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Michelle Kelly

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Michelle Kelly and her team often find themselves thinking, “WWLD,” as in “What Would Lilly Do?” As the CEO of Lilly Pulitzer, Kelly contemplates how the founder of the iconic resort-wear brand would react to various modern-day business decisions the company faces. “The brand was founded by a woman—a young female entrepreneur in the 1960s,” says Kelly. “She was going against the grain. There weren’t many female entrepreneurs at that time. She was an amazing woman. That is the essence of our brand.”

After graduating with an MBA from Harvard Business School, Kelly couldn’t have imagined she’d be working in fashion. Then, by chance in 2003, she met Scott Beaumont and James Bradbeer, who had brought the preppy brand back to life a decade prior. The duo recruited Kelly to come work at the “Pink Palace,” Lilly’s corporate headquarters in King of Prussia. She started in sales and, over the years, went on to work in nearly every department throughout the company. “The whole company is full of many terrific, strong, talented women,” she says, adding that a few amazing men also work there. “Yes, I’m at the helm, but it’s the helm of a ship that’s full of really strong, motivated women. It’s a gangbuster team that feels the passion and the purpose I do and that Lilly had back in the day.”

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