Meet Candace Reels, the Girl Behind Your Favorite Feminist Insta
Even if you don’t know Candace Reels by name, you definitely know her from her Insta account. At nearly 70,000 followers strong, @FemaleCollective is an online community for feminists everywhere. It first began as a collection of uplifting quotes and RBG memes, but quickly expanded into a full-fledged clothing line (she’s the one behind those “The Rise of the Woman = The Rise of the Nation” tees you’ve seen everywhere). Fresh off the Women’s March LA, where Candace served as social media manager, she filled us in on intersectional feminism, Insta fame, and staying empowered these next four years.
Take us back to the beginning! When did Female Collective come about, and what was the inspiration behind it?
I started it in October 2015. I had just turned 26, my work life and personal life were just going down the drain, and I really needed some positive motivation. With social media being a big part of our lives, I wanted to create a safe space where women were celebrated, uplifted, supported, and empowered—not just for myself, but for other women as well. So I created the Instagram account, which soon turned into a full-on clothing brand and online community. Us women deal with a lot of the same issues and we should be there for one another, because we are seriously stronger together and can conquer the world. #Girlpower forever!
Walk us through the process of creating one of your T-shirts.
My shirt designs are inspired by current life events and women that inspire me. For example, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-ding for Planned Parenthood” came about when House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the GOP was going to defund Planned Parenthood. I knew I wanted to create a shirt that not only showed people my stance on the issue, but also put my money where my mouth is and donate. Many of my other shirts are inspired by women I look up to, including Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Angela Davis, Grace Jones, Gloria Steinem, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Frida Kahlo (and the list goes on!). I design shirts that I want women to feel empowered in. I'm a very shy person and I've always spoken with my clothing, so I knew I wanted to create shirts that were loud and proud.
Why do you think a brand/community like Female Collective is *so* necessary right now?
All women, including Black, Asian, Muslim, Latin, trans, disabled, Native, Jewish, and intersex, need to stick together. We have to continue to uplift, support, celebrate, and empower one another. They're going to continue to try to bring us down, but we have to fight together as one and get things done. As my shirt says, "The Rise Of The Woman = The Rise Of The Nation." Female Collective was created with that mission; it’ll always be a safe space for women to share their views, speak up for themselves, and empower one another.
How can girls stay optimistic, even in light of the Trump presidency?
All I can say is that there are going to be good days and bad days ahead. It's going to be tough to stay optimistic all the time with this dude (I don't really like saying his name) in office, but as long as we stick together we will get through this. The Women's March showed we can come together. No matter what part of the world you're in, we have each others' backs and can create a real grassroots movement. I was one of the organizers for the Women's March LA and we were expecting 100,000. It ended up being 750,000 people. You are not in this fight alone; there are others who will stand with you, shoulder to shoulder.