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PR in the Retail Industry: What I Learned From Opening a Lilly Pulitzer Store

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

This summer, I took a leap of faith to do something different. I worked for Lilly Pulitzer, a women’s resort-wear store, founded in Palm Beach. With over 60 stores across the U.S, I was hired at a company I always wanted to work for in the consumer industry. Four teams of people across the East Coast put the store together. There was no shortage of teamwork for the grand opening in Charlottesville.

Until the official grand opening on August 6, we had to keep the opening and features of the new store under wraps including cake pops and chocolate from local businesses and musicians that would be arriving at the store. No news media was to find out about the grand opening until the day we opened. Almost a month after the opening, Lilly customers from all over Virginia are still seeing ads about the new store in Charlottesville. Lilly Pulitzer was able to utilize their owned and paid media platforms to encourage customers to visit and buy Lilly clothing.

Public Relations is very important for luxury brands like Lilly Pulitzer in maintaining a positive and posh reputation that upholds the brand’s identity. This includes being a good spokesperson for the brand and promoting it in social circles including social media and wearing the product outside of the store. Now that you know a little bit about my experience, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. It is possible to sell almost anything

Learning from someone who has been in the retail industry for decades, you learn the ability to sell something pretty quick. You definitely don’t want a potential sale to slip away.

2. Social media is important

Keeping a good social media presence is important even if you’re not a manager. My manager frequently posts on Instagram pictures of what she’s wearing in the store to increase engagement and motivate customers to see new product. Since working at Lilly, I’ve turned my social media to the public setting to get new followers of Lilly in hopes of bringing them into the store. I also bring it up through word of mouth in the groups I’m involved in at JMU including Bluestone Communications. Being a sales associate is more than just working at the store. It becomes part of your identity.

3. Being a team player

Working at Lilly is one of my first jobs in my professional experience where I’ve had the opportunity to work with a team of adults in person. Due to covid-19, most of my professional experience has been online leaving some confusion on how to interact on a team during “normal” times. Working on a team of varying ages has allowed me to learn what level of experience people have and how I can learn new aspects of the retail industry from my peers. Being a team player is my favorite aspect of the job as I am always willing to accomplish what needs to be done and help anyone. My job is so rewarding and I go into work everyday ready to serve any customer that walks in the door.

4. It's a lot of work

Retail, like public relations, is a hard business. A team has to be managed, employees have to be hired, and lessons on how to sell clothing have to be taught just to name a few. During a rush, it is pretty easy to get exhausted moving inventory and clothing around the floor. But what makes it worth it, is to see smiles on people’s faces knowing that I made a difference in their life. Above all, this is what has the most impact on me.

5. Bright colors are for bold people

Bold colors make Lilly Pulitzer unique and what it is today. When walking down the street, it is very obvious when one is wearing Lilly. It is distinct for a reason. Despite the founder’s passing, the brand tries to bring pink and sunshine in every item they sell.

Visit the Lilly Pulitzer to learn more about the clothes and the store behind them.

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