ETHICAL FASHION: INTERVIEW WITH CANDICE COLLISON
Photo by: Samantha Jean Photography
Being surrounded by female entrepreneurs, I often hear the term "Wonder Woman" thrown around -and no, I'm not talking about the movie - I'm talking about real-life women who leave us guessing how they don't pass out from exhaustion or drink an entire bottle of wine by themselves at night. These women do it all - they have families and run their business all while managing to help support others along the way. I'm sure you all know at least one, and with that said, I'd like to add another to your roster - Candice Collison, founder and CEO of Mod & Ethico!
Not only is her story amazing, but I've worked closely with Candice since she started her fashionably responsible company almost a year ago. I've seen first-hand all the hard work she's put in and all the good she's been able to accomplish in such a short time. She's already made an impact on fashion bloggers, consumers and the city of Chicago and by the looks of it, she won't be stopping any time soon!
Keep reading to learn more about Candice as well as the vision of Mod & Ethico....
Honestly Unfiltered: How did Mod & Ethico get its start?
Candice Collison: I started M+E while still in business school at Kellogg. I knew I wanted to start my own business, and I was frustrated with the lack of fashionable socially and environmentally responsible brands – in one shopping destination. This became my inspiration.
HU: What was the most challenging part of starting the business?
CC: I was slowing myself down feeling as though I had to have the perfect business plan in place before launching. When I finally decided that I would launch with a minimum viable product, I gain agility and speed. This attitude has also allowed me to adapt my model and value proposition as time has passed.
HU: When creating Mod & Ethico, what did you and do you hope to accomplish with its business model in the fair trade industry?
CC: I hope to accomplish a few things: 1.) Awareness around issues in the fast-fashion industry; 2.) Educate my customers on the good and unique stories around the brands M+E carries. Ultimately success will mean that people think more about their consumption, and M+E is top-of-mind as a destination for conscious fashion.
HU: What class, life event, business advice etc, do you think most helped you prepare for the challenges of being an entrepreneur?
CC: One class that drove me to action as “Launching New Products and Services” at Kellogg. This course helped me think through “white space” opportunity, and provided me with a framework to focus on a problem area that meant a lot to me, and that is in a growing industry of slow-fashion and responsible consumption.
HU: Being an entrepreneur brings a new, more difficult, situation to deal to with one almost daily. What would you say has been the biggest “surprise” or unexpected scenario, you’ve come across so far?
CC: It’s tough to pick just one; there are highs and lows of business performance, and the sheer energy that an entrepreneur must dedicate to a nascent business. Keeping up the energy and pace in the face of challenge is tough every day.
HU: You work full time in addition to running your own company, can you tell us what a typical day looks like for you?
CC: Typical day: work 9-5PM at Facebook. 5-7PM I typically spend at the physical M+E location. I rarely cook these days, so I more than likely grab something from Whole Foods, and head home to check eCom orders, optimize ads, and respond to emails from partners and vendors. My work day typically ends around 10PM when I head to bed. I value fitness, but I have not been as regimented since launching M+E, but I try to get a work out in at least a few times a week.
HU: Have you ever had a day where you felt like giving up your business and if so, how did it come about and how did you overcome that fear?
CC: Every day I question whether “this is going to work,” but I try to not focus on the short term challenges as representative of the longer term outcome. I try to celebrate the little wins, and test and iterate on what’s working. At the end of the day, this is hard work, but it’s worth it.
HU: What piece of advice would you give to other women looking to start their own company?
CC: Never underestimate the value of networking, and seeking help from others. You will need guidance from mentors (those who have started businesses), from subject matter experts, and even competitors. This rich network will help guide your way.
HU: Where do you see M&E in the next 5 years?
CC: I envision M+E as a leader in conscious everyday fashion in Chicago, and online. I also would like to be closer to the overall Fashion Revolution movement, and to impact change beyond Chicago and the US. Finally, I would love for us to have our own slow fashion line. The concept is still to be determined, but I have some ideas.
MORE WITH CANDICE COLLISON: Favorite food? LOVE thai. Pad Prik King is a favorite dish of mine – that sounds pretty good right now. Favorite travel destination? I lived in San Francisco for 4.5 years before moving to Chicago, I love going back and exploring my old home. Guilty pleasure?Currently, it’s watching The Bachelor, which I really never do. And probably snoozing way too long. Most used app on your phone? Instagram. Favorite piece in your closet? I am loving everything Suki + Solaine. I am expecting my first baby next month, so I am super into their flowy silhouettes, and joggers. If you could go anywhere in the world that you haven’t been before, where would you go? I am dying to visit Greece. Top three favorite Chicago designers? (clothes or accessories) Suki + Solaine, Cities in Dust, and Coat Check Chicago. Aside from Mod & Ethico, favorite Chicago boutique to shop at? Penelope’s on Division is adorable. I love their assortment.