Candace Reels didn’t create The Female Collective for us—but we’re so glad she did it anyway. TFC, an online community and philanthropic organization, aims to help women come together, tell their unique stories, and feel empowered to tackle the missions that matter most to them.
When Candace launched the collective, she didn’t intend for it to be public—she did it for herself as a way to motivate herself and promote self-love. The account grew, and so did Candace’s ambition; she soon launched a clothing line (think “feminist fight club” t-shirts) and pivoted the account to the large-scale community it is today.
We look up to Candace because she parlayed a personal project into a burgeoning space for the women who needed it most. Read more about what motivates her below.
Your company, Female Collective, was founded because you hated your job. Tell us more about how you used that lack of inspiration to build a brand.
I was at a really low point in my life and I needed something to motivate myself to the next step on my life journey. I didn’t know what that would be, but I knew that I needed to create something from my lack of inspiration. That’s when I decided to create an Instagram account where I would post inspiring and motivating content to help get my life together. It’s not always easy to create when you’re not feeling inspired, but it’s definitely what you need to do. It’s important to get how you feel out in your writing, art, or in whatever type of content you create. This release will help you move forward to where you need to go in life.
Who did you have in mind when you created Female Collective?
Honestly, Female Collective started off as my own self love, inspirational, and motivating account. I didn’t tell anyone about the account and didn’t use hashtags; it was literally just a personal account that I created to help me get to the next step in life. What ended up happening was people found it and starting sharing my content. I learned that yes, I started this account to help myself but there were so many other women who were going through the same thing I did and needed this just as much as me.
What has been your biggest opportunity or biggest challenge?
I would say that my biggest challenge has been myself. I tend to talk down on myself and compare myself to others. Which is the number one thing to NOT do when you have your own business or what you shouldn’t do as a human. I found the best way to overcome that is to go within and remember why you started in the first place. The journey is going to be hard, but you must celebrate the small victories and know that there is room for everyone to succeed and your time will come.
What keeps you up at night?
Our current political climate, specifically the GOP and all of the ridiculous things they are doing. Fortunately the Democrats won the House back and that has help me sleep a bit better.
Female Collective isn’t just a community—you also donate to various organizations. What causes has FC helped support in the past, and why do you see giving back as an important part of your business model?
I knew when I decided to create clothing for Female Collective that I wanted to give back to organizations that have been doing great work for years. I find it important to give back because that’s one of the many ways in helping to create the change that we want to see and helping those who are in need. By donating money to these organizations you are helping them stay in business and by helping them stay in business you are helping individuals who desperately need these orgs to live, grow, and learn. Some of the organizations that FC has supported are RAINN, Planned Parenthood, Black Girls Code, Global Fund For Women, Girl Rising, and Everytown.
Who inspires you? Who do you look up to in your industry?
My two biggest inspirations are my parents, they have helped me become the compassionate and passionate human that I am today. My other inspirations also include Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, and Shirley Chisholm. Those three women are ones that inspire the work that I do everyday. What they accomplished in life during an extremely hard time for a black woman helps get me through life challenges today. They were able to do so much in a time they weren’t allowed to. And because of them I have much more opportunity as a black woman to thrive in this society.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
Being able to give back to organizations that I love and receiving so many DM’s of women saying how thankful they are that Female Collective exist. They are so thankful for a safe space online were they feel celebrated, supported, uplifted, and empowered. I started Female Collective as my own self love/self care journey and I’m so grateful that it has become that for so many other women.
I started Female Collective as my own self love/self care journey and I’m so grateful that it has become that for so many other women.
What does activism mean to you?
Activism to me means taking a stand for something you believe in or something you’re against. Not just stating it, but taking actionable steps in creating the change you want to see. There are so many ways you can activate in your community, big or small. Marching, volunteering with or donating to organizations that support what you believe in, starting a movement on social media, having courageous conversations with your friends and family, and calling out people when they have done something wrong in your eyes. There are additional ways to go about it, these are just a few.
When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find new roads + switch gears to find success?
When I hit a bump or hurdle, I usually take a few steps back and recharge. Sometimes you exhaust yourself to no end and you feel uninspired. I usually talk to my mom, journal, meditate, and read one of my favorite self help books. When you have your own business you’re constantly judging your success to others, feeling lost, and confused. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to get yourself back on track and remember the goal that you set in your mind.
What are you most excited for in 2019?
IMPEACHMENT!! Kidding, not kidding. But the political side of me is excited about the future of the Democratic party. There were so many firsts that happen this year at midterms. This is the first time in American history that we have elected more than 100 women to the U.S House of Representatives and i’m so excited to see what they will do. On the career side I’m excited for the many opportunities that will be coming Female Collective’s way and I hope that more people will learn about what I’m doing and that it continues to be a safe space for ALL women. Last, but not least on a personal side i’m excited to continue my self love journey. The person I was when I started FC is far different from who I am now. I hope I continue to become more confident in who I am and know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind on.
Photography by Annie McElwain Photography
Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica