Light illuminates. Light affects how colors and shapes are
perceived, and it can influence what sorts of activities are conducted depending on its abundance or
lack thereof. Light plays an important role in Libbi Hendley’s life as owner of Lililu, the clothing
store previously named Gladiola Girls.
Gladiola Girls, located on West King Street in downtown Boone, has been open for the past several years, but was only recently purchased by Hendley in December 2013. She inherited the name and loved it.
Problems arose, however, as Renee Wood, previous owner of the store, opened another Gladiola Girls in Lynchburg, Va.
“Our vendors were getting really confused,” Hendley said. “They were billing me for her stuff and billing her for my stuff.”
Hendley offered to let Wood keep the name, Gladiola Girls, for the store in Lynchburg and began thinking of a new name for her store in Boone. Along with having to come up with a new name, Hendley also had to deal with new lines being added to the store. Lines, Hendley said, that are a lot friendlier to college students’ limited budgets.
“We’re just increasing; we’re not really getting rid of anything,” Hendley said. “We’re just adding to what was already here.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of adding new lines and making the store her own, Hendley continued to struggle with the elusive new name.
“It was really hard to come up with a name,” Hendley laughed. “It’s ridiculous the names we came up with.”
Finally, it all came together.
“I started thinking about the two women who have had the most influence in my life,” Hendley said.
Hendley’s mother, Lillian, and mother-in-law, Lucille, served as inspiration for the new store name, Lililu. As they have encouraged and supported Hendley in her endeavors, Hendley said, she hopes the new name indicates the goal she has for the store: to be a light in young women’s lives.
“We want to not only shine light into women’s wardrobes, but we want to help encourage and bring light into their lives as women,” Hendley said.
For Hendley, the importance of light in Lililu is demonstrated by the numerous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, casting their light on the rows of clothing, jewelry and shoes.
“They’re kind of iconic in this store, kind of part of who we are,” Hendley said.
Hendley said the chandeliers are symbols of light, symbols of what she wants Lililu to be in the High Country.
On May 10, Lililu participated in a fashion show supporting the Children’s Council of Watauga County. Meggan Knight, on the council’s board of directors, said the fashion show was a Mother’s Day event to celebrate mothers and was put on by the Children’s Council as a fundraiser for the programs that aren’t state-funded. Lililu participated by donating clothing for models to wear for the show.
Amy Forrester, who helped put the fashion show together, asked Lililu to participate in the show. She wanted to showcase Lililu for support they had previously given to the Mountain Mamas calendar project.
“Because we’re featuring mothers especially, I feel she offers a really wide variety of, not only prices, but clothing styles, as well,” Forrester said. “Everything’s really in fashion and not necessarily just for teenagers, which is sometimes hard to find.”
Hendley described her business as a “give back kind of business.”
“The community is good to us, and we want to be a part in supporting the great things these organizations are doing in our community,” she said.
As demonstrated by Hendley’s recent contributions to the Children’s Council fashion show, though the name has changed, the same light that has been shining in the community will continue to emit from Lililu’s windows.
Though the Gladiola Girls sign will remain outside the store through the summer for her Florida customers, Hendley said she is using Lililu on everything else to ease customers into the new name — and face — of her store.