The Colorful Story Behind The Pink Retreat

A love for the rich, vivid colors of Lilly Pulitzer clothing inspired one fan to create an in-person event for her fellow enthusiasts. They now meet annually in Palm Beach, Florida.

Author: Casey Gale       

The Pink Retreat

Date: June 9–12, 2022
Location: Palm Beach, Florida
Attendees: ~500

Illustration by Carmen Segovia

Once you’ve seen a Lilly Pulitzer garment, it becomes instantly recognizable. Born in Florida’s Palm Beaches, the brand’s trademark vibrant, floral-printed clothing and accessories are synonymous with beachy resort wear. Tosha Williams, an art therapist turned stay-at-home mom, is a Lilly enthusiast who is part of an active online community where fans can buy, sell, and trade the brand’s clothing. Williams found it odd that such a devoted fan group didn’t have its own in-person event. “Everyone else had a convention,” she told Convene. “Why didn’t we?”

After finding that others in the group felt the same way, Williams, who said she had no experience in event planning “other than my wedding,” launched The Pink Retreat, a celebration of Lilly Pulitzer that she advertises as “the most colorful girls’ getaway” in Palm Beach, Florida. The Pink Retreat is meant for women who “enjoy living out loud and expressing themselves with color,” Williams said, attracting attendees of different ages, ethnicities, and races.

During the event, attendees can go to the event’s shopping parties that are hosted in Lilly Pulitzer stores around the Palm Beaches with accompanying discounts, drinks, and light bites, as well as take afternoon tea at the destination’s famed Flagler Museum.

Retail Therapy

In 2018, just before Williams was about to launch her first Pink Retreat, she got in touch with someone at Lilly Pulitzer’s corporate offices. To her surprise, her contact had heard about the upcoming event through one of the stores Williams planned to visit for a shopping party.

The company provided guests with swag bags and Michelle Kelly, its president and CEO, kicked off the inaugural event with a toast at a welcome happy hour. The event’s relationship with the brand has only grown — in 2022, Lilly Pulitzer and the destination’s CVB, Discover the Palm Beaches, sponsored a cocktail party at the National Croquet Center.

Only in Palm Beach

The event takes place only in Palm Beach because of Lilly Pulitzer’s connection to the area. Here’s a little history lesson about the brand: Pulitzer was a Palm Beach socialite whose husband owned citrus groves across Florida. Needing a project of her own, she opened a successful juice stand in Palm Beach, but found the citrus juices stained her clothes. After asking her dressmaker to create clothing that would camouflage the stains, the brand launched in 1959. “In paying homage to Lilly, we meet annually in Palm Beach,” Williams said.

While Williams is pleased with the event’s continuing success, she is most proud of the connections she’s helped make among attendees. “As an art therapist, I have created the ultimate group therapy project,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for women to come together, to smile, laugh, and refill their cups.”

Casey Gale is managing editor at Convene.

Visit the Archive

Related Posts

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.