Candice Swanepoel has spent a good part of her career wearing bathing suits, so it’s only fitting that eventually she’d bank on her killer bod and start her own line. The 31-year-old supermodel became an instant entrepreneur when she launched Tropic of C, an ecologically responsible swimwear line that women can’t get enough of. Here, she tells THE DAILY all about this hit venture and what got her to stop and smell the roses.
How have you spent the past few months in quarantine?
I’ve been spending a lot of time in nature, outside with my boys. It’s been a blessing not having to travel like I normally do.
What did you learn about yourself?
I focused a lot on myself and my kids, and took a break from social media. I’ve been thinking about the things that are most important to me. And the things that aren’t necessary. The quarantine has been a time of rest and reflection.
What did you miss about working?
I miss traveling to new places, and I miss the teams of incredible people that I work with.
Your swimwear brand, Tropic of C, is a favorite at The Daily. How has it evolved over the years, and how do you describe it to new customers?
The brand keeps evolving, and it’s so rewarding to see that every day we reach more women in all corners of the world. We have a solid swimwear presence and have connected with customers via some of our best sellers, like the Mama Africa collection or the C Collection, while introducing new fashion styles and diversifying our offerings. For example, this season we collaborated with a female artisan group in Peru and made beautiful hand-knitted crochet tops. We also introduced our first collection of knit separates in stripes and organic cotton T-shirts that can be worn to the beach and beyond. Tropic of C is a brand for conscious consumers; I wanted our customer to wear the pieces because they love the look and feel but also what we stand for.
The brand is ecologically responsible, which is tough in the swimwear category. Tell us how you’re accomplishing this.
Since the beginning when I was creating branding, I really wanted to create a brand that was conscious of its impact on the planet and use new innovations to create products that continually aim to reduce the environmental impact of our production through ongoing sustainable fabric development and refining our manufacturing processes. We focused in two areas—our fabrics and our packaging. Most of our fabrics used upcycled or regenerated nylon. This means we bring very little virgin nylon, closing the loop by participating in a circular economy. Also our prints are done digitally, drastically reducing water usage and electricity but also waste. In the case of our packaging, we are proud our bags and mailer are made out of bioplastics that are biodegradable and compostable. Our main labels also use recycled polyester, and our hang tags are made from bamboo, while our envelopes use stone paper. We spent a lot of time on these details, and we do pay a premium, but we know our customer cares and it fulfills the promise we made on our mission as a brand and a team.
Where does your passion for the environment come from?
I grew up on a farm in South Africa, where I was always playing outside with my brother. Appreciation for nature is something that was instilled in me from a young age, and I continue to have a great passion and appreciation for the environment.
What have some of your best sellers been over the years?
Some of our best sellers are our most classic and simple silhouettes and our favorites from the beginning. The C Collection is very identifiable because we use extra thin cording, and our stitching all around is quite difficult to execute. We wanted to create these styles with minimal seams to be very delicate and feminine. South Pacific—in both black and in leopard—resonates with customers all over the world; it has a retro corset look that is flattering, making it an instant classic. Our Mama Africa print grew into a collection of numerous styles. This classic leopard print is quite iconic and continues to be a favorite. We’re growing it even further for Resort.
Where are you selling the line?
We sell via our own e-commerce, tropicofc.com, where we have the collection in full. We have partnered with an amazing set of multibrand retailers around the world—Selfridges in the U.K., Moda Operandi, My Theresa, and Luisa Via Roma as luxury online retailers, and Holt Renfrew in Canada as part of their sustainable Holt project presentation. We recently launched at Bandier and will be opening a pop-up at Fred Segal in Los Angeles for two months to give our customers a chance to shop the collection in person.
What’s your favorite part of working on the line?
Fittings are definitely my favorite part, and when all my creative input comes to life. We transform styles and create new ways of finishing, adding details, and making sure my ideas are executed. It also triggers my fantasies on how to shoot the styles, what location, and with who.
You also model your own designs. Is there anything different about modeling your own creations?
Yes, I’m not only the model but also the art director on our shoots, so I get to apply all I learned working with so many amazing photographers, stylists, and creatives. My work in front of the camera is only a piece. I’m very involved in the planning of the photo shoots and campaigns, creating mood boards, casting other models, editing the images, and how we present and launch the collections on our channels.
Any fun plans for this summer?
Depending on the situation, I hope that I am able to spend some time at the beach with my boys.
Quarantine was a time for self-improvement for a lot of people. What did you accomplish during the experience?I’ve had a couple of different stages during this quarantine. At first I was cooking like a maniac and impressed myself with my talents in the kitchen, then I started gardening and spending more time outside. Now I’m in an organizing period, going through my home and throwing out things I don’t need and clearing my space for new energy to flow. I’m all about minimalism and thinking about my goals for the future. I definitely needed a break from the fast pace of the world and have enjoyed having this moment to stop and smell the roses.