Pink Lily Who Started as eBay Side Hustle Now Makes $141 Million in Sales

UTC by Gladis Monteiro · 4 min read
Pink Lily Who Started as eBay Side Hustle Now Makes $141 Million in Sales
Photo: Tori Gerbig / Facebook

Pink Lily is now a bourgeoning online entity and has become a brand.

Side hustles have become so common these days as they are a great source of extra income. But not all of them are successful as many of them require a sharp business acumen. The story of Tori Gerbig, CEO of Pink Lily, an online clothing business, gives an interesting insight into how you can transform your side hustle into a perfect business setup. What started as a hobby due to the dearth of affordable fashion soon turned into a full-fledged  Pink Lily business making $141 million in sales and having 3.6 million social media followers.

Tori’s Journey with Pink Lily

Tori got the idea to start Pink Lily in 2011 when she was just 24 years old. Her search for clothes that were both in fashion and affordable led her to this big idea. She, alongside her husband Chris, started a side hustle on eBay selling women’s clothes with an initial investment of just $300. In the beginning, the 35-year-old mom did not have to worry about shipping costs as she would conduct her business from the living room. Due to the absence of any pricing strategy, the profits varied but Tori made it a point to invest maximum profit back into the business. Soon, Tori found herself attending trade shows and meeting multiple vendors for placing product orders. Her advent on Facebook led to growing followers, sales and increased popularity in her local community in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The Turning Point

By the end of 2013 when the couple had saved $20,000, they decided to launch an official website for Pink Lily. With this decision, there was no going back, and it turned out to be a turning point as the business boomed immediately. When in May 2014, the sales crossed $100,000, Tori decided to quit her insurance job and concentrate on the business full time. With Chris quitting his job some months later and taking care of operations and finance, Pink Lily saw its revenue surpassing $4 million by the end of 2014. From here on, the business just kept growing. By 2019, Pink Lily was making $70 million in sales and even got a minority stake investment that helped it increase its product portfolio and staff.

Pink Lily is now a bourgeoning online entity and has become a brand, quickly mushrooming all over the Bowling Green locality, employing around 250 employees, selling over 11,000 products and owning a physical store.

Tori’s Tips for All Aspiring Entrepreneurs

In her journey through the birth and evolution of Pink Lily, Tori has gained wisdom regarding conducting a successful business operation. Here are some of the tips that she would want to share with all those aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to see their business see the light of the day.

Discover a gap in the market

One needs to tap into the unmet needs of a customer when working on a business idea. For Tori, the unmet need was fashion-savvy women finding it difficult to buy a dress for less than $50.

Reinvest initial profits

The beginnings are always the toughest and without some sacrificing growth is not possible. Tori, for example, reinvested all the money back into the business and worked for more than 60 hours a week.

Engaging interaction with social media followers

Social media can make or break a business. Considering the opinions and views of your followers is a must and will help increase sales. It gives the customers a sense of belonging and loyalty to the brand. Create engaging social media campaigns that not only highlight your brand’s distinct identity but also actively involve the shoppers.

Devise novel strategies to encourage customer loyalty through brand ambassador programs

Brand ambassador programs are important as they help create an exclusive group of customers who can sustain the brand’s image and name in the market. Brand ambassadors vouching for your business will go a long way in ensuring continued success.

Create a niche

What will you have that no one else can offer? Having a niche or a curated collection of rare items that people won’t find with any other retailer is important to create a brand entity. This will help customers relate your brand with that product or service thereby giving you an exclusive status.

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