Proving that women really can do it all, Tori, a 33-year-old mother of 3, started her online business from home in 2014. Within the first year of operation, Pink Lily had hit the multi-million dollar mark. The next 3 years had Pink Lily achieving over 30 million dollars in sales.
Pink Lily is a leader in the industry of online boutique fashion, becoming an Inc. 5000 Company in 2018, and since then, growing 50% every year. Tori’s women-led company has over 80 full-time employees, and her ability to continue to manage this power-woman CEO role while being a mother to young children displays a sense of admirable balance.
Tell us something about yourself?
I really love being a working mom. Though I do face challenges with this lifestyle, knowing that I get to set an example for my daughters as they grow is something that feels really rewarding to me. To show them what it’s like to have a mom as a CEO and industry leader with a deep presence in the company is something that I feel is modeling for them that they too can go after their dreams and succeed in life.
What is your entrepreneur’s story? How did you come about building your business
My story is one of those true American Dream stories. We had humble beginnings, starting the business straight from my living room in 2014.
I’d always loved fashion and shopping, and at this time, I was doing a lot more of my shopping online. I noticed that there weren’t many online boutiques, and with my marketing and social media passion, I was inspired to use those skills to see how I could enter the industry and create a business opportunity.
I honestly thought it would just be a side hobby, and I had no idea just how big it could really get. In the early stages, people came to my house to shop and for a good 6 months, I even sold items right out of my trunk.
Once we started the website though, this is where things really took off. We started receiving hundreds of orders a day and quickly grew our Facebook page for more exposure. Within the first 6 months, we had done over a million dollars in sales.
We opened a warehouse just 6 months into the business which we outgrew quickly, having to move to a 3000 square foot warehouse to house our growing stock. Again, our business expanded so rapidly that we filled this warehouse and decided to buy land and build our current 50,000 square foot warehouse which we operate out of today.
What is your business model — how were you able to grow so fast?
I put it down to social media and ads — and of course, consistency in our focus and efforts. Though to have the knowledge of marketing through social media and ads was really what helped us to get our foot off the ground in 2014. We started with only a small amount of inventory and money when we launched the site and reinvested all of the profits back into running more ads, as well as stocking up on inventory to quickly scale the business.
Can you give me an overview of who you are, what is your educational or overall background? What are some of your achievements?
I’m a small-town Kentucky girl at heart. I grew up in a middle-class family, my mother a teacher and dad a factory worker. I paid for my own college tuition and bills as soon as I turned 18, working 2 jobs all throughout my studies. I graduated with a degree from WKU in Marketing and Sales.
Some of my most notable achievements in my working career include:
- Awarded 2018 Bowling Green Entrepreneur of the year
- Featured on Forbes.com, HuffPost, and Entrepreneur.com
- Built an Inc. 5000 company from the ground up.
What have you learned through your experiences as an entrepreneur that can be used by aspiring business individuals?
One of the most valuable lessons that I’ve received through being an entrepreneur, creating and running my own business, is that no one else will ever care as much about the business as you.
No matter how many employees you have, ultimately it’s your baby, and you’ll always care about it the most.
You will have amazing employees that will assist in the expansion of your business, though there will also be people who come along that don’t really care and just don’t get the vision. If you are consistent with your vision and present to your business, you’ll create a community of employees that are aligned.
Also, be prepared to work all hours of the day and night to be sure that everything is getting done in the right way, especially in the beginning phases. At one point, I was the only buyer, customer service manager, packager, inspector, marketing director, CEO and more.
Basically, it all comes down to doing it all in the beginning until you can scale enough to one day hire for these positions and delegate the work as you grow.
What makes your business so unique and successful?
I would say that we enjoy this success mostly due to the fact that our customers can really relate to our brand — they envision themselves wearing what we are selling and it feels relatable. We don’t use high-end fashion models; we use real women to promote our brand.
We also provide additional value in trying our pieces on several girls of all shapes and sizes in the warehouse, to ensure that the real-life customer can wear what we’re offering and feel great in it.
We also place a high value on connecting with our customers over social media, rather than having little-to-no contact with our followers. We stay engaged, and that creates engagement.
What have you learned through your journey as an entrepreneur?
So many lessons! Though to summarize the main takeaways from my journey as an entrepreneur:
- Be prepared to make sacrifices. I can work over 70 hours a week some weeks, and that means that I don’t get to attend events on the weekend, or watch that new T.V show everyone is talking about. Ultimately, I know that paying this price as an entrepreneur is totally worth those sacrifices.
- You have to be open to change. Just because something worked one way in the past, doesn’t mean it will always work that way. For example, social media has vastly changed since we started our business and we’ve had to adapt and change our strategies to stay relevant. Had we not taken this effort, we wouldn’t have had such consistent growth the way we have.
- You have to learn to not stress so much. This one is more difficult for me personally since I’m a type-A person that strives for perfection within the business. Ultimately, this line of thinking can be a downfall within any business, however, as there will always be challenges and compromises when dealing with so many moving parts.
What skills and attributes make you as successful as you are?
I would describe myself as a hard-working woman. I’ve always been driven to succeed in life, and I’ve developed resilience to push through the obstacles thrown my way in order to reach that success.
It isn’t easy to be a woman, mother, and CEO of a multi-million dollar company, but I take so much pride in witnessing how far I’ve gotten in just 6 short years. Acknowledging your successes along the way is another attribute that keeps you inspired and motivated.
For more information please visit: https://pinklily.com/