When Cameron Saul and Oliver Wayman, founders of Bottletop, were looking for a face to front their new collaboration with Narciso Rodriguez, never in their “wildest dreams” did they imagine that they’d find someone with which they had so much in common as Candice Swanepoel. Working with the blue-eyed blonde-haired model, best known for her work with Victoria’s Secret, is “a match made in heaven,” explained the boys when we met the trio in a Harrods restaurant.
The Bottletop Foundation was launched in 2002 to raise funds and awareness for education projects based in Africa and South America, and was followed by the Bottletop Fashion Company a decade later – which creates handbags made from recycled bottletops and aluminium ring pulls
“I had been looking for a charity to work with for a little while, but there was nothing that really spoke to me – if I do something, I really want to be involved and feel passionate about it,” Swanepoel told us. “And my agent heard about Ollie and Cam, she told me about what they do and the fact that they’re based between Brazil and Africa, two places that I really care about. Then I met them, was inspired by their energy and their drive to make it work.”
The model fronts their latest trio of spring/summer 14 handbags, designed by Narciso Rodriguez – one of which was named in her honour. But, as Saul and Wayman soon discovered, Swanepoel isn’t your average spokesmodel.
“I like to see everything first hand – I don’t just want to do an event in New York and London, I want to go to South Africa and Brazil and really be a part of it. To see where and how the bags are made and how they are helping people,” she said. “Luckily they are letting me be quite involved!”
Earnest and compassionate, Swanepoel explained how a decade of working in the industry has taught her to be more selective about the jobs that she accepts and the people that she works with.
“For many years as a young girl I was just trying to make it for myself, earn money and have a great future. But now, I’ve earned money and I got to a point where I thought, ‘Do I really need to do this job, is it really going to change me or help me?’ So that’s why I was looking for something that would really feed me in a different way. I feel like a lot of celebrities feel a responsibility to do that – they feel like they have to – whereas I didn’t, it just organically became something that I needed in my life,” she explained. “Sometimes in my world you have to do things that are not really you and sell things that are not really you – but I don’t do anything that I’m not going to talk sincerely about. So it’s a real pleasure for me to do this.”
So how does she prevent herself from feeling overworked and underappreciated?
“It’s a business so people will try and get you to do everything that you possibly can – particularly when you’re younger, it’s much harder. But I take a lot of inspiration from travelling and different cultures and seeing real life, so that’s what I like to do – I go and travel somewhere and purposefully don’t stay in a nice hotel because that feels like work,” she said. “I try and do things that inspire me, and give me energy to go back to work and be a happy person. You need that to be able to work as much as we do. I took a month off for Christmas and New Year, and I know it sounds like a long time, but I come back better and stronger than ever and happy to work. You can see it in the eyes, your attitude – it’s a very personal job that we do. People are in your face all the time, and if you’re not right or you’re not happy, then it’s very difficult. So that’s how I continue! It’s good, now my projects are feeding my business as well.”
The Narciso Rodriguez for Bottletop collection is available to buy exclusively at Harrods in the UK.