In Conversation with Kari Caden of Belly Bandit & Proof

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Describe Belly Bandit and Proof in a few words?

Both companies were created to make women’s lives a little easier in some way. We like to say our products are problem solvers. 

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

There was never a time that we didn’t want to work together – we always had the work bug. Sometimes to a fault if you ask our mom!

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

Early on I was an MC/DJ/Dancer for large events like weddings, corporate events etc., then when I moved to California from Michigan I had a small craft services company with a friend. Shortly after my sister Lori moved out to California we opened Caden Concepts. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I guess so but not so much knowing the magnitude of the word or the impact it would have on our lives. Each of us had our own businesses prior to Belly Bandit and Proof. Even when we were young (I’m talking teens and early twenties) Jodi was an artist and sold beautiful canvas paintings to art galleries all over Michigan, Lori made and sold jewelry and I left college every weekend to MC for weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and events.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

We all had this one paperweight on our desks that read: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail”. So everything we did we used that as our barometer. We did a lot of celebrity seeding. This was 2008 so it was before social media took off so it was a lot of magazines, print work and full page ads. We were really lucky with all of the organic PR.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Well we have had plenty to be quite honest, we call our day to day work our “business school”.  Whether it’s a simple printing issue, a management mistake, a legal woe or garment produced wrong – the upside is it only needs to happen once.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I would say it is every time I hear someone who has a story about using our products – and how it changed their life in some way. I’ve heard it made them feel stronger, gave them more confidence, gave them a lift (physically or mentally) and truthfully that’s when I feel proudest.  

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

Where do you see yourself in 3 and 5 years? It’s important to see where they want to go with their career path and if they plan on being with us short/long term.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

We are so thankful that it has not impacted us negatively, it’s taught us some valuable lessons but we are extremely grateful that women trust us and depend on our products.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Well we are always innovating and bringing new products and categories to each company. We are working on some new patents as well!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Cherish family and make sure to be grateful for your health. Work is always going to be there – so manage accordingly!

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

How to delegate better so we could spend more time on what we are good at which is creating and innovating.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Has anyone been able to really stay that grounded?! I think when you are constantly in a team environment you automatically stay grounded in a sense. You have so much to do every day that somehow other stresses (like living in quarantine) somehow fall to the wayside (thankfully). Now weekends are a whole different beast!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

As much as I believe in it I am constantly trying to work harder on a better balance. As a mom, wife, daughter and business partner I try my best to please everyone so it can get challenging. I try to end my day at a specific time so I can focus on being present at home with the family. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

None of us went to business school, none of us were great students. We only knew what we wanted and that was to work together and had a motto that failure was never an option. 

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Get your butt up and walk away from your computer a few times a day.  
  • Read a motivating quote or two if you can. 
  • Keep in contact with your friends and people that make you smile or laugh.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means you control your own narrative, you create your legacy and destiny. 

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