An empowering new spin on sibling rivalry.
For Kellee Khalil, founder and CEO of Loverly, entrepreneurship runs in the family. When her father came to the US from Lebanon, he taught himself English and put himself through college, but when he graduated, he found that the only place that would hire a Lebanese man was a gas station, so he took the job, worked his way up to manager and eventually came to own several gas stations, before starting a marketing firm for convenience stores. He always told his children, “Find something you’re passionate about, work hard at it and you’ll find a way to make money.” They took it to heart, and found creative ways to support each other along the way. Kellee founded Loverly, a charming one-stop digital shop for wedding inspiration and planning in 2010, but not before working at her sister Leila’s bridal PR firm, Be Inspired. Her other sister, Monika, is a hair stylist and makeup artist who handles the beauty needs at many of Loverly’s photoshoots. Kellee’s older brother, Jacque, is an advisor for Loverly and the producer of their younger brother Jirard’s YouTube channel, The Completionist. Jirard does videography for Loverly and Be Inspired.
We asked Kellee to tell us more about how this modern, interwoven family business works. It turns out there are five tips the Khalil crew attributes to their success.
Draw a line between personal and professional
It’s hard to separate family time from business time. My father is an investor in Loverly. When I was first starting out, I went through the many emotional ups and downs that all entrepreneurs face. Sometimes, I just needed him to be there for me as my dad, not as someone who has a financial stake in my company. My sister, Leila, does PR for Loverly, and there are moments when Leila and I need to ask ourselves and each other, “Are you being my sister right now or my colleague?” The best way to handle those situations is to explicitly say, “Right now, I need you to be my family, not my colleague.”
Set aside non-work time together
Every week on Sunday, we have a four-hour sit-down lunch. Even if one of us has to video-call in from wherever we are, we make it happen. It’s essential to have this weekly time to reconnect as a family. It reinforces our bond on a personal level, which is so important when, during the week, our communication is primarily professional.
Delegate divisive conversations
I’m Leila’s client—her PR firm handles my press. When it comes to negotiating that contract, or other conversations about money, I hand it over to someone on my staff. I keep myself out of that part of our professional relationship to protect our personal relationship.
Be considerate of your dynamic
When one sibling advises another on what to do from a business standpoint, it can come across like she’s trying to be in charge of the other sibling. It might even feel like when you played as kids. Approach any conversation (especially one in which one sibling is giving the other advice) from a warm and collaborative place so that it feels like you’re working together and that there’s synergy. Have your personal dynamic in mind, even in professional situations.
Put family first
When you can work with the people you’ve known your whole life, disagreements are more emotionally charged than they would be with other professional colleagues. Always let the tension or initial frustration cool off before handling an argument. At the end of the day, your relationship as family is most important, and, if you keep that in mind, any disagreement can be resolved easily and tactfully.