"Sei dein eigener größter Cheerleader": Treffen mit Candice von otràvie
“Be your biggest cheerleader”: interview with Candice from otràvie
Candice is the founder of otràvie, a brand of curated vintage clothing and home objects. She recently moved from the United States, and she tells us about discovering her second life and rebirth in Switzerland and the risks she took in launching her own business.
She shares with us the importance of human relationships and of authenticity in business and brand experience.
Discover the story of Candice, a creative and authentic woman who invites us to take our time and believe in ourselves.
Can you tell us about otràvie?
otràvie is a brand of curated vintage clothing, accessories and home objects that I launched a little bit more than a year ago, in March 2022. My philosophy is about seeing things with new eyes, second chances, self-renewal, and rebirth.
I collect every piece of vintage and secondhand myself, following a specific colour palette and feeling. I like timeless pieces, which follow the style and fashion of the moment. My goal with otràvie is to give a second chance to things which are often overlooked and in doing so create a new life.
I launched otràvie because I arrived at a moment in my life which presented a unique opportunity to reflect and decide how I want to live and work. It has always been important to me to live and work with purpose, to be conscious and mindful in how I live and how I consume and what kind of footprint I leave behind. In a way, I started life again when moving to Switzerland and I felt called to pursue my dream of otràvie in parallel with renewing myself and my life.
How did you come up with the name otràvie?
I was sitting in the train on my commute home from my former job when I found the name. otràvie is a combination of “otra”, meaning another in Spanish, and “vie” meaning life in French. “Another life” reflected exactly the idea I had for my project. The name suddenly came to me and I directly knew it was the one. I actually found the name before even having my business plan or anything conceptualised.
What was your background before launching otràvie?
I have a background in fashion and branding management.
I first studied art history in college. My idea was to be a curator of fashion collections in a museum, like in the MET for example. I did an internship at the Phoenix Art Museum with their fashion collection, and I loved it. Caring and maintaining historical artefacts of clothing and building a story around them was extremely compelling. However, at the time I felt this career path was very niche and limited and I decided to choose a safer route and changed my major to fashion merchandising.
In retrospect, I realise that with otràvie I am in a way a curator, but in a more functional way. It’s also a bit ironic but ultimately what I’ve now decided to do with my career is still very niche- I guess somehow we always come back to the places we started and we can’t deny ourselves what we truly want.
In my early twenties, I began my career with Fossil in brand management for watches and jewellery managing luxury brands in their portfolio group. I loved my job and my team, but after close to 10 years, I wanted to do something more meaningful and to create for myself. As I was climbing the hierarchy ladder in the corporate fashion world, I saw what was awaiting me: pressures and responsibilities tied to a system and way of working that felt unethical to me. I realised I didn’t want this path for myself.
After almost a decade in the watch and jewellery industry, my husband and I moved from the US to Switzerland in September 2020. This experience was like a rebirth for me. I took the time to thoughtfully decide what I wanted the life for myself and my family to look like and about my next professional steps.
There was a great realisation and awakening at this moment. I realised that this time I didn’t choose the safe way in working or in daily life. I decided to walk away from something that felt so safe for me for so many years. This is because I know in my heart and believe nothing is actually safe in life. The only thing that we can feel certain about is ourselves.
That’s when I decided to launch otràvie, I had it in my heart for some time, but now was the time.
Have you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up with an entrepreneurial family. One of my grandmothers owned a beauty salon, and the other one had many different businesses related to design and fashion. I guess it was always a part of me.
In my previous job, I always received feedback from my superiors that I have an entrepreneurial spirit. Back then, I was treating my job as if it was my own brand. It helped me to see that I could become an entrepreneur.
What do you like the most and the least in the entrepreneur life?
There are not many drawbacks for me, but one I didn’t anticipate is being on my own. I miss the dynamic of being part of a team.
But on the other hand, I can find the community that I’m missing through networking events, pop-ups, social media, etc. Community is how I compensate for my lack of a team dynamic.
I love the freedom I have with being an entrepreneur. It is up to me to decide how my days look like. I can take more ownership of my life in this way.
What was your biggest challenge with otràvie?
At the beginning, it all came easy and naturally. But last year, two significant individuals in my life passed away. During this time and in my grief, I lost confidence and I started to have doubts. My identity felt lost and I greatly struggled. Understandably, my energy and passion went to a low place during this time.
When you have your own business, you have to do the work. Nobody will do it for you, so if you do nothing, nothing will happen. And that’s what happened. It was very hard for me to accept it, but then I realised that actually it was meant to be like this. It wasn’t how I imagined the beginnings of my business at all but it gave me time to focus on my healing and discover myself, and accept my transformation.
When the new year arrived, I decided to set up some goals and I started to get back my energy. I discovered that when you put energy into something, you get it back. It’s very rewarding and it proved to me that it’s possible and that nothing from my identity or who I am was ever lost. In death, nothing is ever lost, it’s only change.
Success for me probably looks different to what success looks like for most. For me, success with otràvie means that I can work in a balanced way.
How does otràvie grow?
otràvie is growing gradually, step by step. I don’t want to rush things, but it feels like things are picking up recently. I put myself out there and I seek opportunities.
I also believe that networking makes a difference. I let people know about otràvie and create the space it needs. I find it really important to meet new people whether it is on social media or in real life.
Do you have some advice for somebody who would like to launch its own business?
You have to believe in your business even if nobody does. Be your biggest cheerleader. When you believe in yourself, it’s contagious. People will also start believing in you. You shouldn’t care about others' expectations for yourself or how to please them. Please your own expectations and do it for you. And don’t forget to stay authentic.
You should be business oriented, but you shouldn’t forget to make things with your heart. You have to know for which reasons you do it, and be fine with those reasons.
How do you acquire new customers?
Social media is my main tool, along with my website. I focus on posting organic content and have an authentic relationship with my community. Authenticity on social media is everything. When you do your own things, it turns into a connection with your audience.
I also have a newsletter where I share news and product information, but also my voice. I want to do more than just sell products, I want to connect with my audience on a deeper human level, beyond materialities. In my newsletter I recommend podcasts, share my philosophies and ways of viewing the world.
My other way to gain new customers is via markets and pop-ups. Meeting people in real life and giving them the opportunity to try on the clothes is very important to me.
Do you have some advice to succeed on Instagram?
You have to be very active, consistent, and above all authentic. It can feel overwhelming for your audience to see pushed products ads, that’s why you need to create content which people can connect with in a more real way.
Do you prefer selling online or offline?
Online, the creativity possibilities are much higher. I can showcase a product in many different ways.
But in real life I love meeting people and seeing them trying the pieces. I can exchange with them and tell them the story of the pieces.
What are your next projects?
I want to continue with this dynamic of one collection a month, and to go to markets and pop-ups regularly. I want to keep seeing things with new eyes, and make people see it as well.
My next big project is something shiny.. stay tuned! I would also love to have my own shop one day.
Do you have a book, podcast or magazine which inspires you?
Podcast: Goop by Gwyneth Paltrow. I always find something compelling to tune into here.
Book: The Creative Act by Rick Rubin, my husband bought for me for my birthday and I am loving it so far.
Magazine: Milk, a French published family focused design magazine.
Find out more about otràvie on otravie.com.
If you like the concept, don't hesitate to follow us on Instagram @musacevintage. Tell us in the comments which female entrepreneur you would like to discover in the next article.