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What Accessories Designer Lele Sadoughi Can’t Live Without

Photo: Courtesy of Lele Sadoughi

You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked accessories designer Lele Sadoughi — who just launched a new line of handbags and travel cases for headbands — about the hot sauce, shampoo, and cleaning supplies she can’t live without.

Most restaurants only carry Tabasco hot sauce, but I find it has too much vinegar, so I carry Cholula with me. I prefer the taste. I pull it out at restaurants and put it on secretly, when no one is looking. I put it on most things I eat: pasta with marinara sauce, eggs, tacos, burgers, pizza, soup, everything. (I grew up in Texas.) I carry a smaller one; my husband and kids are not into it, so I don’t need to share. We just launched handbags, and I designed our Dallas bag to be small enough for only your phone and wallet — but it has just enough room for me to slide my hot sauce in there, too. Phone, wallet, hot sauce: That’s really all I need, ever.

These are the best — I tell everybody to get them. They look like little oval Band-Aids, and you put them on like a Band-Aid behind the pierced hole. Then when you put your post in, it stays taut and doesn’t droop down. As you get older, your holes become more like slits, but with these, you can still wear heavy earrings without the whole drooping bit. When I tell you they work, I mean it. I wear them with all post earrings. I want to put them on my website to help out all the ladies who buy my earrings. It’s in the works.

Some people love to cook because it’s a creative outlet, but I feel like I’m being creative all day long, so cooking is not my thing. I really don’t like following recipes, I like to just mix in my own things. I love to make chili because I can mix stuff in a pot and it just kind of comes out. It doesn’t take much and I can throw in more cumin or whatever I’m feeling at the moment to change it. Baking is not that at all. However, my kids love cookies, and they love when I make them cookies. They think it’s more fun and special to have the ones I make. So I make them. But as much as I hate baking, I hate cleaning more. These silicone mats are awesome for that reason: They save your pans because you just put them on top. You don’t have to spray stuff on them or worry about anything sticking to them. You can also reuse them, so you don’t have to waste foil or wax paper.

My hair is so thin — that’s actually why I started to make headbands — and this makes me feel like I have more volume. It gives me added texture; my hair doesn’t look quite so sparse or flat after using it. Both of my sisters have tremendous hair, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I really want that. This shampoo gets me a little bit closer. I got it pretty recently — I found out about it through word of mouth, because I’m always looking for a way to get more volume. My search for voluminous hair has been years in the making. I also started using mousse from the same brand, which I like a lot too. I hadn’t used mousse since the early ’90s, when I was 12 years old and had a perm.

You get suckered at Sephora when you’re waiting in line to check out. I always end up buying more products, like this lip balm. But I really love it. It gives some color but it feels like chapstick. I don’t wear lipstick that often, I’m more of the type who loves a glowy face of good skin, liquid eyeliner, mascara, and a little bit of color on the lips. I’ve definitely noticed a difference since I started using this; my lips aren’t so dry. But the only thing I learned the hard way about this product is if you leave it out in the sun — I took it to the beach — it will melt because it’s in a metal container. So don’t take it in the sun.

I think my husband saw this on Shark Tank and bought it immediately. We now have them for the office and the house. They’re awesome because the cleaning products in plastic bottles that you buy over and over again create so much waste. The kit includes reusable spray bottles; they’re thicker, so they feel nicer and last a long time. And it has little tablets; you just drop them in and add water. It’s really easy and also more cost-effective and sustainable. The cleaning products themselves are really good, too. They do exactly what I need them to do.

My dermatologist usually says that these things that promise the world to you have no concrete proof behind them. But she did tell me that ingesting collagen actually could work, that there have been studies that show it could improve elasticity. So I thought, “Okay, let’s try it.” I’ve been using this for the past year or two. I think that I’ve noticed a difference from when I started taking it. I’ve tried different collagen things — pills, powders, and this and that. The powder is really easy. I might take it more often because of that, but I don’t do it every day. I’m not totally consistent with taking it. My personality is very disorganized. Well, not disorganized, but I’m a creative person, so I do what works for me and what I’m feeling in the moment. Rituals are definitely not my thing.

I really love menswear pajamas, but I don’t like to sleep in just a T-shirt and boxers. I like silk because it’s soft, it’s comfortable, it’s feminine, and it’s elevated. You see the menswear inspiration in these, but they’re still very girly. I own a few pairs and I just bought another on Cyber Monday — the hot-pink ones, which I plan to rock with a matching hot-pink coat, shoes, and bag. I even have a fuchsia headband with crystals ready to go for that outfit. I know these are very expensive, but they’re really worth it. They’re so luxe and I feel good wearing them. And I wear them in the daytime, too. It’s my airplane travel look. I love a matching set. I think if you love what you’re wearing, you feel better — it’s super important. That’s kind of my motto for day and night.

As I get older, I think it’s important to find products that I like and work for me. I don’t have a big skin-care routine; I need about two minutes to do the whole thing. I brush my teeth, put on this serum, and put on lotion before going to bed. The serum is a really light layer; I don’t feel weighed down, but still feel like it’s working. I wake up feeling refreshed. My moisturizer kind of varies from month to month, but this serum has stayed consistent. I’ve been using it for the past couple of years.

When I started my company, I had two kids in the first two years — they’re 17 months apart. I had no time to do anything, but needed to look polished. One day, I threw on my daughter’s Crewcuts headband with a big bow on top and thought, “Hmm, I really want something for me that’s elevated and comfortable.” I think my headbands are just that: incredibly chic, but so comfortable you can wear them on an overnight flight. This one is brand-new. I love the kelly-green color because it’s bright and unexpected. People worry that the fun ones won’t match as much, but I can always find a bright headband to match my outfits, and I’m not usually wearing black. I wear a different headband every day. I travel with a bunch. It’s funny because when I do go somewhere — even just out in New York City — I always see people wearing my headbands. It’s truly amazing to me. We get people DMing us all the time asking for suggestions. Actually, Brie Larson just DMed us very casually, saying, “I just cut my hair, what headband do you recommend?” I was like, “Hi Brie! I think you would love the petite black headband with pearls. And P.S. I’m a big fan.” She was so cool. And I think it was definitely her, not like, an assistant. She bought it, too.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Accessories Designer Lele Sadoughi Can’t Live Without