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Who Started Serena and Lily?

From Accounting to a Home Decor Empire: Lily Kanter Shares Her Secrets to Success

Lily Kanter's life changed in 2002 when her future business partner, Serena Dugan, walked into the baby and kids store Lily owned in Northern California. In 2004, the pair founded the now-blockbuster retail business Serena and Lily.

Lily started her career in technology and business, working at huge companies like Microsoft and Deloitte & Touche. After winning the prestigious Chairman's Award from Bill Gates in July 1999, she took a break to focus on family and philanthropy. Lily's face landed on the cover of Time magazine with the July 2000 story "The New Philanthropists." After having her first child in June 2001, Lily opened a baby-oriented home furnishings business, Mill Valley Baby and Kids, the following year. Two years later, she would meet Serena, and Serena and Lily was born. Lily shared her advice and passions in our Power Your Happy Q&A. See what she can't leave home without, how she starts her day, and more!

Power Your Happy Q&A

What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
Don't get married too early, you don't know what you really are all about at 22 years old.
What talent or passion have you been able to use in your career in an unexpected way?
Being a naturally social person and getting along well with people has had benefits like being a good leader of people and being a connector. But I think being scrappy and super resourceful has been my most valuable talent for my career.
What is the one thing that influenced your career today? When was the moment when you realized you were on the right path?
I had a very serious natural ability to do accounting in high school and I followed a path to becoming a CPA. I continued to follow my gut and one door led to another door to another door. I have no regrets on having a deep accounting background.
What does "finding your happy" mean to you? Do you feel you've found it?
Finding my happy is definitely tapping into my soul pleasures. Love of my family and close friends, exploring the infinite planet, helping others, and staying creative in business, which is manifested by being an entrepreneur. I feel most alive and happy when I stay focused on those pleasures. Yes, I have definitely found it. The challenge is making sure I prioritize my time to stay focused on my happy place.
Speed Round: What powers your happy?
Travel with my family.
Guilty pleasure?
Favorite curse word?
Too Muckin Fuch.
Happy place?
Tennis court.
Heels or flats?
The one thing you can't leave home without?
Can anyone leave without their phone? How about the second thing? I always have a layer to throw on — I hate to be cold.
Favorite junk food?
French fries.
Favorite healthy food?
Favorite workout?
Favorite splurge?
Feel-good music?
Jason Mraz's "We Sing, We Dance."
Favorite thing about your appearance?
Favorite possession
Are children a possession? if we are talking material possession, I would have to say my home. It's the perfect place to build community.
First thing you do when you wake up?
Drink coffee.
Last thing you do before going to bed?
Kiss my husband.
Connect with Lily on LinkedIn.
Image Source: Lily Kanter
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