03 Jun The Explosive Online Growth of a Catholic Family Firm
REGINA Magazine advertiser Veils By Lily is a Catholic success story experiencing exponential growth. A 2010 start-up bootstrapped by founder Lily Beck Wilson in Missouri, USA, Veils by Lily has learned quickly as it has grown: what works and what doesn’t in the brave new world of Catholic social media and advertising.
In this candid REGINA Magazine interview, entrepreneur Lily Beck Wilson shares what she’s learned about how to market successfully online.
REGINA: You began advertising with REGINA in early 2014; how long have you been in business?
LILY: I started www.VeilsbyLily.com in August 2010, so almost 5 years. The vast majority of our orders, about 90%, are online.
REGINA: How are things going?
LILY: What is surprising is the overall growth we have experienced in such short time. In the month March 2011, we received 69 orders. A year later, we received 119 orders and in 2013, 175 orders. One year later in March 2014, we received 366 orders. By March 2015, we were up to 844 monthly orders: a 230% increase in a single year, and a 1,200% increase in four years.
REGINA: One of the most interesting uses of social media is that it allows people to see the reality behind a family company.
LILY: Yes, a few months ago, we created a behind-the-scenes video which people loved. It was great to share with them that we are real women–women who love God and who love helping other women grow in their faith.
REGINA: What's been the biggest surprise for you in using social media?
LILY: The extent of the reach of social media. Eight months ago, I visited my home country of Chile after being abroad for 13 years. My parents and I drove five hours from the capital, Santiago, to La Serena, the small town where my dad grew up.
“MY PARENTS AND I DROVE FIVE HOURS FROM THE CHILEAN CAPITAL, SANTIAGO, TO LA SERENA, the small town where my dad grew up. Divine Providence had us end up at a Solemn High Mass in the even smaller town of Algarrobito.”
“JUST RECENTLY, MY MIND WAS BLOWN when I saw that the pastor of that small rural parish–the same priest who had offered Holy Mass that day, Father Carlos Bolelli–had found our Facebook page!
“NOT ONLY DID FR BOLELLI FIND THE ‘VEILS BY LILY’ FACEBOOK PAGE, but he actually scrolled through eight months of posts…only to see his own parish pictured on this ‘random’ Facebook page from the United States. He shared these photos to his own timeline!”
“In social media, I post what I care about and what I know my customers care about. People appreciate that, and they appreciate seeing in their news feeds quality content.”
“I love my customers, and I want them to know that I respect their (virtual) space, so I don't want to fill their feeds with just anything.”
“ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS is to see photos of my customers wearing their veils. Not only do I get to share in the joy of their faith, but it is a joyful witness to the fact that the veil is not an outdated, repressive practice. We veil because we believe in something transcendent — the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist — and we celebrate the truly amazing fact that the God of the universe wishes to be intimately united to us when we receive Holy Communion.”
REGINA: What has not worked so well?
LILY: Last year I advertised on one of the more mainstream Catholic websites, and it fell flat. Women have to be ready to hear our message, and I don't think that particular audience was ready.
“WHEN WOMEN SEE OTHER WOMEN WEARING VEILS, they see that they are not alone in their love for their faith and in their desire to honor God outwardly. As St. John Chrysostom says, “A woman if she be unveiled straightaway puts on her veil, giving proof of internal reverence, and a man if he be covered bares his head. Seest thou how the outward behavior proclaims the inward reverence?” (Homily 53) For this very reason, it is edifying to see photos of women veiling, and based on the feedback, I know this has encouraged other women to start veiling, as well.”