Editor’s note: The August issue of The Lane Report features our semi-annual list of the Top Women in Business. At lanereport.com, we’re shining the spotlight on one of the honorees each day. Day 3: Tori Gerbig, cofounder and CEO of online fashion retailer Pink Lily.
Our occasional feature, Top Women in Business, highlights some of the women in and around Kentucky who are making an impact in business, the professions, politics and economic development. The feature recognizes women in key roles whose work ethic and body of work are making important contributions to commerce—and life—in Kentucky.
Top Women in Business has grown to become one of The Lane Report’s most popular features. Over the years, we’ve profiled more than 100 women who shatter stereotypes, encourage other businesswomen and help their Kentucky companies reach new heights. The women featured in this issue are no exception. From airport CEO to hospital executive, and successful online retailer to construction company VP, these women are forging their own paths, proving that hard work, perseverance and creativity pays off.
In 2013, Bowling Green resident Tori Gerbig started selling clothing and accessories on online retailers like Etsy and eBay. Her “maternity leave side hustle” became the Pink Lily online store, and within six months, she and her husband, Chris, quit their day jobs to focus full-time on the company. Pink Lily became one of the fastest growing online fashion retailers in the U.S., thanks to Gerbig’s marketing skills and social media savvy. Today, it employs 270 people in Bowling Green and operates out of a 50,000-s.f. warehouse. Pink Lily has 1.3 million Instagram followers and 1.8 million Facebook followers, and is on track to surpass $100 million in sales in 2021.
Title/company: Co-founder and CEO of Pink Lily, a fashion destination committed to representing and serving women of every shape, size and color. I remain heavily involved in our day-today operations, specifically overseeing product development, brand partnerships, our influencer program, social media and anything and everything to do with marketing.
How long at company/position: Pink Lily began as a maternity leave side-hustle in 2013 and became an official brand and business in 2014 when my co-founder and husband, Chris, and I launched Pink Lily’s first website. Since then, I have been CEO and it has been my main focus to grow the company. Previous jobs/positions: Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked in insurance sales.
Education/training: I attended Western Kentucky University and majored in marketing and sales. That said, prior to co-founding Pink Lily I did not have any formal experience in retail or fashion. I have always loved fashion, though, and creating a sense of community, be that in person or connecting with others through social media. Pink Lily has brought to life this part of my personality and created a great space for me to leverage my background in sales and marketing in a new way.
Top accomplishment: I’m so proud of the business we have created, being a family-operated business and one of the largest employers in our hometown of Bowling Green. We couldn’t do this without an amazing team and customers, for which I am incredibly grateful. Pink Lily has been so much hard work and has taken a lot of sacrifices, but it has all been worth it. I’m a firm believer in going after your dreams and turning this one into a reality is my biggest professional accomplishment.
The person who most influenced or mentored me: My husband, Chris, has been there every step of the way and as co-founder has had a huge role in Pink Lily’s success, specifically in overseeing operations and finances. Our business wouldn’t be where it is without him!
My biggest challenge and how I overcame it: The kind of rapid growth we have seen at Pink Lily can be challenging. It comes with increased responsibilities, stress, inventory management issues, employee relations and the continual need to stay on top of the latest fashion trends. But the highlights of being self-employed and seeing a business we believe in grow and thrive makes it all worthwhile.
My advice to younger women in business: Never let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams. There have been a lot of naysayers along the path to Pink Lily’s success. Have confidence in yourself and always set goals. When you reach one, make another.
Something I love doing: I love spending time with Chris and our three children. Going out on the lake, hanging out and getting in much-needed downtime.
I’m inspired/driven by: I have always been inspired to create a community for women, a place that makes women feel valued and beautiful. I really enjoy connecting with people, especially sharing the ups and downs of life and work with my core community and also my social media community. I’m also a very goal-oriented person. When you reach one goal, it’s time to set the next big one.
The most important personal attribute I bring to my job: Positivity.
In the next five to 10 years in my job, I hope to accomplish: I hope to continue to grow Pink Lily, see our community thrive, employ more team members and make our business a household name.
Lorie Hailey is special publications editor for The Lane Report. Reach her at [email protected].