Retailer Spotlight: Natalia Castillo and Escapada Living

Today, we are chatting with the owners of one of our favorite Candy Shop Vintage retailers Escapada whose bright colors and patterns already have us dreaming of a tropical vacation even though it is only the end of November. You can find some of our Candy Shop Collection pieces as well as our Charleston Rice Beads in their Escapada Signature Store in Mt. Pleasant, SC. We asked the owner and founder Natalia Castillo about Inc. Magazine’s second fastest growing company in South Carolina and the travels that inspire her prints and patterns.
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Natalia Castillo, CEO and owner of Escapada Living at home

1) I know you like to travel a lot to find inspiration for your colorful prints. What are you top three favorite travel spots? What is next on the list?

Yes, I love to travel! My favorite destinations are Brazil, Bali, and the French Riviera. Brazil is such a unique, vibrant country – the culture and lifestyle are full of energy, and my favorite cities there are Rio and Buzios. Bali’s natural beauty is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. From the beach to the rainforest, everything is bright, colorful, and tropical. Finally, the French Riviera is where I was first inspired to create the Escapada Living brand, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. With its beautiful coastline and chic style, its effortless elegance is hard to beat. “Escapada” means “escape” in Spanish, so it’s no surprise that those beautiful destinations have served as the inspiration for the brand!For my next trip, I’m heading to Peru with my niece – specifically Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. I have some family in Lima, and it’s a wonderful up-and-coming city that’s growing really quickly. With its vibrant colors and rich culture, Cusco is another incredible source of inspiration. Many of the people there still wear traditional Peruvian garb, which is full of amazing colors, textures, and details. I visited Machu Picchu years ago, and I have a feeling this time it will be completely different. Back then, everything was totally unregulated – you could wander around anywhere, and it was totally free to visit. It will definitely be interesting to see it again now, and I’m so excited to share such a special place with my niece.

 2) Did you always envision going into brick and mortar retail or is it something that happened organically?

It was always my plan to have a brick and mortar location that worked as an extension of the Escapada Living brand. My career actually began as a buyer for Macy’s department stores, so I’ve always been passionate about brick and mortar, and I had experience with retail in that format. I love having our own store, and it’s truly a place where the Escapada Living brand comes to life. It’s incredible to have the opportunity to connect with customers, hear their feedback, and see them interact with the brand. It makes my day when I see a happy customer get really excited about their new purchase!

 3) What are the other lines you carry outside of your own Escapada designs?

Our Signature Store is full of brands that complement Escapada Living and hang well with our line. We carry clothing lines like Tori Richard, Julie Brown, Just Madras, Gretchen Scott, THML, and Barbara Gerwit. For jewelry and accessories, we’re proud to sell several local brands, including Candy Shop Vintage! Our customers love the Charleston Rice Beads collection, and we also carry pieces from Hart Studio, The Tiny Tassel, Sangria, and more. Our store has completely different inventory than our website, so it’s been really fun to tailor its selection to fit our local customer.

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The Escapada Signature Store

 4) What is your most popular print?

We initially introduced our Jungle print for the summer 2017 line, and it became an instant favorite. It’s a fun, abstract palm print with a playful, hand-painted feel and lots of movement. We’ve created a few versions of it in different colorways, and will feature it in our upcoming resort 2018 collection as well. That collection will be available starting in December – just in time for a winter getaway!

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Our Charleston Rice Beads paired with a tropical Escapada ensemble

 5) Have you ever thought about venturing beyond apparel design into other products? What is next for Escapada (maybe for Spring 2018)?

I’d love to create an Escapada Living home collection with pillows, blankets/ throws, placemats, napkins, etc. Customers always tell us that our brand makes them smile every time they see it, and I think a home line would be a natural next step – extending that happiness beyond the closet and throughout the rest of the home.

For the immediate future, we’re thrilled to debut our new plus size collection for resort/spring 2018. This line, called Escapada Living Curve, features our best-selling styles and prints in sizes 0X-3X (numeric sizes 14-24). It’s been available to our wholesale retailers for a little while, but this is the first time that it will be sold on our website and in our store. Those new sizing options are truly an instance of “ask and you shall receive.” Customers kept telling us they were looking for more sizes in our clothing, and we couldn’t be happier that we’re able to fill that need now.

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An Escapada model in a summery Escapada dress wearing our Summer White Charleston Rice Beads wrapped as a bracelet.

 

A Gift That Gives Back

I am excited to share that we are bringing back our popular Kelly Green Charleston Rice Beads for a limited time this season. $20 from the sale of each Charleston Rice Bead Necklace in Kelly Green and $10 from the sale of each Charleston Rice Bead Bracelet in Kelly Green will be donated to the new MUSC Shawn Jenkin’s Children’s Hospital Campaign in Charleston, SC, thew new state of the art facility being built in Downtown Charleston. You can also visit their website and donate directly there and learn more about their mission and building project. Any one who has children in Charleston or has had the unfortunate experience of having to visit the MUSC Children’s Hospital, long or short term, knows what an incredible place it already is. But this new building and its facilities will continue to elevate the level of services they are able to provide to children around the country. We will be promoting this campaign in partnership with I Heart Radio and Y105 Charleston.

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Each necklace and bracelet comes in one of our Charleston Rice Bead bags with an insert card printed with a lovely illustration by local artist The Town Serif with a description of the partnership on the bag. This makes a great gift for any Charleston lover who also wants to contribute to the community. They will be available until Christmas or until we run out of inventory!

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Totality, Midnight Rice Beads and Charleston Eclipse Photos

It was impossible not to get swept up in the hype of the solar eclipse in Charleston since we were directly in its path. As the weekend ended and Monday approached the city had sort of a nervous energy about it. We had a solar eclipse sale. I made eclipse cookies. And I wondered if it would indeed be as magical as everyone said.

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We watched the eclipse from Sullivan’s Island – undoubtedly one of the most picturesque viewing points in the area. Our whole group had (the correct) glasses thanks to our host and Daphne was so worried she would go blind she barely took them off her face.

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When “totality” occurred I did take off my glasses for a moment and snapped this shot. It was just to incredible. The whole sky and beach was eerily dark and still. The church bells at a nearby church were ringing which added to the surreal feeling of darkness descending in the middle of the day and a storm was rolling in so off in the distance there was thunder and lighting. The change in light was slow and steady and felt more like a dark sunset than being plunged into total darkness and when the sun did reappear there was a feeling of elation. It really was an incredible thing to witness! And the clouds parted for just enough time to make it possible.

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The public schools in Charleston were actually closed today – I would say it was a win for Daphne spending a day at the beach instead of in a classroom.

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And here are a couple other photos taken in Charleston that I just loved…

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Finally in honor of our solar eclipse passing we have brought back our Charleston Rice Beads in Midnight Black for the season, just a little bit early.

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Join Me at The Champagne Society

This month on Friday, August 11th I am excited to be on a panel in Charleston for a new, monthly Mom’s night out, the first edition of The Champagne Society. The evening, hosted  will be an honest conversation between my friend and life coach Gervase Kolmos and two of my favorite fellow Charleston moms and business owners – Jessica Morse of Bare Beauty and Andrea Serrano (aka The Charleston Shop Curator).  All three of these ladies are extremely loving Moms and creative entrepreneurs and we are looking forward to a fun and informative discussion about making it all work (and maybe even sometimes not!) and the lessons we’ve learned.  More information can be found on the Facebook Event Page and tickets can be directly purchased here. Hope to see you there!

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Me & my little human, Daphne.

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Jessica of Bare Beauty with her sweet daughter.

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Andrea, Charleston Shop Curator with her adorable boys.

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Today’s The Day

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Today’s the day! Join me and the other Cannonborough/Elliotborough shop owners in Downtown Charleston for our annual sidewalk sale. Starting at the opening bell (10 AM for us) we will be offering discounts on discontinued Candy Shop Vintage/Charleston Rice Bead colors and styles and our popular $5 vintage table is making a return this year as well. Get there early for the best picks and if you aren’t local, feel free to check out our sample sale online.

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Save The Date Saturday, June 17th

Save the date for our next Sidewalk Sale and sample sale at Candy Shop Vintage. Saturday, June 17th we will be having a neighborhood wide sale at Candy Shop Vintage, Mac & Murphy, the new Cannonborough Collective, Gregory Blake Sams Events, Open Door Shop, Indigo & Cotton, Sugar bakeshop and J. Stark. This event was a huge success last year and offered deals from all of our shops you will not find any other time of year. Plus, the roving Sugar bakeshop popsicle cart will be making stops at all of our locations. At Candy Shop Vintage we will be having a sample sale and like last year will offer a $5, $10 and $20 table of goods. So save the date for neighborhood fun and sweet deals!

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A Mad Fantasy Tea Party

This past Monday we had a spring tea party to launch our new Fantasy Garden Collection, a vintage inspired capsule collection and collaboration with New York based jewelry company Ciner. I don’t know if it is the recent release of Beauty & The Beast, spring in general, or the fanciful nature of this new collection but I have had a tea party craving for awhile now. Talented Charleston-based illustrator Daniel Velasco did our invites and we purchased teacups that doubled as party favors for all the guests and turned Candy Shop Vintage on Cannon Street into a tea room for the afternoon.

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Thanks to Ooh events, we were able to squeeze in seating for 18 people down the length of the store. We served Charleston grown tea from The Charleston Tea Plantation in three flavors – Charleston Breakfast, Peach and Earl Grey. Frampton’s Flowers provided some beautiful fresh ranunculus for us in shades of pale pink.

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Out tiered tea towers were brimming with homemade goodies from local bakeries and caterers – Hamby’s, Sugar bakeshop and scones from Wildflour:

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And one of the best details were the beautiful, hand painted unicorn macaroons from Mercantile & Mash:

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The centerpiece of our new collection, The Unicorn Fantasy Necklace:

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Our floral selfie wall was also a lot of fun:

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As were the unicorn horn party hats from Meri Meri party:

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I only slept about two hours the night before but still had a blast:

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Thanks to all who came and contributed to a magical afternoon in Charleston!

Some Bunny To Love

This weekend is Easter and this cake has been a long standing tradition in my house – both growing up and since I became an actual adult to make a coconut bunny cake. It was the first dessert I brought to the first Easter brunch we were invited to in Charleston. Even in the South amongst the stiff competition of easter puddings and the fruit trifles, this cake became a major topic of conversation. Something about it makes me and everyone who sees it just… happy. My cousins used to spend every Easter at our house and after tearing through our Easter baskets and several pounds of candy, this was the sugar high we looked forward to after Easter brunch just as we were coming down from our Peeps. I think the recipe was torn from some early 80s magazine and though I now have it memorized, I remember the way it was stapled to an index card in my Mom’s recipe box, We were fiercely loyal to the bunny cake – not so much for its flavor (although it is pretty good) but for its look, its texture and its comforting consistency of presentation year after year. The acid green coconut “grass,” the jelly bean eyes, the chocolate chip trim… My Mom would store it in what she referred to as the “cold closet” after it was prepared and the cream cheese frosting had a great chill to it when you finally dug in to it. It was even good as leftovers a couple days later with a cold glass of milk. It is remarkably easy to make… and of course, fun.

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Also, proof that I am not lying when I say I have been making this forever, this is me at age 7 or 8:

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What you need (for the cake):

  • A box of chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • vegetable oil
  • two 9″ round baking pans
  • two bags of sweetened coconut divided into three bowls
  • jelly beans
  • Twizzlers pull and peel
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips

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After baking two 9″ chocolate cakes (and banging them loose from the pan – Daphne’s favorite part) keep one fully intact for the “head,” then, cut the second cake in three pieces, the “bowtie” that is the middle part of the circle and the two “ears” that make up the negative space once you cut out the bowtie.

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All four pieces should then be carefully transferred onto a separate tray or platter. If it is not done perfectly, it is not a big deal because it all gets covered in icing.

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What you need (for the icing):

  • stick of butter
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 box of confectioners sugar
  • vanilla extract

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We always made it with cream cheese frosting (ingredients listed above, basic recipe can be found here). It seems to go best with the flavor of the coconut and chocolate once completed. The entire head, ears and bowtie should be covered in frosting. Then, take the white coconut first and cover all the frosting in a layer of white coconut. Once a layer of white coconut has been added, pink coconut should be used to fill in the ears and bowtie. (This should be made in advance in a separate bowl using red food coloring). Once sprinkled inside the ears and bowtie, use the chocolate chips (evenly spaced) to outline the pink areas:

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The most fun part is the last step… sprinkling the “grass” – the dyed green coconut – around the giant bunny head:

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And our finished bunny!

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Good enough to eat… Happy Easter!

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The New Fantasy Garden Collection

I am so excited to finally announce our collaboration with 125 year old jewelry company CINER and the Spring collection we have designed together, The Fantasy Garden.

Because CINER has been around for so long (over a century!) I became used to seeing their name and mark on one-of-a-kind vintage pieces I collected, like these fabulous giraffe earrings. The quality of their pieces is always unparalleled. Through a friend visiting Charleston, I came to find out that CINER was still manufacturing and producing their beautiful line out of their New York City showroom and factory. So, I flew up from Charleston, SC for a meeting with CINER V.P. Kris Ciulla and owner Pat Ciner to learn more. Needless to say, we all had a lot in common and it was absolutely magical to see their showroom and production facility where so many of my favorite vintage pieces had been born. We decided to come together to produce our own capsule collection with me pulling designs from their archives and refashioning them into a modern, whimsical collection with a candy colored color palate. And so our collaborative collection, The Fantasy Garden was born:

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The Fantasy Garden Collection is available exclusively through our website, our store and cinerny.com.

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On my two visits up there I say down with Pat and Kris and curated this collection of pieces which is a combination of Southern, botanical themes, one of their classic Ciner bees and an element of fantasy – the unicorn (based on a vintage brooch they once produced):

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Ciner has remained in the same family for all 125 their business as been operating. Pat Ciner, left, the third generation of the Ciner family, remains at the helm of the business which is celebrating its 125th year in 2017. It was such a pleasure working with Pat and her team:

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Their showroom is filled with beautiful pieces, new and old – a virtual treasure trove of costume jewelry complete with vintage advertisements dating back to the 40’s and 50’s.

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Behind their showroom is a full manufacturing facility with jewelry artisans who paint enamel, cast, and set stones by hand.

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Below, a member of the Ciner team dedicated to polishing pieces during production works on a design.

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We are thrilled with how the collection turned out! You can see it and shop it here. The wonderful combination of southern botanical influences and elements of fanciful creatures. All behind-the-scenes photography by Lydia Hudgens.