Pregnancy and starting a family is overwhelming by itself – try starting a business in the middle of it. What could go wrong? Katy Mimari laughs through the unexpected origin story of Caden Lane, from shipping diaper bags out of her garage to the ups and downs of running a 7 figure business as a single mom.
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[intro music] Hey welcome to I’m that mom the podcast about motherhood without the pressure of perfection. My name is Katy. I’m a self taught entrepreneur who started my baby company while pregnant and grew it to an eight figure business as a single mom of three. Join us as we discuss the fun, funny and messy parts of motherhood. We’re certainly not experts. We’re just here to support all the moms and hopefully, collectively, we don’t completely f- it up.
Okay, we’re here. We’re going this is our first podcast. Okay. I’m Katy, this is definitely the first time we’ve ever done this. But we’re gonna, we’re gonna kill it per usual and you’re going to ask me the best questions ever. And we’re going to start a conversation and, and let’s see where it goes. I’m excited.
I can’t wait. Yeah. Okay. So I’m just going to jump right in then because I think a lot of us already know about Caden Lane, but tell us what made you want to start the baby clothing line,
Oh, gosh, well, baby clothing now, right? And the crazy part is, is it’s not really how it started. I actually started this company, fresh out of college, I was engaged planning my wedding and you know, obsessing over all the things and I knew that I wanted to create a product and so, right, every woman or women that grew up loving fashion, like we want to create apparel, but I knew that the industry was just oversaturated, and I needed to think of something that was gonna be an easier way in. And so like our age, right, like 24, 25, your friends start getting married.
And I remember being in the car with a good friend that had just had her first baby. And she had this horrible diaper bag in the back seat of her car. Like it was the kind that’s like, smoked and had like two trains on the front and was quilted and like a backpack and it just- and this was not this mom, like she was the mom that was always put together. Funny. She was a teacher like she had her life together. But her diaper bag was horrible.
And I remember the moment where we were sitting in the car, and we were driving, and I asked her about it. And she was like, Well, this was the best I could find. And I said, Oh my god, like, this is what I need to do. But remember, I didn’t even have kids at this point. So learning about what a diaper bag needed. I was like, it can’t be that different than like your favorite purse, right? Just needs pockets for bottles, pockets for diapers, lots of pockets. That seemed to be like the general rule that moms were telling me. And so I mean, that was kind of that moment, like where I said, Okay, I’m gonna start with diaper bags.
So diaper bags is how Caden Lane started, not apparel, which it’s grown. And there’s been so many products in between, but it’s been a crazy ride. So knowing nothing about manufacturing, like literally nothing, I can’t even sew a button onto a shirt. It’s so bad. But I figured it out. I can draw. And I remember drawing like my first bag just on a piece of paper, and kind of looking for manufacturers, getting online- this is long before these websites now where you can like go and find any manufacturer you want and source and you know, we’re based here in Texas. And so Mexico is like our next door neighbor. And so my first manufacturer was actually in Guadalajara, and [Katy speaks Spanish]. Like that? I don’t even have an accent, but I minored in Spanish in college. So it ended up that was one of the few things I took from my degree that really like helped with school. I don’t know. So I plan my trip to go down to Mexico to meet this manufacturer. literally weeks before find out I’m pregnant.
So I packed up my stuff. I tell my husband at the time, I’m like, I’m going down to meet with this manufacturer. He’s like, You can’t do that by yourself. Of course. I was like, watch me do it. And I went down and we made the first samples and I mean, it was looking back now it was crazy. I don’t think I could like go down as like a young 25 year old pregnant to Mexico to someplace I’d never been and do it all over. But I was fearless. And it was amazing. Right?
So I came back and found out that I was having little boy which I have a feeling you’re going to ask me how we came up with the name Caden Lane because that seems to be like the number one question people ask like where did Caden Lane come from? So when you start a company, right like the first thing is you have to think of a name so I had established that I was going to do a diaper bag company. Remember at the moment at the time I wasn’t pregnant then found out I was pregnant. And just being in kind of like familiar with all the baby products is the one thing I don’t want to do is name my company like after my children, right? There’s so many baby products out there that are like giggles and diapers and you know Jack and Lily and you know love and cookie like it’s just kind of cheesy names. And I wanted something that was more timeless. And something that could really like grow with the brand and or the brand could grow with it. And it could be anything.
And so my first company, so I’m gonna rewind back, like I’m all over the map here on stories. But my very first company, my first experience as an entrepreneur was in college, and I was a photographer, and I would go to daycare centers and photograph little babies with like Santa Claus and bunnies, and we even, being in Texas, trailered a pony around to schools, and took pictures of kids sitting on horses. Yeah. So fun, but it was great. And I killed it, I’d stay up. We’d worked for like six weeks. It was my first experience with business. I loved it. But the one thing I remembered is that every little boy that came in, that was like, so cute and so sweet. His name was Caden. And it was like kind of I mean, I was 19, 20, 21 when I was doing this, and I said, that is going to be my kid’s name.
So you know how every woman like, at the age of like, probably 16. Right? We start thinking or dreaming about having a baby and we obsess over names that we think we’re going to name them like when I don’t know friends came out like everyone wanted to name their baby Emma because Jennifer Aniston named their baby Emma. Like that kind of thing. Well, I wanted the name Caden. And so when I was really in that process of trying to figure out what I was gonna name my company, my younger sister got pregnant and announced to our whole family that she was naming her child, Caden, and I was furious. I remember like calling my mom and going, This isn’t fair. She stole my name. I’m like, 25 At this point, right? You’re 24 years old, like temper tantrum not allowed. Through a complete temper tantrum. My mom’s like, well, she’s pregnant. You’re not and I’m like, That’s bullshit, but whatever. So you know what I did? I went down, and I registered it and trademarked it and it became my name. So literally, like the company got name because, like, to spite right that my sister tried to steal it, and the only thing I could do so then, of course, I like made the call. And I said, Okay, well, you can name your child that, but I’ve already trademarked it, and that’s my company. And so if you’re gonna name your child after my company, that’s fine. She named her baby something else.
But as karma will have it, I then found out I was having a boy. And I was like, dammit, I can’t my best baby named my company. And so my son’s name is Kade. And I tell people like to this day, right? He’s 17. He just turned 17. People were like, Oh, that’s so cute. Like you named your company after your baby. I’m like, No, actually, company came first. And then I named Kade. And it was not after my company, and his name is not Caden. And I said, technically, my child was named after my company. So I did it completely backwards, whatever. Okay, so I established the name, Caden Lane, like it just has a good ring. I love that it could just be a name, that could be anything.
And it was time for me to order my first order. So remember, at this moment, I had no stores like all I had was six diaper bags. It was like three styles. They were brown and black with like simple pink and blue trim, I remember. And the insides had the prints and the colors, because I’ve always had a thing for color. I just, I love it makes me happy. Like, I’m wearing a black shirt. But actually, I really love color. And I love the surprise of it that you’d open a diaper bag. And it was like the fun was inside. And but it was black or brown. So it went with everybody’s outfits. And I felt like it was more made for mom and less made for baby. Whereas before it was like, like I said, like quilting and choo choo trains and it was too baby. And so I had to come up with the money right to start a company.
And what I did is while in college, I was in Austin, and I’m a huge lake girl. Like if anybody asks where I relax, it’s always by the lake. And so I saved up all my money, and I bought a boat, and I trailed it around in college. That’s a whole nother podcast, with interviews. It was so much fun, but I sold it. And I use the money from my boat to fund my company. And so I actually placed like a $20,000 purchase order in Mexico. Like they could have taken my money and ran and bought like some beach house and like, just done whatever with it. But I just knew and I had faith and I felt like I was on to something. And so I got my first order it was delivered into our home our first house, and the entire garage was filled with boxes of diaper bags. And at this point, I’m like five months pregnant too.
And so I packed up the car and I went to the first store. And you know I walked into the first store with bags on my shoulders and met the store owner it was a maternity store who actually the owner of it is still my best friend today. So I love that like you know serendipitous kind of stories, but, and then I went to the next store and they ordered. And then I went to the next store and I drove to Houston. And I got those stores. And then I drove to Dallas. And so I mean, I literally went door to door – puking, mind you the entire way through. I mean, I was pregnant belly nauseous, horrible, like six diaper bags on my back in, you know, the heat of Texas summer, right? And just kind of walking in and winging it. And I went from, you know, a handful of stores in Texas to then a handful of states, and then expanded beyond there. And then, you know, got stores internationally. And I knew I was on to something.
I wanted to plan my first market. And so this is prior to websites, right? Like this is 17 years ago. So brands didn’t have like websites and accessibility to stores like they do today. And so we had to go to market and the biggest market was in New York. So I know, right, like at this point to really get outside of Texas stores, I needed to go to market, but I was eight months pregnant. And so I had to go to my OB and convince her right, so market was literally four weeks after my due date. And I knew like I’m the person that’s gonna be pregnant for 42 weeks. And I’m a planner, like, penciled in was my due date, like I was ready. And you know, I wanted to induce like the whole thing doctor wouldn’t let me. So I went in, met with my doctor and I told her, I said, Look, we need to talk. I mean, they’re taking a four week Old to New York market, or I’m taking a six week old. And she’s like, What do you mean, you’re going to market? It’s like I started a company. It’s called Caden Lane. She’s like, well, you’re taking a six week old, this
is your first baby. I was like, Yes, I am. Like, it’s fine. Like, it can’t be that hard. I got this. And so we argued back and forth. I’m pretty sure I told her I was gonna be stripping my membranes if she didn’t. And so she agreed, we scheduled induction, which mind you my due date was literally like a week after my birthday. And so I didn’t want to have the baby on my birthday. And so on top of scheduling for market, I was like, and also, July is a really good birthstone. And if we could avoid July 2, because that’s my birthday. And she’s like, Okay, so we’re going to induce you day before I was like, perfect, I’ll be able to take a six week old to market it’s he’s not gonna be born on my birthday. Karma, right, like Karma is a bitch, guess who labored for 24 hours and then had a baby on her birthday. But it’s fine.
Via C section.
Via C section. But now like, I am very pro C section. So I didn’t do the whole like, you know, Vbac and try both ways. I was like, I’m only ruining one way out. And so my last two kids were C section. And I will say that now at 43. My friends that will have vaginal birth, can’t jump on a trampoline. Guess who can jump on a trampoline doesn’t have any problems. But it’s how it worked out. And it’s great. And what’s important was a happy healthy baby. Right? I packed up my diaper bags, and we headed off to New York with a six week old strapped to my chest and my best friend in tow.
We set up at market, Nordstrom came by. I didn’t know what I was doing. I remember them asking questions about like sku’s and barcodes. And I was like, I don’t know, like, don’t you like my diaper bag, you know, and my newborn. And turns out too like I have to mention, a pregnant woman selling diaper bags is like the best marketing scheme ever. And then also a new mom with a six week old explaining why her diaper bags are so amazing, also brilliant. Didn’t sleep. I mean, I remember hiding behind the curtain to breastfeed every three hours. It was a whirlwind. But looking back now, the pictures are just – it’s, it was crazy. And it was fun. And we just made it work.
And now all your kids have gone to market with you.
All my kids. So every single baby yeah, I remember like, because you can’t plan that right like me. Of course I’m like we can only have sex and get pregnant this month because market is this month and like I have to, no, it never worked out that way. I took every one of my babies to market I think I have pictures like in Atlanta and Dallas and New York like and I’ve tried all the slings and baby carriers because I would learn like well this one hurts after standing all day or this one, you know, and it was it was great.
Like we just passed around the baby and I made it work and we’d have strollers and carriers I had like a little station in my booth and right around four months is when I made them start staying home. But yeah, they went with me they’ve, they played with calculators in the corner like I am that story where they’re my kids I think one day will tell their kids like, yeah, mom just like dragged us along. Like we didn’t have a childhood, we went to market.
but I love that because throughout the growth of Caden Lane, you’ve always found a way to make it work.
Always. And you know, we’ve, I’ve been through so many offices and I’ve been through so many, you know, we just finished a brand new building two years ago that we already grew out of now we’re starting a new building. And, you know, I work with almost all women, I love – you’re a new mom, like, I love it, I love being able to show women that you can have both like that we can be really great moms and have careers and, and that our kids like, how awesome that when the kids come to work. And they get to see that, like you enjoy what you do. Like, I think that’s the part that is really cool.
And, and I learned it, my mom’s an entrepreneur, you know, I watched her work. And, of course, when I was a teenager, I was like, This isn’t fair, like, all my friend’s moms are at all their things. And they’re obsessed with them. And my mom, you know, was up till 2am working and all the things but I can appreciate it now. I think it’s I think it’s great. You know, our kids sometimes come to work, like if they’re sick, or I go home, and I work when they’re not feeling good. But yeah.
So your passion for entrepreneurship began at a very early age. And you knew right away that you wanted to have family and a business. So talk a little bit more about that.
Yes. And it’s so relevant right now, because my oldest is about to go off into college. And he’s trying to decide like what his major is. And I remember being in college, and I went to UT go horns. [laughter] And I wanted both, like, I wanted the career and the business and the dream. But at the same time, I wanted the family too like I remembered, you know, I’ve always wanted kids like I love kids and newborn and their smell is like crack and you can eat them. Like I wanted the whole thing. But then I also wanted to be a powerhouse and like run a huge company. And I, I don’t think I ever felt like I had to pick one or the other. I just knew that I could have both. And so going into it. And of course, like my company came first and then the baby was like months after. Ideally, I don’t recommend you like doing them at the exact same time. But also like, you know, you can’t control things like that. And I think it’s important just to run with it. And if it’s all happening, then it’s happening and you make the best of it.
Okay, so we got a lot of your background and your history. But you tell us who is Katy Mimari?
you know what, I think I’m not who you think I am, like, you know, even doing this, like, I’m super uncomfortable. And that’s and I forgot to take my anxiety meds. And so that’s why y’all keep pouring me champagne. This is a disaster, and it’s on film. And I’m red, the whole thing. Like, this isn’t natural to me, right? What’s natural to me is just doing what I love. And a long time ago, somebody told me if you figure out what you love to do, and then you can figure out a way to make money doing it like you win life. And so I’m just that person, like trying to make sure that I wake up and enjoy my job. I am not the girl that like wants to be on stage talking to 50,000 people.
Like I’m the person that wants to be on my back patio, like at the lake with no makeup on. And you know, what did they call it like imposter syndrome? I am like the poster child like the Gerber Baby, I should be the mom for that. I mean, it’s I’m balancing this like career, right? And then motherhood. And I don’t know what I’m doing. Like, I don’t even, I’m pretty sure I’m like blacklisted from my kids school’s emails, because I feel like every other mom gets every email and knows what’s happening. And I’m the one that’s like, What do you mean, the first day of school is tomorrow, like holy shit. Or, you know, I just I’m winging it. And I that’s probably like, that’s who I am, is I’m just figuring it out day to day. There is no perfection. There’s no rules. I’m completely unconventional. Who am I? I’m not an alcoholic, because I can have one glass of wine a day and stop. So I can definitely take that off the checklist. I am kind of a little OCD. I like things organized and clean. But my car is a disaster. I’m the mom that, like, wants her kids to figure it out by themselves. Like I’m not the helicopter mom.
you want them to be as driven as you.
And how do you teach your kids that you know, that’s like my struggle now is like how did I learn it? And how did maybe some of my siblings didn’t and I think it just comes like within and it probably stems from that power of like what makes you happy and I what makes me happy is somebody not telling me what to do. Like if you tell me what to do I like immediately I’m ah we’ll do the opposite. You know and I am in the position where I get to create this environment that I work in and I tried working from home and it is not for me because 1. I snack all day, 2. there’s nobody there to tell me I can’t drink. that’s bad [laughter] I’m going to sound like an alcoholic after this. And 3. I just I like a little bit separation like I go to work and it’s about me and then I come home and it’s about the kids and though what’s really cool is when I created this company, I knew that I always wanted it to be this environment that just kind of lifted up moms and working women in general, you know, before they had kids or after they had kids.
And so even to this day, like, this is probably the most makeup you’ll see on my face. Like we show up in our pajamas to work. I call it comfy to create, I think you can be yourself and we don’t need to be in suits. And we don’t need to fit the mold, like we’re running a badass nine figure company and half of us show up in our sweat suits. And that is winning in life. And I think, you know, that, for me is a goal with our culture in general. I’ve got a team of stay at home moms that work from home and help create our products every day. And I have you know, one of our girls just had a baby and I can’t I’m like waiting for her to bring the baby in to work next week. So we can all pass it around. Because that’s like it you know, like when you just hold the newborn is just like, Baby crack. I love that our work culture supports families, and that, you know, I I’m excited I have four pregnant people working for me right now. That gives me a little anxiety. But also I know how amazing it is because they’re like my babies. Like I get to be a grandma before even I’m old enough to be a grandma. I’m an auntie. I’m Auntie Katie. But I love these people. And I love everyone that works with us. And I think we all have that that connection. And you don’t get to recreate that in the corporate world.
I get asked a lot, right, like, how did you start it? Or how did you come up with the idea? And I think it goes back to that. You know, I wanted both I wanted the family and I wanted the company and I never, I’m not a risk taker. I don’t gamble, you know, but I’m a little bit fearless. I guess. Like I just, I didn’t accept for myself that it wasn’t gonna work. I just thought, well, it’s like a roller coaster, right? Like, we’re gonna have ups and downs. And so, and really, like now at work it doesn’t work to my favor because every time we’re on an up and I’m like, it’s coming. The downs, come on, you know, but I know it happens like that. And I grew up with a really strong mother that worked. And I saw her grow her company huge. And she was her own boss, and I wanted to be my own boss. I didn’t you know, even today, I want my husband to be my partner. You know, he’s not better than me. He’s not he’s definitely not my boss. And I, I wanted to make the own my own decisions in my life. And I think that’s where the entrepreneurial like spirit lives.
And so if like a new mom was asking, like, how did you do it? And how can I do it? I would say take the mom thing out of it. That’s just like who you are. Right? And I have kids, but it’s not it doesn’t define me. And running my company or doing what I love and creating products and taking pictures of babies and interacting with new moms and trying to help them make their lives easier is where is what fueled my lack of fear? Maybe, right? Like I just felt like, well, maybe if I can make it better for one person, like one mom that her nursery is her favorite room in her house, or one mom that loves her diaper bag and carries it as her purse also, or today. You know, the one mom where the biggest day in her life is her child’s birth. And we get to be a part of that. Like, we’re the first outfit that she puts on her baby. And we’re in her picture that she introduces her baby to the world. And we’re the swaddle that like she goes into the nursery and smells and dreams of her baby because she sees the name on the swaddle, like to be that emotionally connected with our customers and make that much of an impact.
I mean, every new mom has a box, right? Like their favorite, like the first outfits that baby wore in the baby book and like maybe the umbilical cord. That’s kind of gross, but you keep all kinds of weird shit. Yeah. But we’re in there. And so in like 20 years when these babies are pulling out their outfits for their newborns, you know, and they they pull out their little Caden Lane gown or their footie or tell a story about how this was her first swaddle or her favorite blanket. And so our company’s evolved, right? Like we don’t even make diaper bags anymore, but they may be coming soon. But, but, you know, it’s just I think that my company’s changed with me and that’s what makes us unconventional is that we’re gonna be whatever our moms need us to be. And it’s why we’re here filming this podcast, right? Like, my whole goal is I want to take out, like, let’s talk about how there’s no rules. You know, I, there’s no rules on how you mother, I mean, if you want to stay at home and read all the books and have a schedule, and that works for you, then it’s going to make you a better mom.
You know, what works for me is having something during the day, that’s me, and then I go home. And my whole goal and like raising my children is to not raise assholes. That’s probably not the best goal. But if they’re good people, and like live good lives, and they’re not assholes, like they’re not some jerk, you know, or I just don’t want to be assholes. Like, that’s the best way to put it. And I feel like if I do that, I don’t even need them to be straight A students. I mean, I really like as an entrepreneur, and owning my own business. And like being this like, fake powerhouse of women working like the whole thing. My whole goal is I want my kids to love what they do, also. 80% of the time. I think there’s like an 80/20 rule, because like, 20% of the time, I definitely hate my job, and 20% of the time, I don’t even like my kids. But 80% I’m winning, right and 80% of the time, I feel good about it. And if we can, like help normalize average parenting, if we can help normalize, like taking out that perfection. Or just letting moms know that there’s no rules, like, I shouldn’t feel guilty that I had a C section and I shouldn’t feel guilty that I took my six week old to market. I think that’s kind of badass. You know, I want my daughter to do that. Or I want her to stay home if that’s what she wants to do.
But I think that women need to start supporting each other better, and realizing that what works for you doesn’t work for me and what works for me might not work for you. But also like, here’s some really great tips and tricks. You know, I used to throw 500 pacifiers in my baby’s crib, because I would be damned if they woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t have a paci to find. And you know, but if you tell me, you don’t want to use pacifiers and you want them to self soothe, I think that’s great too. Like you do you? I’m gonna do me. And you know, more happy people in this world. We could use more happy people in this world. For sure.
[Outro] That was so fun. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And I hope you found a little nugget of something helpful in there. If you’re curious about our brand and what we’ve been up to you can check us out at Kaden lane.com. Or join us on social where we’ve got several exciting projects that we can’t wait to get you involved in. See you soon.