Kellee Khalil was 30 pages deep into Google, flipping between 15 tabs of fashion retail sites, when she realized there ought to be an easier way to help plan her sister’s wedding. She was working at her sister’s wedding PR firm, so she knew the industry, but found it difficult to complete the loop from pinpointing, say, a bouquet that her sister liked in a photo, to tracking it down and figuring out how to actually buy it. “If this is hard for me, how do women outside of the wedding world do it?” she thought.
So, in late 2010, Kellee moved to New York City, started networking in the tech community and invested $75,000 from personal savings to hire a team of developers — then turned her idea into reality. She raised $2 million in seed funding and on February 14, 2012, launched Lover.ly, a place to find wedding ideas — and actually buy the products and book vendors. Think of a search engine with the visual elements of Pinterest, where all the suggestions come from top wedding bloggers and are well-organized and tagged so they can be bought immediately. A search for bridesmaid dresses, for example, can be filtered by color, price, style and numerous other elements.
Now, the company has grown from two to 16 employees, sells 250,000 products from 2,000 brands and has 2.6 million visitors a month across their bridal blog network, responsible for a total of 40 million image views. We talked to Kellee about building her business and how, as someone who sells inspiration, she finds inspiration in her own life.