"My father said to me when I was really young, 'You know, if you want to build a company and you want to be successful, you have to hire people that are better than you in every area that you can,'" said Bendet Eisner. "When I find someone who is better than me at something in the company, I'm so happy…so excited. I just want to nurture them and teach them and help them grow."
Growth is something in which she excels. As a young fashion designer in 2002, she founded Alice + Olivia with the quest to "create the perfect pair of pants." Since then, she's built it into an international lifestyle brand with dozens of free-standing stores throughout the globe, an e-commerce site at aliceandolivia.com, and a presence in 800 of the finest department and specialty stores throughout the world. To this day, she remains its CEO and creative director. She is married to Eric Eisner, son of former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner.
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"I handle all the creative in my company," Bendet Eisner explained. "The tipping point was hiring a president who took over all of the operations, all of finances—everything that would bog my brain down. My core team is amazing in that they do understand my vision. They do understand the creativity, the essence of the brand. As you grow, you need more and more people that understand that."
Same goes for growing a candy empire. Said Lauren: "The people at Dylan's Candy Bar, they have to have an inner child and a sense of fun … and love the colors and the textures." She added, "Some of our most creative lines have come from people who worked in completely different industries, not just candy, but it could be a toy industry or a fashion industry or an art industry."
Both are wives and mothers of young children. Lauren recently welcomed twins, and Bendet Eisner—at the time of this interview—was almost seven months pregnant with her third child. Both acknowledged the challenges of finding work/life balance, but that they are luckier than most because—as boss—they get to somewhat control their schedules … but have to be prepared to work whenever because you can't always predict when a creative moment will show up.
Lauren: "People get emails from me at 3 in the morning. (And they ask) Where were you?"
Bendet Eisner: "Same. I always tell everyone: …'You don't have to answer, but I have to get it out'."