Bringing Your Best Self to Work: Q&A with Candace Reels of Female Collective
In 2016, at just 26 years of age, Candace Reels found herself searching for support and community as she navigated her way through an existential moment and recalibrated her life path.
Like any self-respecting millennial looking for meaning in their life, she turned to social media for self-love content and was shocked at the lack of positive female energy she found. So, as a tool for her own healing, she decided to start curating the content she was craving.
It began as daily reminders of strength and care for herself, but she found she was not alone in her desire for a safe space to explore her feminine spirit. Soon her empathic, graceful, and witty messages attracted the attention of people all over the world who resonated with the empowering content. As the power of the messages grew, so did her audience, and the Female Collective community was born.
Over the years, Female Collective has evolved into a consistent reminder to celebrate the struggles and successes of our individual journey. It is a community for those who reject the social constructs of the patriarchy and status quo by creating space for vulnerable conversations. These include traditionally taboo topics and culturally and politically charged issues such as body positivity, reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, climate change, immigration issues, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Through daily affirmations, community events, and social engagements, Reels reminds women everywhere that they matter, they are loved, and they are worthy. Her hope is to create positive energy and space for the development of new social constructs that can change the female narrative and give voice to women of all races, sexualities, ages, ability, and classes.
Reels’ platform has allowed her the opportunity to amplify her message as an integral organizer for the Women’s March in Los Angeles and a speaker at the Create & Cultivate Conference in Chicago. She has been recognized for her work on media platforms that include PopSugar, Teen Vogue, Essence, i-D Magazine, Who What Wear, GIRLBOSS, and Cup of Jo.
SoFi: How would you describe intersectional feminism, and why is it so important?
Candace Reels: Intersectional feminism is the meeting point where different forms of discrimination overlap with gender discrimination. It is the understanding that gender discrimination doesn’t always exist in a bubble. As a Black woman, I face inequality and discrimination because of my race and gender. However, some people experience inequality and discrimination due to other reasons; class, sexuality, disability, age, religious beliefs, etc can all play a role. Intersectionality is important because for us to create a society that respects everyone’s differences we first have to acknowledge the struggles those differences can present. From there we can build the society that we want by demanding the direct changes we all need for equality, which can lead us into a better world where we’re respected for what makes us each unique.
SoFi: What are a few actionable ways for women to help make a difference in the workplace?
Candace Reels: Speaking up for other women, not just the ones that look like you. I’ve always said, other women are not our competition, they are our collaborators, and there is enough room for all of us to shine!
SoFi: In what ways can you take initiative with new projects at work?
Candace Reels: Sending an email to your boss and letting them know that you have an amazing new idea for a project. With us spending more time at home and figuring out this new normal, is a great way to get super creative at your job. We can be so creative at these times because we have to. We have to figure out new ways to connect with our community, new ways to engage an audience, new ways to move forward, and the list goes on and on.
SoFi: What is your advice on starting your own business? How do you keep thriving?
Candace Reels: My advice on starting your own business is to create something that you’re passionate about. Don’t create a business just because you see a trend happening and you want to jump on it. Businesses that last and continue to thrive are the ones that were created from one’s own passion. Starting your own business is not easy, however, if you’re passionate about what you do it will make the daily challenges that come with building something from the ground up just that bit easier.
If you have a good idea that you’re passionate about, you’ll keep thriving; not only will you be building something that you know the world needs, you’ll be committed to making sure it’s something of quality as well. That kind of dedication will make sure that you continue to stay aware, learn, and grow with the times.
SoFi: What are some tips to engage and present yourself in a way that is authentic?
Candace Reels: Creating a community and engaging with your audience is all about being authentic to who you are. Yes, this community is not with you in your everyday life, but they can easily read if the person behind the brand is being true to themselves. People want to connect with real people and talk about real things. What makes us all special is that we are all different people who have experienced life differently and people learn and grow from you sharing that.
SoFi: Can you talk about the concepts of white privilege and white fragility? Also, how can allies take action on injustice beyond the workplace?
Candace Reels: White privilege is acknowledging the fact that your race allows you privileges that other races don’t experience. This doesn’t mean that you don’t experience discrimination and disadvantages in life, but that your discriminations and disadvantages are not at the level of a person of color. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your white privilege, what’s wrong is not doing anything with the privilege that you have to help others who are discriminated against.
White fragility is victimizing yourself when someone is giving you constructive criticism about things that others might feel are outright racist or microaggressions. Instead of taking that criticism and learning from your mistakes to become a better person, the person gets defensive and closes off from the conversation.
One of the simplest ways to take action when you see injustice happening is simply to speak up and take a stand right in that moment. From there you can continue to speak out when you see injustices happen, you can educate yourself, listen to constructive criticism, learn from your mistakes, do the necessary anti-racist research, and stay aware!
SoFi: What are you doing now to set yourself up for success in the future?
Candace Reels: I’m continually working on myself, so I can be the best possible me in the future, which will give me a stronger foundation for success. I’m taking this time at home to think about what I want my life to really look like. Pre-COVID, I was always on the go and working on the next project, and I didn’t have a ton of time to reflect on where I was going personally and professionally. So I am taking this time to do so, to really figure out what Female Collective is meant to be in this new normal and how can I continue to help educate others, help people celebrate who they are, and help them grow into the people they want to be.
Los Angeles-based Candace Reels is an intersectional feminist, self-love advocate, a fierce champion for female empowerment and founder of Female Collective, the online platform where women are celebrated, uplifted, supported, and empowered every day.
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