Lilly earned her BA in Communication Studies from Hollins University in 2012. Her focus at school was ideological and cultural criticism, culminating in an honors thesis analyzing conflict representation in a national museum. After graduating, she moved to Toyama, Japan, where she spent three years teaching English at a rural high school. Along with facing the everyday challenges of foreign language instruction, she wrote various articles for regional and online publications. In 2015, she moved to Fukuoka to join the Quality Control team at Edanz.