FROM RUNWAYS TO EMPIRES, CANDICE SWANEPOEL’S JOURNEY AS A SUPERMODEL TURNED ENTREPRENEUR EXTRAORDINAIRE IS PROOF THAT WITH PASSION AND DETERMINATION, DREAMS CAN TRULY BECOME REALITY.
In the dynamic world where fashion meets business acumen, few stories shine as brightly as that of Candice Swanepoel. From gracing the world’s most coveted runways to charting a remarkable trajectory as a savvy entrepreneur, Swanepoel’s evolution resonates as an inspiring testament to the power of unwavering passion and relentless determination. The story of Candice is one of an extraordinary journey where a supermodel dared to redefine success, transitioning seamlessly from the glamorous world of fashion to the challenging realm of entrepreneurship. Swanepoel’s remarkable voyage underscores the age-old adage that dreams are achievable through dedication, showcasing the embodiment of aspiration turned into remarkable reality.
Candice, you have a swimwear brand, correct?
Yes! We’re five years old now, it’s called Tropic of C! It’s a sustainable lifestyle brand, which I dreamt up about seven years ago. I was pregnant and taking a break from work and decided it was a great time to start a business. We’ve been going for five years, growing, and building our community, and it’s been such a joy to see and take on this new role in my life.
Tell me a little about the brand.
My background is in fashion. I’ve been modeling for about 20 years now. I was mostly known for Victoria’s Secret Swimwear. And so that to me was the most organic thing to start my business with. At that time, Victoria’s Secret had stopped doing swim. So, I thought “okay, now’s the time.” We’ve since expanded into other categories, and my dream is to continue doing that.
Have you always wanted to go into business?
Business wasn’t really a dream of mine. I think people in the fashion industry don’t know how political and business minded you must be to be successful. I’ve learned a lot from that experience. And Tropic of C was born just from my desire to have a creative outlet to share everything I’ve learned over the years, share my view on beauty, and cater to women like me that are doing so many different things. I’m a mother. I’m in fashion. I’m a businesswoman. That’s kind of the woman that I cater to. It’s that woman that just wants to be chic, on the go, and practical.
Why the name Tropic of C?
When I was going through branding, I didn’t want to directly connect it to my name because I want the brand to stand on its own and be its own entity. My vision of Tropic of C was that you envision yourself in this place that is kind of an eternal summer, that place that you dream of going on holiday. I’m a very curious person, so I love to travel to amazing places and discover new cultures. So, Tropic of C became more of a place than a brand in my mind.
Do you feel that you’re living the American dream now with your business and with your career? Is it everything you expected?
The American dream, I don’t love that term only because anyone can create their own dream wherever they are, but the United States has this entrepreneurial mind and allows people to really, no matter how crazy your dream is or how hard it might be, support it. I think there’s so many people from all over the world that come here; no matter what industry you’re in, it’s this melting pot of talent. I think that’s what enables the American dream to happen.
What has been your biggest hurdle in business that you’ve had to overcome?
I think the hurdle is just knowing your power and stepping into it and admitting when you don’t know.
So, what’s your superpower then?
I love to create emotion through my work. It’s not just about a pretty picture or about selling. That wasn’t my motivation to build a brand. The community and the fans that I’ve built throughout the years, they feel me in a different way because I like to create this emotion through imagery and tell a story and take them on a journey.
How involved are you on the day to day with Tropic of C?
I’m very involved and I think it’s important to be involved in all the aspects of your business. It’s important to know what’s happening. I love to evolve and learn, and that’s one of the driving forces as well for starting this business. Maybe I wasn’t an expert, but I could become one. I’ve been lucky enough to be pointed in the right direction in business, and for me, it’s so important to build an A team where people own their parts.
What advice would you give to young women and men wanting to get into business or fashion? What advice would you give them for them to reach their dreams?
I’d say that business is not for everyone. I would say believe in your idea relentlessly and in your mission and have a reason for your business. My reason to start my business was never driven by fame or making money, and I think people feel that. It’s the passion that they feel and how much I believe in what I’m doing and how happy it makes me to see my community enjoying the product. It’s a continuation of my legacy that I built for 20 years, when I was looking at product and how I was going to do it. I think about everything that I’ve sacrificed to be where I am now. I was never going to put out a product that I wasn’t proud of, that I didn’t know where it was coming from, how it was made, and the sustainability aspect was important to me. When we started, sustainability and swimwear didn’t coexist. Many other companies have since jumped on the sustainability bandwagon; it’s kind of now becoming the norm. I feel proud that we were one of the pioneers in that category.
Where do you see Tropic of C in the next three to five years?
I would love to see Tropic of C really establish itself in the lifestyle area, expand into more categories; motherhood, clean beauty, and continue growing our community and being able to reach these women that I get such beautiful reactions from. Just continually growing.
What is the legacy that you’d like to leave behind on this planet?
I want people to remember me as somebody that cared about humanity, about the planet. Someone that was always kind and that was always hard working. Hopefully I’ve influenced people to be better in whatever they’re doing. I’m not changing the world with my business, but I’m inspiring other businesses to be better. I’m inspiring people to be more conscious of what they’re buying. I’m inspiring my children to be hard workers, to go after their dreams. That’s my legacy.
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