Women in Business Q&A: Lori Caden, CEO of Belly Bandit

Lori Caden is the CEO of Los Angeles, CA based Belly Bandit. The company, created in 2008, revolutionized the maternity world by introducing the first ever post-partum compression wrap, the Belly Bandit. Lori has overseen the development of the Belly Bandit brand and the introduction of the Mother Tucker and BDA (before, during & after) clothing lines. Lori's growth strategy and leadership has resulted in Belly Bandit products being sold in more than 1000 retailers nationwide and over 80 countries worldwide. Lori credits her success to hard work, her commitment to innovation and the support she receives from her two biggest fans, daughter Charlee and son Chase.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I grew up in a family of strong, independent, women. I am the middle of 3 girls so I was always looking for ways to stand out and be heard. I started a sticker trading club at age 8, began designing clothes and selling them to retail stores as a teen and opened Caden Concepts, my first company, at age 25. It has always been about challenging myself to make things happen and have people take notice.

How did your previous employment experience aid your position at Belly Bandit?
My Father and Mother both owned their own companies, so you can say I'm a born entrepreneur in the truest sense. I always knew it was in my blood and unless you count babysitting I never really had employment outside of my own companies. I started my promotions company, Caden Concepts, right out of college. That experience was incredibly empowering and pushed aside any lingering doubts regarding my ability to succeed in business. I was able to create Belly Bandit off the heels of that experience since I already had the infrastructure in place.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I hate this question because the truth is every day brings different challenges and I don't think I'm ever completely in balance. Will I leave the office in the middle of the day to take my kids to the doctor? Of course! Will I take a business call while out with my family? Yes, I'll do that too. I try to make it all work - but I can't say that my life is always in balance; each day brings brings something new.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Belly Bandit?
Since I created Belly Bandit the highlight has always been the positive feedback we get from women all over the globe about our products. When our customers tell us that Belly Bandit products make them feel good about themselves and their bodies, that gives me great satisfaction - mission accomplished! One of the biggest challenges, that I face daily, is trying to remember to enjoy the journey.

What advice can you offer women looking to start their own business?
Passion and perseverance. It's an unbeatable combination.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Two words; self-doubt.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I'm a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg, she has opened a critical dialogue on women in the workforce. The "Lean In" movement is incredibly empowering for women of all ages. What she's saying is what we tell our kids, believe in yourself, why not carry that message into the workplace? As a mom and an entrepreneur I appreciate that she's using her voice and her influence to address the self-doubt that has held so many women back..."lean in" will never be thought of in the same way again!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Because I have never had a professional mentor (Is Sara Blakely free next week?) I always make myself available to other women in business. If I can help with cliff notes to accelerate their learning process or help them avoid some of the pitfalls I faced - then I'll do it --pay it forward!

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Oprah. She sets the standard, a brilliant business woman who's universally loved. Madonna because she's not afraid to take risks, and doesn't let other people's opinions dissuade her. Not to mention she doesn't give a damn what others think.

What are your hopes for the future of Belly Bandit?
Growth, continued innovation and somewhere down the line acquisition. (Who knows, maybe then I can finally take a vacation!)