Kellee Khalil has always known she’s wanted to be an entrepreneur. But it wasn’t until she helped her sister plan her wedding that she found the perfect idea to devote her career to: an online platform that makes planning the big day simpler, more organized, more beautiful, and much, much more fun.
That was back in 2011, and that idea is now Lover.ly, a quickly growing visual search and e-commerce engine (and app!) for weddings that represents the largest community of brides online. (Planning a wedding of your own? Browse everything from flowers to favors by color, theme, or real weddings, save what you love, then see where to buy it.)
At the peak of wedding season, we caught up with the woman behind it all to hear more about her career, her love of all things wedding-related, and what she’s looking for as she builds her company’s quickly growing team.
What were you doing before you founded Lover.ly? What made you decide to switch gears and found the company?
As the daughter of serial entrepreneurs, I knew from the start that I wanted to be a business owner. After graduating from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, I had a successful stint in the financial industry. Craving some creativity, I joined my sister, Leila Khalil Lewis, to help expand her business, Be Inspired PR.
While working at Be Inspired and helping my sister plan her wedding and the several events leading up to it, I realized how disjointed the wedding planning industry was. It was at that point I became determined to create a truly innovative company that would solve the various inefficiencies hindering brides and grooms in their ability to plan weddings.
What’s your favorite part about working in the wedding world—and what’s the most challenging?
I love being involved in the creation of a couple’s most genuine expression of their love—their wedding! It’s about family and celebration and love and flowers and beginning to see all the unique and beautiful ideas that our bloggers come up with.
The most challenging thing is that we are creating something completely new. There is no roadmap for the way things should be. We need to be super adaptive and agile, while listening to users and partners. It is important that we want to stay focused on making sure we are delivering delightful and unexpected content.
As you’re hiring people to join your team, what qualities do you look for in your employees? Any interview questions you always ask?
Innovation, creativity, and drive are the key qualities that I look for. Each member of our team is highly skilled in some way, so it is important for me to find future employees who are well-rounded, but who can also tackle a specific task in the most efficient way.
One interview question that I always ask is, “Why Lover.ly?” It is so important to find employees who are not only passionate about their work, but who also love what we do as a company.
Lover.ly has grown by leaps and bounds! If you had to boil your success down to two or three nuggets of wisdom other entrepreneurs could take away, what would they be?
Do your research to be sure the opportunity definitely exists. Dig deep into all facets of the industry to find just the right way to structure your company based on the voids that need to be filled.
And be confident, don’t doubt yourself, and go for it. If you are sure there is an opportunity, you need to believe wholeheartedly in it—your team won’t be driven to succeed unless you are.