Each time I have a conversation with my friend Kellee Khalil, the Founder and CEO of Loverly, I walk away a more well-rounded individual. Whether it’s watching her light up as she talks about her nieces and nephews or hearing the fire in her voice when she discusses Loverly’s work executing WWD – Wedding World Domination – she always motivates me to make my dreams a reality and to never take no for an answer.
Despite teaching me what it really means to hustle – She built Loverly from the ground up – Kellee’s had the most profound impact on me when it comes to work life balance and not being defined by my Type-A tendencies.
In the last seven months alone Loverly’s released an exclusive line of wedding dresses (for brides and bridesmaids), partnered with event planning startup Splash to enable couples to create websites for the big day, and most recently, released their first book, The Loverly Wedding Planner: The Modern Couple’s Guide to Simplified Wedding Planning.
The book is especially meaningful for Kellee because the team brought it to life in 120 days (I told you she’s a hustler!).
“This is one of the things I can say I’m most proud of; That our team was able to come together and create something that is so beautiful and so thorough,” she shared.
The Wedding Planner includes interactive worksheets, checklists, and budgeting tips. It even boasts a wedding glossary and drawings of different dress silhouettes. With Loverly, couples can rest-assured that their big day is covered.
On the outside, it appears that Loverly is an overnight success.
More than ten dresses from their first collection are sold out, the book is a #1 New Release on Amazon, and the team just moved into a new office to accommodate their growth.
Kellee’s the first to admit that life as a CEO becomes more challenging as you bring on more partners and pursue new projects. It’s certainly not stopping her – She’s the most hard working person I know – but the shift has forced her to reevaluate how she takes care of herself.
This is how she describes her evolution as a CEO from 2011 to now:
“I’ve evolved so much as a person and as a leader. When you first start a business, your identity is wrapped up in that company. It’s all you do for so long. When things didn’t go well, I would take it so personally. I really felt the rollercoaster.
Over the last three years, there have been so many highs and lows, and I’ve gotten to a point where I realized that I, Kellee Khalil, am not Loverly. The business on its own is an entity. Me, as a person, it’s important that I’m happy and that my happiness is not tied to the success of the business.”
In addition to consciously nurturing her personal well-being, which has become an important topic of discussion in the startup community, actively believing that Loverly isn’t her lifeblood has made Kellee a stronger CEO.
In order to be the best leader, visionary and CEO I need to be able to stay focused. Detaching myself, that freedom, allows me to do my job better.
Three years in, Kellee’s more productive than ever. The only difference is that she focuses on her strengths instead of trying to do everything on her own.
It takes introspection to figure what do you really want to do.
Today, she’s active on the creative side brainstorming new content ideas, identifying media opportunities and building the company’s brand.
The most telling part of Kellee’s evolution as a CEO is the newfound ability to step back and appreciate what Loverly’s accomplished.
Your work is not you. Your work is something you create. It’s not who you are.
Detaching from your work, especially when you love it, is easier said than done. To ensure she stays on track, especially when it’s easy to revert to old habits, Kellee steps away from the task at hand and spends time with loved ones.
Whether it’s attending a boot camp, grabbing brunch with friends, or face timing her sister, her north star is to surround herself with people who genuinely love and support her.
On the weekends, she goes to the Hamptons with friends or spends a weekend at home in Los Angeles in with her family.
To learn more about Kellee’s transformation as a CEO and how it’s impacting Loverly’s success, tune into her episode of 33founders and follow on her Twitter here.
Here’s a glimpse of what we discuss:
- How The Loverly Wedding Planner takes the stress out of planning your big day
- The Path to WWD: Wedding World Domination
- Why it’s crucial for founders to detach from their businesses
- Tips to empower your inner CEO
- How Kellee achieves work-life balance
You can gain a deeper look into Kellee’s every day life in Ford and Rent the Runway’s exclusive Making it Happen feature.