themselves.

"It was a collaboration between those early clients and me to make something that wasn't available, which was a sort of less-traditional dress that was more in keeping with their individual style," Dye says.

Dye had found her small business calling: designing bespoke wedding dresses for non-traditional brides.

"Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I felt this urge to build something that wasn't there, and I saw a need for something that wasn't there," she says.

Dye's business has evolved since she designed those first dresses for her friends. These days, brides can buy Dye's dresses at her showroom, online, or in person at boutiques around the world that carry her brand.

How QuickBooks Online works for your small business

With dual revenue streams from customers who buy directly from Elizabeth Dye and small boutiques that purchase her gowns wholesale, Dye knew she needed to be organized. She uses QuickBooks Online to track her global revenue streams. 

"When you are a small business dealing with other small businesses, everyone's accounting practices are all over the map," she says. "It's definitely easy and just reassuring to have a [digital] paper trail for everything."

It's not just the B2B piece of the accounting equation that's easier. With QuickBooks Payments, customer sales are more convenient for brides making a large purchase.

"We use QuickBooks to manage customer accounts. We use it for recurring invoicing, and to allow customers to pay a deposit and make installment payments so they can pay toward their invoices over time," Dye says.

QuickBooks has also proved helpful in assessing the state of the business, tracking growth, and even making decisions about future dress designs.

"It's also great for end-of-year—seeing how we did year over year, which dresses sold the best. It's always surprising and interesting to run reports and see where everything falls out," Dye says.

Elizabeth Dye

As more of a creative type than a numbers person, Dye has found QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Payments to be exactly the platform she needs to be sure her business thrives both creatively and financially.

"I wish I knew that basically your finance situation is your business, no matter what you're doing and what you're selling. I think many people get into small business focused on the fun part — not that finance can't be the fun part, because it is, just in a different way," she says.

quote image
I wish I knew that basically your finance situation is your business, no matter what you're doing and what you're selling.

Move, manage, and grow your money

No matter what stage your business is in, QuickBooks can help you manage your business finances.

On-the-job experience: Creating a dream career

Being an entrepreneur isn't always easy, but Dye has found it to be the most rewarding job she could imagine at this point. 

"I always come back to the fact that it's kind of a dream job. I'm sitting right now in my light-filled studio. I have beautiful things to look at and work on every day. And even though there are stresses and hassles and days that it's tedious, I have a gratitude practice around my job," Dye says. "I just look around me at what I'm able to do with most of my time during the day, and I know I have a really wonderful situation."

Dye has found that her personality and skills are a good fit for a small business owner: someone who generates their own work and success; someone who's able to, in many ways, go it alone.

"You have to be willing to deal with a certain amount of risk and uncertainty, and you have to be someone who feels confident and comfortable solving your own problems and finding answers if you don't have them," Dye says.

She nearly took those skills and capacities for granted.

Elizabeth Dye

"I went to a neighborhood block party a couple years ago and met two of my neighbors, who were a firefighter and a nurse, and they said, 'Wedding dress designer? Your job is so stressful!' I was like, you rush in burning buildings, and you save lives. Those sound like stressful jobs to me," she said. "I realized I'm very acclimated to the specific stresses of my job and the specific uncertainties of getting up every day and having to create the work."

As the boss of a small team at Elizabeth Dye, she works to provide the certainty and job satisfaction her employees are looking for—to create a dream job for each of them, too.

"It's important that people feel invested in what we're doing and feel like the successes of the business are their successes as well. I try to create an environment where people are allowed to focus on the things at which they excel and to create a role for themselves where they can succeed," Dye says.

QuickBooks customer paid for their time.

Disclaimers & Product Information

QuickBooks Payments: QuickBooks Payments account subject to eligibility criteria, credit and application approval. Subscription to QuickBooks Online is required. Money movement services are provided by Intuit Payments Inc., licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. For more information about Intuit Payments' money transmission licenses, please visit https://www.intuit.com/legal/licenses/payment-licenses/

This content is for information purposes only and information provided should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does it have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided  should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. cannot warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate, nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

Recommended for you

Mail icon
Get the latest to your inbox
No Thanks

Get the latest to your inbox

Relevant resources to help start, run, and grow your business.

By clicking “Submit,” you agree to permit Intuit to contact you regarding QuickBooks and have read and acknowledge our Privacy Statement.

Thanks for subscribing.

Fresh business resources are headed your way!

Looking for something else?


From big jobs to small tasks, we've got your business covered.

Firm of the Future

Topical articles and news from top pros and Intuit product experts.

QuickBooks Support

Get help with QuickBooks. Find articles, video tutorials, and more.