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ONE ON ONE WITH CANDICE SAFDIEH

By: Ellen Geller Kamaras



“During grade school, I was always ripping apart my clothes and putting them back together.  My parents allowed me to be creative and dress how I wanted, provided I was modest.”

Please meet Candice Safdieh, the founder of Snoga Athletics.  Candice developed the innovative, fashionable, and modest concept of leggings with an attached skirt.

Before we dive into Candice’s career, let’s return to her school years, and accompany Candice on her journey to being a wife, mother, fashion designer, innovator, and entrepreneur.

Candice, born to Jodi and Richard Shweky, is the oldest of four children. Richard is a women’s clothing manufacturer, based in Manhattan.  While Jodi was raising her family in Oakhurst she worked locally at her parents’ floor covering business, which served the community for over 40 years.

“Although my mom worked out of the house, it didn’t feel like full-time.  Both my mother and grandmother, Bunny Weinstein, a”h, were ALWAYS there for us when we were growing up.”

School Years

Candice attended Hillel Yeshiva and Ilan High School, both in Ocean Township, NJ.  She so enjoyed these esteemed yeshivot but she gives extra credit to Ilan for changing her life forever. 

“Ilan was a small high school with a unique and warm feeling. My teachers were like family, and gave me that additional boost of confidence. They were working moms and were incredible role models who inspired me to become more observant. I took on more mitzvot voluntarily; they weren’t forced on me.  There was no judgment, and I never would have attained that spiritual connection without their example.”

Candice’s closest friends today are the women that she met at Hillel and Ilan.

Candice and I connected easily, and on many levels.  I found her to be open, self-aware, spiritual, non-judgmental, modest, positive, energetic, communicative, and wise beyond her years.  The words Candice used to describe herself were aligned with my impressions: spiritual, funny, reserved but not shy, and loves to laugh.

Candice expressed her gratitude for living in the most charitable community: “The women are so giving and diverse; each person has her own spiritual level.”   Candice’s father is very involved in Sephardic Bikur Holim, as was his father, Jake Shweky, a”h, before him.

Candice’s Creative Spark

Candice’s creativity and passion for fashion became evident at a young age.  She loved pulling apart her clothes and re-fashioning them.  Candice is thankful that her parents supported her artistic and imaginative flair.  As a tween, she went to Manhattan in the summer with her Dad and took classes at Parsons School of Design.

After graduating Ilan, Candice enrolled at FIT for courses in sewing and fashion design.  Candice is especially sensitive to women’s needs and felt equipped to work in the fashion industry.  “I learned so much at my Dad’s business!  I assisted the fashion designers, approved color swatches, communicated with other manufacturers and suppliers, and so much more.”  Candice continued as a designer assistant for close to four years before starting her family.

The Snoga is Born

Candice and her friends were so spiritually elevated by their Ilan teachers that they made the decision to stop wearing pants after high school.  Wearing only skirts posed several challenges: “So many questions popped up. What do I wear to parties?  What do I put on to run on the boardwalk in the summer? How can I be fashionable yet dress with tzniut?”   Candice’s short-term solution?  She took her trendy Seven jeans to a tailor and converted them into a skirt.  That solved her immediate dilemma, but what about others in the community?  She saw women on the street and in the gym dressed in leggings and skirt combos that were often mismatched and unattractive.  Joyful Activewear was born in 2007 when Candice recognized the need for fashionable, well-made activewear that also met the needs of women who dressed modestly.

Candice conferred with a technical designer and said, “Let’s do a mesh trimmed skirt with attached leggings.”  She drew a design, looked for quality fabric, and had a local factory produce the first 200 pieces.  Candice sold these Snogas to one retail store and from house to house. The first pieces quickly sold out, but rather than maintain production, Candice chose to focus on raising her family for the next several years.

A Solid Business Plan and a Catchy Brand Name

Six years later, in 2015, Candice was ready to return to her drawing board to continue to make her vision of designing attractive, modest active wear a reality.  Candice formulated her business plan in a thoughtful, deliberate, and strategic manner.  First, she recognized that she could not build her business single-handedly, and she partnered up with her mom, Jodi.  Jodi handles all of Snoga’s marketing.   Jodi met with several business consultants who advised her to start small, be patient, really know your customers, and pick yourself up if you make a mistake and learn from it.

I’m sure you are wondering how Candice came up with the catchy name Snoga!  “We were sitting around at the Shabbat table when my father-in-law said, ‘Snoga, Tzniut Yoga!’ And that’s how Snoga was born.  Her signature product, the skirted legging, is referred to as a Snoga! 

Three years ago Candice’s husband Bobby joined her full-time, and his contribution is immense, taking the business to the next level.   “Bobby loved my idea for a skirted legging. It’s a great advantage to a working mother to have your husband as your business partner. I am responsible for design and product development, Bobby heads up production and the day-to-day operations. He taught himself website management, as well as all the technical knowledge needed to build an Amazon presence.  My wonderful mom also learned about marketing on her own and brings her positive energy and ingenuity to it.  We are a fabulous team!”

Snoga’s Appeal Reaches beyond Our Community

Candice’s dream for Snoga was not limited to observant Jewish women.  Snoga Activewear has attracted like-minded women from diverse cultures and backgrounds.  Having grown up in a fairly sheltered community, Candice thrives on connecting with women from diverse backgrounds and religions. Candice is especially sensitive to women’s needs.

What excites her about Snoga?   “I love seeing a design on paper come to life, thinking about designs for varied body types, hearing the stories of women from different communities and cultures, and working with my awesome team!”

Snoga sells its products wholesale in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  Its main focus is its online business. Snoga’s philosophy is to grow the brand by providing high quality, stylish products at reasonable prices.  Management makes sure to know their customers and obtain feedback. “99.9% of the time we can repair a problem that arises!” Candice asserts.

Candice’s secret to success?  Working as a team, being organized, communicating as much as you can, and staying laser focused on your goals and responsibilities.

Priorities and Challenges

Candice is very clear about her priorities and her work-life balance. “My work is not who I want to be. Family comes first. I don’t need to be a hero. I can’t do everything and I can’t be everything to everyone.   What I do take on I take on well, and with pride.”

Her greatest challenge is being present, and allocating her time between her children’s needs and activities, Snoga, and Shabbat preparations.  Candice strives to set herself up for success.  For example, she prepared her mishloach manot packages eight weeks in advance!  She recognizes that her kids will only be young once, and she wants to enjoy them.

Most importantly, Candice tries to stay positive, and avoids beating herself up.  She encourages moms to breathe deeply and to understand that if it doesn’t happen today, it will happen tomorrow.    She credits her mom for modeling a chilled-out attitude.

Passions and Hobbies

Candice does not have time for hobbies, but knows what brings her joy.  She loves her house, and loves to cook and entertain for Shabbat and holidays.   “We have an open-door policy. I love when people are eating in my house.”

Her passions are her family and creating Snoga designs for her inspiring customer base.  “I still have old fashioned values, and I love what I do at Snoga. That’s the source for my energy.”

What’s Next?

Snoga is currently expanding its little girls’ product line, and ideas are always in process to grow the brand.

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be goal-oriented, think large but create small goals to achieve, one at a time.  Work hard. There is no immediate gratification.  Be organized, make lists and schedules, and don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake.

“No one knows what they are physically able to do until they do it!  I couldn’t have done it without my husband and mom,” Candice concludes.

You can connect with Candice at info@snogaathletics.com.  Check out Candice’s amazing designs and athletic wear for women and girls on https://snogaathletics.com/.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.   Ellen works part-time as an entitlement specialist at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).