Lele Sadoughi didn’t invent the headband, but the Dallas-born designer definitely perfected it. To call her signature knotted style a phenomenon is almost an understatement. Fashionable young women love them. Cool moms do, too. And an A-list celebrity following includes the likes of Nicole Kidman, Naomi Campbell, Drew Barrymore, and Olivia Palermo. By the end of the year, the company is slated to sell more than 100,000 gingham cotton, leopard-print silk, and pearl-encrusted designs.
It all began two years ago. Sadoughi was busy running her eponymous jewelry company and chasing after two small kids. “Headbands came out of necessity,” she says. “I didn’t have time to do my hair. I could throw on a headband and in one minute look pretty and polished. But what was available was either poor quality or costumey. I decided to design one I’d want to wear.”
Her timing couldn’t have been better. In February 2018, headbands were front and center on the Prada catwalk. Sadoughi began teasing them on Instagram, and online retailers like Shopbop and Revolve immediately bought in. Her website business exploded.
“There was nothing else like it on the market,” she says. “With price points at $40 to $198 retail, I filled the niche by offering high-quality pieces that were also attainable.” A limited-edition tie-dye version sold out in 30 minutes.
This isn’t the multifaceted designer’s first success. In 2005, she pioneered J.Crew’s jewelry division, growing the business to $40 million in just five years. “I was able to take more risks because there was no history,” she says. Not long after Sadoughi decided to break out on her own, Tory Burch came calling. Her role as the luxury brand’s jewelry design director was ideal. “I had the flexibility to work half-time while designing my own collection,” she says.
In 2012, Sadoughi debuted her jewelry line with hinged slider bracelets featuring colorful stones. The brand now encompasses hair accessories, handbags, sunglasses, and home decor in addition to her ubiquitous headbands. Locally, her products are available at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, 4510/Six, Tootsies, and Anthropologie. Earlier this fall, she introduced her new Game Day sports collection at Forty Five Ten, featuring a Cowboys-inspired headband adorned with silver stars.
Her most recent venture was a limited-edition collaboration with J.Crew: matching mommy and mini headbands in velvet and tartan plaid. Come spring, she’ll add specialty socks, sun visors, and colorful straw hats to her product mix. “We’re well on our way to building a total lifestyle brand,” Sadoughi says. “The most thrilling thing for me is when someone buys from every category. It means they get my vision.”