I am a Lilly girl. Well actually now I guess you would call me a Lilly Pulitzer woman. So it delighted me so to learn that the Board of County Commissioners in Palm Beach proclaimed Sunday, November 10th, Lilly Pulitzer Day.
Okay girls. Get out your Lillys to celebrate and have a cocktail in her honor. I sure will.
Photo: Jill Brooke and Arts Editor Allison Bamford in Lillys
The late fun-loving designer, who I once interviewed during my years at CNN, was born on November 10th and would have been 88 years old. She died in 2013 at 81. As the Palm Beach Post reported, Pulitzer’s granddaughter, Lilly Leas Ferreira, accepted the proclamation, calling it “an incredible honor.”
Her legacy is producing clothing that celebrates exuberant flowers and colors. How can we not love her? As Pulitzer once said, “happiness never goes out of style.”
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, a Lilly fan, pushed for the proclamation. Lilly Pulitzer Day will honor her legacy, as well as her brand’s charitable achievements and impact on tourism in Palm Beach.
“I realized that she wasn’t being recognized for her contributions to our county,” said McKinlay “In her day, there weren’t many female entrepreneurs who achieved what she has and she deserves to be recognized, even if it’s in postmortem.”
Yes, there are so many lessons I learned from her and you can too.
Born in Westbury, N.Y., she was only 19-years-old when she eloped with Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Florida. A mother of three young children, she started a juice stand and needed some clothes to mask the juice stains. She created cotton shifts with bold colorful tropical prints exploding with psychedelic flora.
Her cheerful designs quickly became favorites among the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Wendy Vanderbilt, style-setters for their era.
Not only were the dresses fun, but even better you didn’t have to wear a bra during the hot summer sweaty months.
Soon the demand for dresses exceeded those for her juices and a business was born.
When I interviewed her, she shared a story of how her first shipment came in with a problem. The cotton quality wasn’t up to her standards. “People said, just sell them,” she told me. But she held strong, listening to her inner voice, and realized quality matters. At a great economic loss for a new business, she ordered a new shipment with the cotton she wanted and ditched the other flawed garments.
That business lesson helped me with Flower Power Daily when a web designer couldn’t give me what I needed. I took the financial loss and found another vendor.
The second lesson we can all learn from Lilly Pulitzer is to never settle. If something in your heart says it’s not quality or up to your standards, don’t second guess it. It’s also a message I wrote in my book, “The Need To Say No.”
Nor was she ever trained as a designer. She had an idea and surrounded herself with experts and trusted her instincts. Many successful businesses were formed with this model. You don’t always have to be an expert. Recognize your own strengths and find people who are experts in the areas you have a weakness.
I also could relate to her because her first marriage didn’t work out but she found love again. In 1969, she married Enrique Rousseau who she remained devoted to until her death.
Last but not least, she was always philanthropic, donating to charities including breast cancer research.
All these years later, her clothing line continues to be iconic for resort towns such as Palm Beach, Newport, Nantucket and the Hamptons. She also influenced many contemporary designers including Tory Burch and Cynthia Rowley.
There are over 75 signature Lilly Pulitzer stores around the U.S. and the clothes are also sold in department stores.
“Lilly Pulitzer Day will be embraced through our local stores and celebrated throughout the company,” added Eleni McCready, the senior director of Brand Media, Promotions & Community Development at Lilly Pulitzer.
The stores will also offer special gifts with purchase to celebrate the founder’s birthday, release new prints and host its firs
In honor of their founder’s birthday, all stores will have promotional items celebrating Lilly Pulitizer’s positive spirit and legacy – Jill Brooke
Photo Credits: FPD, Wikipedia
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.
“Lilly Pulitzer Day will be embraced through our local stores and celebrated throughout the company,” said Eleni McCready, the senior director of Brand Media, Promotions & Community Development at Lilly Pulitzer.
On Nov. 10, Lilly stores will offer special gifts with purchase to celebrate the founder’s birthday, release new prints and host its first promotion of the holiday season.