Behind Her Empire: Lele Sadoughi on Running All Aspects of a Business and ‘Faking It Til You Make It’

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Lele Sadoughi in black and white with a headband
Lele Sadoughi

On this episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, accessory designer Lele Sadoughi talks about her commitment to entrepreneurship, breaking into the fashion industry, and how there will never be a perfect moment to start something new.


Sadoughi started her business at one of the busiest times of her life – she was freshly married, raising two kids and designing jewelry for Tory Burch.

“I realized that is when I thrive, I have to be busy,” she laughed. “ And I think getting my hands wet in all different parts of the company…I'm dealing with marketing and merchandising and operations and sales and human resources, and everything like that.”

Working part time at Tory Burch allowed Sadoughi to fund the early days of her business on her own.

“Wholesale was a big part of that,” she explained. “Use that guaranteed purchase order against the PO that I would send to the factories to buy the product. So we were able to grow at a steady pace, and not really rush or expedite.”

Today, Lele Sadoughi sells designer jewelry including statement necklaces, headbands, bracelets, earrings and handbags. But in the early days, Sadoughi was doing everything she could to get her business off the ground.

“When I first started doing my own customer service I even had a different name that we would use,” she said. “Vivian would be the name for customer service because like, I can't say it's me. So you know, you kind of fake it till you make it.”

After years of steady growth, Sadoughi said it was her headband line that really “propelled” her brand.

“I truly started wearing headbands, because I did not have time to do my hair,” she said. “And then I was just not satisfied with anything I could find…what you find was like something from the drugstore for a few dollars, or something very costume that was really high end and really expensive. And so I knew that there'd be a market for that in between.”

Innovation has always been important to Sadoughi, and she is still learning everyday – especially when aspects of the business, like marketing efforts, are always changing.

“The thing about being in a creative field is you could get the idea in five minutes, or it could take you five days,” she said. “And I think you just need to cut yourself some slack and realize that you might have a little bit of writer's block, or you might get the idea and it’s a fluid business. And you just have to have the strength to know and the patience to go forward.”

dot.la social and engagement intern Gitanjali Mahapatracontributed to this post.

This podcast is produced by Behind Her Empire. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.

Hear more of the Behind Her Empire podcast. Subscribe on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radioor wherever you get your podcasts.

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