How Pink Lily Turned $300 into a Popular Brand Making $141 Million Per Year in Sales
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Wait, what? You haven’t heard of Pink Lily? Where have you been?
It’s been one of the fastest-growing online fashion boutiques for several years and has been an Inc. 5000 business since 2018.
Even if you know about Pink Lily, you may not know that the business started as an eBay side hustle.
So we wanted to find out more about this inspiring story!
The Rise of Pink Lily
In 2011, Tori Gerbig and her husband, Chris, began selling a random collection of items on eBay. The initial goal was to make money to pay off student loans.
After two years of limited success, Tori’s time on maternity leave in 2013 ended up being a game changer.
She spent $300 on some women’s accessories from a wholesale website. Her purchases focused on trendy and affordable items.
That got things moving! Suddenly they were generating a few hundred dollars a month in profit from eBay and Etsy. Then they reinvested those funds into the business to buy more inventory.
After a few months, Tori added a private Facebook group intending to sell to women in her hometown. This group quickly grew from a few hundred to over 10,000 members from all over the United States!
The Gerbig’s life was crazy.
They were trying to fulfill orders and run a business at night. This was after they put their son to bed since they both still had full-time jobs.
But they realized they were on to something and launched pinklily.com on December 30, 2013. Initial goal - $50,000 in annual revenues.
By the way, the student loan balance was already zero!
Fast forward seven months. They both quit their day jobs to focus on Pink Lily full-time and surpassed $1,000,000 in sales.
They’ve been growing by leaps and bounds ever since. In 2021, Pink Lily generated $141 million in sales from more than 11,000 products.
They also have 3.6 million social media followers and 250 full-time employees. And don’t forget about the brick-and-mortar store in Bowling Green.
How Pink Lily Gets Its Traffic
According to SimilarWeb.com, Pink Lily generated 1.1 million visitors in June of 2022.
If we look at Ahrefs, they get around 500,000 in monthly organic traffic.
And the majority of Pink Lily’s traffic is Direct and Organic Search. With Direct traffic equalling slightly more, at least in SimilarWeb's estimation.
The smaller pieces of Social, Paid, and Referrals round things out.
The majority of social traffic comes from Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
Youtube and others make up the rest.
What Is Pink Lily Good At?
- Strong branding that is consistent across the website and social media channels.
- The user-friendly website navigation is set up to find what you are looking for.
- Active on primary social media channels.
- The website is professional looking with a good design. It’s focused on its target audience.
- The blog content is valuable - i.e., “What To Wear To A Summer Wedding.”
How Does Pink Lily Make Its Money?
Pink Lily’s primary revenue generator is selling its products in two ways. One is its Shopify e-commerce website. And the other is a lone physical location in Bowling Green, KY.
Pink Lily started a blog in August 2020. It currently only has about 70 articles. Most topics include style guides and what to wear for specific occasions. Others are general lifestyle topics directed at women.
There are 3-4 posts per month, so it doesn’t seem like a strategic focus. Most articles break out different clothing categories. And within the categories, they provide links to recommended products on their site.
See the screenshot below for an example.
There are no display ads on the blog posts or product pages. So that is not currently a monetization strategy.
Pink Lily also has an Ambassador Program, which is their affiliate arrangement. And this program has been successful in driving more sales.
What Topics Drive Organic Traffic
As you can see in this screenshot from Ahrefs, many of the sites most high volume keywords are brand keywords.
This is a rather unique situation but one that highlights how effective their marketing strategy in other channels like social media has been.
What Can We Learn From Pink Lily?
Pink Lily has achieved success with impressive growth in only a handful of years.
But is it repeatable?
And if so, how?
According to Tori Gerbig:
“It’s so important to find a gap in the existing market. When I started my side hustle, I saw an unmet need for fashion-inclined women who wanted to be able to find a dress for $50 or less.”
Pink Lily has also used social media almost from day one.
They focused on growing their followers through active engagement.
One way is by posting photos of potential new products or brands. They do this to their 1.4 million Instagram followers. Then ask for feedback to make them feel like insiders.
Another is by shipping products in custom bags. These bags have the company logo and #pinklilystyle on them.
They then encourage customers to post Instagram photos. That is, pictures with their new outfits and the hashtag. They feature many of these customers on their website.
Being active and creative are the critical components for their social media success.
The Pink Lily Ambassador Program has also been successful. It generated $7.5 million in sales in 2021.
The key to driving success is finding something that resonates with customers. You want to turn them into passionate and vocal supporters of your products.
Also, carving out a unique product line you can own as a company is essential.
For example, Pink Lily may buy a vendor’s inventory after identifying a unique product. They want to limit availability for other retailers. As a result, they end up with a “collection” that is exclusive to Pink Lily.
I hope you came across something helpful and actionable.
Now it’s your turn. So get out there and start building your brand!
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