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MCS Spotlight: Alumni Amanda Ly, 20

Read about Amanda’s incredible entrepreneurial endeavors

By: Ava Sekowski

Photo Credit: Amanda Ly

Meet MCS alum, Amanda Ly. 

Amanda Ly graduated from UMBC in 2020 with a Media and Communication Studies degree and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. After graduation, she combined her love for plants and her passion for entrepreneurship to create Opalescent Soul Garden Co. (@opalescentsoulgardenco). Her business sells unique plants of all kinds as well as handmade pottery and other trinkets. 

This is not Amanda's first entrepreneurial endeavor. Amanda has started small companies for as long as she can remember; from dog walking to tutoring to nails to makeup. Even during her time in college, she balanced her classes and small businesses alongside her job working in a marketing agency. She is an entrepreneur at heart. As she says her “brain is always in branding or design mode.” 

Q. Why did you choose MCS?

“I wanted to start a business like I always knew that. So I was like, okay, business school, right? But business school was more for people who want to go into finance and corporate business. And once I was like at the beginning of working on that major at community college, Montgomery College, I realized it wasn't what I needed to do.

I decided then that I wanted to go into marketing. So I worked for a marketing firm and I transferred to UMBC. I switched to MCS because I realized it's broader and it was more marketing-focused rather than business and finance and corporate economics.

So that's what brought me to the MCS Major and I enjoyed it.”

Amanda says she learned many valuable skills in her MCS classes. Skills like branding, marketing, and design applied to growing and sustaining her business. 

Q. What got you interested in starting your own business?

“I've kind of been an entrepreneur my whole life. My first jobs were just babysitting, dog sitting, and house sitting. And then I worked on a Kumon and I didn't like it. So before I quit, I made a connection with a few parents. And I told them, ‘hey, I'm leaving, if you want me to tutor your children, I can do that.’ So I had a tutoring company. Then after that, I was a makeup artist and I also did nails.” 

Q. Why did you start Opalescent Soul Garden Co.?

“So I started trading for fun, just like getting other types of plants. And then it kind of shifted into selling because I had plants that a lot of people wanted. A lot of the more obscure varieties of plants, rare plants. I think I saw a need and I also just graduated and I was looking for a new job because my marketing job was kind of a dead end. 

But yeah, I think I saw a need, and I also just graduated in 2020 and I was looking for a new job.”

Q. I heard you were part of the founding team for Oca Mocha, what was that like? 

“It was a fantastic experience. I'm good friends with Michael Berardi and he's one of the OG founders of Oca Mocha. It was in his entrepreneurship class where that idea was born. I joined the board about a year later when it was kind of still in its infancy, but the Office of Institutional Advancement had picked it up. My primary job was marketing and social media.”

Her advice for anyone interested in starting a business would be to “go work for someone, go work at the thing you want to do. Try to identify what you like about a business, and what you don't like about it. Find the one that lines up with you and go work there because you are going to get paid to learn about the thing you want to do.”


Posted: February 23, 2023, 10:33 AM