Third, don’t be afraid to change your approach. If something isn’t working, it’s time to look at it from a different perspective rather than become discouraged…
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lori Caden. the COO & Co-founder of Belly Bandit,® a company dedicated to helping women look and feel their absolute best before, during and after pregnancy. In 2008, Lori along with her two sisters, Jodi and Kari, introduced the Belly Bandit® Belly Wrap, a postpartum compression wrap that revolutionized the body after baby marketplace. Doctor-recommended and mom-endorsed, the Belly Wrap modernized the ancient practice of post-pregnancy belly support and quickly turned Belly Bandit® products into a new mom must-have. Since its launch, the company has seen tremendous growth. It has evolved from its signature product, the Belly Bandit® Belly Wrap and expanded to include solution-based maternity wear, intimates, activewear, and a complete line of compression shapewear, the Mother Tucker® Collection. Belly Bandit® products are sold in more than 1,000 retailers nationwide and over 80 countries worldwide. Their success has earned Lori and her sisters the moniker, Sisterpreneurs of Shapewear.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Myfamily is originally from Michigan, and although we loved it there, we have definitely adjusted to living in sunny Los Angeles. In fact, my sister, myself and my parents all live on the same street and my little sister moved a whole mile away! Which means family time is all the time and we never miss a Sunday dinner!
My parents instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in all of us and we all enjoy the inherent challenges of startups. Kari, my younger sister and I started a promotional marketing company called Caden Concepts. We literally started the business out of our apartment and it grew from there. I mean who doesn’t need personalized products and we do it all — from t-shirts to mouse pads…you name it.
My older sister is an award winning design guru and ran a successful cabinetry company in Michigan which she sold before moving to California.
Belly Bandit was founded as direct result of my first pregnancy. My sisters were sick of hearing me complain about my post-baby belly. We knew there had to be a better way for women to get their body back after baby. We also had the background (due to Caden Concepts) in sourcing that helped us get started The Belly Bandit was conceived after years or research, consultation with OB/GYNS and trial and error. By the time my second child was born, we had created our first Belly Wrap and knew we had a product that would revolutionize the industry. We pride ourselves on combining functionality with fashion and are committed to designing innovative products that give women confidence as their bodies and needs change.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I’m always ready to take on a new challenge and ‘can’t’ is not part of my vocabulary — just ask my kids! I recently tasked one of my Caden Concepts account managers with securing the Dodgers as a client. At first, she thought I was joking, I wasn’t! I basically told her that somebody had to supply their “swag” — so why not us? As a strong women-owned and operated company I was confident that that we could secure them as a client …if only we could get them on the phone! We worked tirelessly for eight months and that phone call finally happened…which let led to a meeting, one ingenious presentation, more phone calls and then an order! We’re now proud to call the Dodgers one of our latest clients and we all, “Live. Breathe. Blue!” (you can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the girl!)
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As I mentioned, Belly Bandit is a women-owned and operated company that is 100% focused on creating solution-based products for women. Our very first product was created out of my own personal need and the knowledge that if it could help me, other women could benefit from it as well. Over the last decade (yes, that long!) we have focused on creating products that address very specific needs of pregnant and postpartum women. Most of our products are generated from ideas and concerns we hear from friends, family and co-workers. We’re not shy about wanting to solve the problems many women face during this time in their lives. I believe this resonates with our customer and has helped us to grow and become an integral part of the maternity and post-pregnancy community.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would not be where I am today without the support of my sisters. We brought our skills together to create Belly Bandit and its success is in a large part due to our combined efforts. I come from the marketing world, my older sister Jodi is a brilliant designer, and my younger sister Kari worked in sourcing — the dream team! But truthfully it comes down to a shared mission, the trust we have in one another, and splitting business-related stress 3-ways helps, too!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I really believe that resilience comes in two parts. The first is to use any disadvantages you have to motivate you. We are a woman-owned and operated company and while we are very proud of that fact, it has presented challenges. Along the way, we have had dozens of people tell us that we couldn’t possibly be as successful as more established, male-led companies. We use that every day to help drive our creativity and passion. And secondly, we are aware that we are only a strong as our parts and building an amazing team that believes in our mission helps fuel our resilience on a daily basis.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My sister, Jodi is the most resilient person I know. She has been my rock in almost every situation throughout my life. Jodi has an ability to roll with the punches with grace and resilience no matter the hardships. No is not in her vocabulary and honestly that’s a big factor behind Belly Bandit’s success. When somebody says, “there isn’t a solution for that” Jodi’s answer is “that’s unacceptable, lets create one.”
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Absolutely! When my sisters and I were looking to develop a solution for postpartum body issues, we were met with a lot of resistance. We were basically told that our idea, modernizing postpartum compression, wouldn’t work and that woman would not be interested in our product. We knew that was untrue and we were unwilling to accept that way of thinking. Women spend 9 months pregnant and then begin caring for an infant — but who is there to take care of their needs? My sisters and I knew that there had to be a better way to address the concerns of new moms. We were confident, despite the naysayers, that if we could develop a product to give women postpartum support, it would be successful. And guess what? We were right!
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
In 2008 we were sued by a high-profile celebrity. It was unexpected, we were in shock, and concerned that it may be the end of our business plans. My sister Jodi was the first to say, “we will not let this deter us.” She was confident that we had to stay the course and continue with our mission to help women look and feel their best. Jodi was convinced that we couldn’t let this setback get the better of us. We not only made it through this lawsuit, but we learned a lot from the experience and in an ironic twist it garnered us some very positive PR!
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
This is a tough one. I know that many times people answer this question with details about a traumatic upbringing, but honestly that just isn’t my story. My parents worked hard every day and brought a lot happiness and joy into our lives. They were always very supportive and when one of us had a particularly bad day or faced adversity they taught us how to turn it around and use it to build confidence and strength. My parents raised three very independent, resilient girls and it’s definitely a trait we try and pass along to our children.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the best way to handle setbacks or negativity is to let it go or let it wash over you, I think the first step to leading a life of resiliency is to absorb those setbacks and use them to fuel your fire.
Second is to drown out the background noise. There is so much going on in the world and in our individual lives, but if you allow those things to distract you, you can not be completely focused on your goals.
Third, don’t be afraid to change your approach. If something isn’t working, it’s time to look at it from a different perspective rather than become discouraged.
Fourth, surround yourself with people who want to raise you up. It may hurt to cut out the naysayers, but if you have tried to instill positivity in to your best friend from fifth grade and she is still filling your you mind with doubt, it may be time to move on.
Fifth, manage your emotions before they manage you. Focus on your long-term success over your temporary disappointments.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I was walking through my Sherman Oaks neighborhood a few weeks ago and saw a woman and her child living on the sidewalk. The child was dirty and wearing clothes that were far too large for her and the mother had shoes that were completely worn through. The homeless problem in Los Angeles is out of control and issue that I would like to call more attention to and help address. Unfortunately, I feel like many of our politicians try to sweep it under the rug because there are no easy solutions. That’s not ok with me, we can do more and I’d want to inspire a movement that focuses on finding housing and services for this community.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Sara Blakley is an amazing woman and I would love to “lunch” with her! I feel like we have very similar story and her rise to the top of the fashion industry (and her ability to stay there!) is truly inspiring.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find my company on Instagram @bellybandit and our personal profile is @thecadensisters — we hope you’ll follow us and say, hello!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!