The inspiration behind Kellee Khalil’s online service came from her own experience helping plan her sister’s wedding. “There was no central place online to search for inspiring ideas, retailers or vendors” said Ms. Khalil. “Google is not focused. There’s an overwhelming amount of content for brides. That gave me the idea to build a vertical search engine for wedding planning.” Thus, Lover.ly was born
Wedding planning is a huge business grossing an estimated $99 billion dollars a year. Yet, there’s never been a one-stop shop for couples planning a wedding. Professional wedding organizers are very expensive and do-it-yourself options are daunting for most people.
Lover.ly, launched in January 2011, aggregates content from 35 wedding blogs and magazines, as well as its content partners. Brides can search a ring, dress or shoes and either order or add these items to their online scrap book. The site prominently features a color bar in its header as any bride that’s ever planned a wedding can confirm, wedding planning can’t begin without a color.
The site shows more than 80,000 products from 700 brands. When a bride clicks on a Vera Wang dress or an engagement ring, each click-per-image generates between 30 cents to $1.80 for Lover.ly. The site also generates revenue by helping wedding bloggers secure advertising from retails such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
“We sell ads on behalf of bloggers and split the revenue 50/50,” said Ms. Khalil.
The site is slated to generate $1.5 million in 2013
Ms. Khalil gets her entrepreneurial spirit from her father, a Lebanese immigrant who came to the United States with $26 dollars to his name, speaking no English. He worked his way up from gas station janitor to owner of a company that sold gas stations in-store promotions from major brands.
“My father’s achievements were the quintessential American dream,” said Ms. Khalil. “I will feel like a failure if I’m not able to do something bigger than what he did.”
Named one of the 12 people to watch in 2012 by the New York Daily News, Khalil hopes to inspire other women to take charge in the tech scene.
“There’s a little bit of a stigma being a female and building a product that is for women,” she said. “We joke that it’s called the pink ghetto – ‘women only make things that are pink and cute for girls!’ No. We’re building serious technology.”
“I mean business,” she adds. “I don’t want to be recognized just because I’m a woman; I want them to recognize me because I’m building a real business.”