Venue Safari Q&A with Lover.ly Founder Kellee Khalil
If you’re a bride-to-be or “wedding enthusiast”, chances are you’re aware of Pinterest, the social networking website that’s sweeping the nation. But have you used Lover.ly? Users “bundle” instead of pin a selection of pre-curated items related to the Big Day and beyond on this invite-based site.
We had a chance to speak with founder and CEO Kellee Khalil in this exclusive Venue Safari Q&A. She talked about how she got started in the wedding world as well as her favorite parts about the site – and it’s benefits over that “other” industry darling, Pinterest.
How did you get involved in the wedding world?
I had the idea for starting this business when I was working with my sister – she had founded one of the only PR firms 100% focused on bridal. She was knee deep in the wedding world, and about a month after I joined her, she got engaged. Her wedding had a lot of media attention – her bridal shower was in Bridal Guide, there was a ten-page spread in Martha Stewart, and her bachelorette was in Destination Weddings and Honeymoons – you can imagine the planning and details that wen t into it. She had a team of the best vendors. But there was still a lot of communication going back and forth.
Did Lover.ly stem from this business?
“It got to the point where she would say what do you think about the pink and sorbet colored bouquet from that link you sent me last week?” and I’d say “I sent you 300 links!”
The whole idea came from solving this pain point – it’s really hard to search these things – to search, save, organize and share these images. The planning process is highly collaborative.
I moved to New York City in July of last year to open up the business’ East Coast branch andI became heavily involved in the New York tech scene. We started building / working on Lover.ly in September of last year.
Where was Pinterest at this time?
In October, after we started building, I got an invite to Pinterest. Remember that this was like a year and a half ago, before anyone knew about it.
I got on the phone with the founders and we talked about our businesses – I even asked if they wanted to white label their solution. They said we hadn’t yet built a white label or API, but were thinking about it.
You obviously went forward with building your site – why is it viable in light of Pinterest’s phenomenal success?
The two fundamental differences. Pinterest allows anyone to add anything from anywhere. And so there’s no curation – the curation is done by the users. Ours is the inverse- we have exclusive partnerships with 26 of the most well-known and recognized wedding bloggers and we have permission to index content from their websites.
We tag each image for color, style, season, location, theme – that’s on a high level. And then we tag for the image on a micro level as well – bow tie, dress, dress designer, photographer, planner.
That’s a lot of work!
We may not have 50 million images but we have 120,000 that are fully tagged, so if you find an idea you’ll know where to go to find it, who you can hire to create that vision, and how you can buy those products in that picture.
Where’s the site going?
We launched private beta in October. In January we took down the beta wall and in early February we introduced Facebook connect. Right now we’re four months old and 60% of images are tagged. Our proprietary tagging is part technology and part human.
While it’s a really long process to make sure images are well-tagged, that’s really our value proposition. Anything you see on Lover.ly is curated by the best bloggers in the space and you’ll know where the images came from.
So you’re not married. What do you say about other women who are using the service before their weddings?
I am 27 and married to my business! We actually have a large user base that is pre engaged. Women that say they’re wedding enthusiasts love the site. We also have the bridal party – a “future bride”. Studies say that if you are a bridesmaid there is an 80% chance you’ll be engaged or married within two years. Brides sign up, they invite their bridesmaids and bridesmaids start cobbling their own ideas.
That’s something that’s great about your site- you don’t have to share your bundles with anyone. You can be a wedding enthusiast in private.
We’re very cognizant of privacy. There’s got to be an element of surprise ! For all those pre-engaged women they can plan away without worry.
I think the power of what we’re doing is that it is so niche and it’s focused and we can really cater to the two million women that are getting married, their friends, family and the vendor industry. We have so much growing to do – in the next six weeks alone you’ll see two to three new features coming. We can expand into bridal showers, engagements, honeymoon, rehearsal dinners – we can do everything around weddings, not 100% a wedding itself. Eventually we can cover everything around love – even anniversary shoots.
Stay tuned! To sign up, visit www.lover.ly
Written by: McLean Robbins
Images via Lover.ly