After more than 20 years in business, owner Joan Carney is closing Lilly’s Boutique Gallery on Main Street, but she is quick to add that retiring is not in her plans.
“Right now, I have a massive project still in its embryonic stage, something a few of us have dreamed of creating for Indianapolis,” Carney said with a smile. “You’ll be hearing a lot about it in the coming months.”
With this new venture on the horizon and many other activities scheduled, including her worldwide travel, trunk shows and fashion shows, Carney desired more time in her schedule to be with family, take more fashion travel trips and enjoy her hobbies, such as ballroom dancing, gardening and cooking.
“My lease was coming up and this had a deadline, so I felt like I should make the change now,” Carney said. “It’s time for me to reinvent myself, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. Zionsville has been wonderful and accepted me from the start.”
The idea to open her business started with a house fire in Milwaukee which she narrowly escaped. Her miracle survival inspired Carney to put her gifts to use. Her family also encouraged her from a young age and noticed her talent and creativity.
So, she took her gifts for fashion and eye for art and started a new journey in Indiana in 1992. With the name Joan already taken by the local meat shop, she decided on Lilly, a name endeared to her by her uncle who had recently passed away. The decision for the type of business came by combining her interests and talents.
“I had a passion for art and travel and an eye for color and fashion. I also wanted to meet people,” Carney said, wearing a colorful sweater from Serbia. “So, I put all of these ideas in a jar and shook them up, and it said, “This is what I think I will be, wearable art.’”
What started as a melting pot of ideas has grown into a successful business with more than 10,000 patrons on her mailing list. But, Carney mostly credits the success to the people she has met along the way, specifically her staff.
“It’s not me, it’s the team. I was able to choose people with different talents. We are ‘sisters,’” Carney said. “I was the fearless leader, and we kept evolving and learning from mistakes. You also have to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself.”
Carney is also grateful to the Zionsville community and encourages all to use their gifts and find their passion as she did.
“Everyone has a gift. They just need to find it and keep at it. I did, and I’ve met the coolest people from all over the world,” Carney said. “I’m so grateful and have been blessed to have a business in Zionsville.”
Lilly’s going out of business sale for the public will begin on March 27.