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Grit, The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success: “Celebrate the little wins” With Chris Gerbig and Phil Laboon

Celebrate the little wins. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the small wins. Always reach for your next goal but remember to reflect on the great things you’ve achieved thus far. As a part of my series about “How the most influential people built empires from nothing”, I had the pleasure of […]



Celebrate the little wins. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the small wins. Always reach for your next goal but remember to reflect on the great things you’ve achieved thus far.


As a part of my series about “How the most influential people built empires from nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Gerbig, Co-Founder, President and COO of Pink Lily (www.pinklily.com), one of the fastest growing online retailers in the nation.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path

Thank you for having me! Four years ago, my wife and I co-founded online fashion retailer Pink Lily (www.pinklily.com). While we always knew we would like to operate our own business one day, we were in a way accidental entrepreneurs as we never expected Pink Lily to grow as quickly as it has. The business began as a side hustle, quickly grew into a full-fledged website in 2014 and six months later we both quite our “real jobs” to focus full-time on Pink Lily’s growth. We’ve now passed more than $50 million in sales, without any outside funding. My background is in finance and operations, which are the areas of our business, which I oversee.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I can still remember well back in January 2014 when Tori and I were working hard to get Pink Lily off the ground while we both had full-time jobs during the day. Mine came with a two-hour commute each day. We also had an eight month old baby at home, and I was in graduate school getting my MBA. We were extremely busy when we decided to launch the Pink Lily website. Despite the fact that we had zero free time, we knew this business had potential and we made it work in the late hours of the night.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Entrepreneurship is certainly not for the faint of heart but we always knew the benefits of owning our own business and the joy we got from running it far outweighed the hardships.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

There are many times when we could have given up our dream of growing a multi-million dollar brand. We both worked in comfortable and stable jobs prior to founding Pink Lily. Yet if you never take a risk to go after what you believe in, where do you end up? Remembering our vision of building a family business that will last for decades ahead and keeping that in-sight has always kept us going even when times are tough.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

Pink Lily is now four years old and we have surpassed a milestone of more than $50 million in sales! We just had our most successful Black Friday ever and we are already planning ahead for an even busier 2019.

Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)

Success takes hard work. There’s no short cut or easy way around this. Great success takes a whole lot of hard work and dedication. Especially in the beginning.

Remember your long-term goal. Keeping our eye on the long-term vision we have for Pink Lily has helped us reach ahead to greater heights while motivating us when small obstacles arise.

Celebrate the little wins. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for the small wins. Always reach for your next goal but remember to reflect on the great things you’ve achieved thus far.

Know you’re going to make mistakes. How you recover from those mistakes is so much more important than the mistake itself. This is an inevitable part of running a business. Don’t waste time beating yourself up. Learn and move on. One lesson we had to learn the hard way was not setting up a strong inventory system before we had millions of dollars in merchandise.

Don’t listen to the naysayers. The path to entrepreneurial success is so frequently paved with naysayers and disbelievers. Be realistic about what you are achieving but fully confident in your knowledge of your own business. There were plenty of acquaintances that didn’t believe in our vision for Pink Lily. Thank goodness we didn’t pay attention!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?

I’m so grateful to have gone on this journey of building Pink Lily with my wife and co-founder Tori. When times are tough we always motivate each other.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are now one of the largest employers in Bowling Green, KY where Pink Lily is based. I enjoy mentoring new team members and creating a positive workplace for our employees. We also believe it’s important to give back to our community and we regularly donate to local charities.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re busy planning for 2019 and the next chapter of Pink Lily’s growth. We’re at an exciting point as the business continues to charge ahead, reaching new consumers. We aim to bring our customers great styles at accessible prices.

What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Bring a positive attitude, celebrate your employees’ success, make everyone feel a part of the team and recognize each individual’s value.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

What if we were to all spend just one hour a week mentoring someone? The effects of this at a grand scale would be impressive.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” — Steve Jobs

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can catch up with us on Instagram @thepinklilyboutique or on Facebook as The Pink Lily Boutique.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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