Meet the Staff at FPA: A Conversation With Lily Sevin, Administrative Assistant

Meet the Staff at FPA: A Conversation With Lily Sevin, Administrative Assistant
Digital Exclusive

Editor’s note: FlexPack VOICE® has featured workers of the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) in a series of short profiles since 2022. FPA hired Lily Sevin as an administrative assistant in 2023.

Sevin is a native of Annapolis, Maryland, where FPA is headquartered. She is an entrepreneur, having started her own business after college involving the creation of giant mushroom pillows.

“I grew up going to Navy football games and missed a day of school each May to watch the Blue Angels perform as part of the Naval Academy’s Commissioning Week,” Sevin says. “There’s a great sense of culture and community living in a military town, and Annapolis has a fantastic art scene, too.”

She points out that she went to the University of Vermont and was there during Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign leading up to the 2016 election.

“He was always just walking around, chilling downtown, no security,” she recalls. “Burlington is that kind of place—very relaxed. I studied history there and worked as a staff assistant in the history department. I still try to go back for a few days each October to catch the autumn leaves.”

FlexPack VOICE®: What was your career path and how did you end up at FPA?

Lily Sevin: COVID-19 happened pretty quickly after my graduation, and I ended up starting my own online business during the pandemic. It was an overwhelming success, thanks to social media, and it reached a tipping point, where I had to either bring in more people to help me or scale back. I was wearing every hat from supply sourcing to production to marketing to public relations to customer service to shipping—that is too many hats. And I was sick of even looking at my product by that point! When I started, I thought I would just be having a little fun and maybe earning some grocery money. My business ended up paying all my bills for two years—plus a little extra, and I bought a nice couch. I was ready to call that a win and move on, and maybe go back to an office where I could interact in person again. That is when I connected with FPA.

FPV: That is interesting. Tell us more about the business.

LS: I love to sew and crochet and thought it would be fun to make a giant fly amanita mushroom-shaped pillow for my living room. I Googled “giant mushroom pillow” looking for a pattern or reference image and was surprised to find no relevant results. So, I drafted my own pattern and created a final product that was about 3.5 feet tall. Just for fun, I posted a video of it to TikTok, and I woke up the next morning to 400,000 views and a ton of engagement. I made more videos, and the most successful reached 1.9 million views. That was a bit intense because I started popping up on the feeds of people I knew in real life, and they would message me stuff like “I just saw you doing mushrooms on TikTok!” and I would get embarrassed. But I was really grateful people were so interested in what I was making.

FPV: How did it develop from there?

LS: I started putting “batches” of made-to-order slots up on Etsy that would quickly sell out, and then I’d start working one-on-one with each of the customers in that batch to come up with a mushroom design that was personalized to them in some way—they had choices of color, shape, etc. That way, they had creative input, and I didn’t have to make the exact same thing again and again. Once everyone was taken care of, I would ship, then drop another batch. Interest was still high when I stopped taking orders, so I “revealed my secret recipe” and put the pattern up for sale as a PDF. In the terms and conditions, I grant the purchaser permission to sell their finished products so non-crocheters are still able to get their giant mushroom fix, just not from me. It’s really fun seeing my design at craft fairs. There are many copycat patterns out there at this point, as well as some factory-made products, but I don’t mind—trying to gatekeep a natural shape seems silly to me, not to mention shaky legally. Mostly, I’m just proud of how many results there are when you Google “giant mushroom pillow” now.

FPV: Talk a little bit about your duties with FPA. What do you like best and what are some of the challenges going forward?

LS: An administrative assistant is a pretty broad role. It starts with answering the phone and spirals out from there. In late summer and late winter, I am doing a lot of member support, making sure everyone is set up and ready to attend our conferences, the FlexForward® Conference and the Annual Meeting. It is rewarding to finally get on-site for the events and watch the hard work come together. Our attendees always have a great time, which is super gratifying to see.

FPV: What do you like to do when you are not working? Any hobbies, interests, or anything along those lines? Also, do you have a favorite sports team? If so, why?

LS: I am a big sci-fi/fantasy nerd, so I am more likely to be on the couch rooting for the Rohirrim while they drive Saruman’s orc army back from Helm’s Deep than I am to be at M&T Bank Stadium rooting for the Ravens. Unfortunately, I am completely serious. Don’t even get me started on Star Trek. And I do like the Ravens.

FPV: Anything that you would like to say about your family?

LS: It is just me, my dad, and my brother these days. Wonderful guys. They recently threw me a laser tag birthday party.

FPV: Anything that you would like to add that we did not think to ask? 

LS: I eat two to three apples per day, so if you hear crunching during a Teams call, I probably forgot to mute my mic.

Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®.