We sat down with Nele Köstler, the sun-loving co-founder of RADICE who recently walked down the aisle this September 2018. This was a perfect opportunity to ask her how she balances her wanderlust spirit, and her role in this growing retail brand. Young, spirited, and curious to discover what life has to offer, Nele unveils her day-to-day routines, as well as her secrets to sleep.
What was your childhood about? Growing up? Was there anything in it that led you to create RADICE?
As a kid, I had severe problems to fall asleep. I was a very active child and going to bed or having to lay still was horrible for me. Almost every night, I turned for hours until I was finally tired enough. My mum tried everything, from reading several bedtime stories, singing lullaby songs, bringing me hot milk with honey to sitting next to my bed and holding my eyelids closed with her own hands until she believed I finally fell asleep - which I haven’t.
This personal experience made it very clear for me how important it is to be able to fall asleep. Nothing is more draining and shattering than not being able to fall asleep. Your head tells you to sleep, but your body & mind are just not able to relax yet. You lose important hours of rest and recovery, and you feel the symptoms the next day. You are less energized, your mood is suffering and your productivity as well of course. Eventually, I found out what helps me to fall asleep. And I felt incredibly relieved. I want to pass this knowledge on to you since I believe that sleep is as important than nutrition, fitness or mindfulness. I want to help you to find out what will help you to sleep better and to fall asleep easier. That's why I founded RADICE sleep. A ubiquitous content & commerce platform solely dedicated to sleep.
How did you use your experience and knowledge in starting your own brand?
I have always had a creative and an analytical passion. And because I did not want to choose one over the other I decided to pursue both in my life. I studied Fashion and Design Management to foster my love for fashion and creative working. However, focusing only on the brief beauty in life seemed not sufficient to me. So I dived into philosophy and economics which I studied in Munich and New York City. I majored in both subjects and profited from this combination ever since. Being a philosopher lead me to found RADICE since it made it obvious for me how important your state of mind, the quality of your thoughts and the determination of your consciousness are for your personal well-being. And I mean, the well-being of your body and mind since both are inseparably interlinked.
What made you realize, ‘I wanted to start my own company’? And why a platform around sleep and those beautiful silk pajamas?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. From early on, I had a mum and dad who owned their own companies. I always admired their freedom and self-determination. I guess that's why I always wanted to have my own company one day. During my time in one of the fastest growing e-commerce startups in Europe, I discovered my passion for digital entrepreneurship. I learned a lot about building a startup from scratch, which gave me enough confidence to found my own company later on. I knew I wanted to develop a strong retail brand by focusing on a highly curated offering and evolve my idea around a 100% customer focused approach. Since sleep is one of the most important topics in our lives and we still neglect it on a constant scale, I knew I wanted to change. Since I had a desperate need for easy-to-apply measures on how to fall asleep faster, I wanted to create a company that is able to help people with the same problems, only on a bigger scale. It would mean the world to me if I can make an impact with RADICE and help people to sleep better.
Here’s an interesting scenario. If you were in a TED Talk, how would you talk about RADICE?
I would try to stress the importance of sleep for mankind. Somehow, in the current trends, it became sexy not to sleep. It is widely accepted that nutrition and fitness are essential if you want to raise your productivity level during the day. But sleep - the most effective measure of the three - is still neglected, if not at all accepted as a leverage. Lack of sleep is one of the worst health issues. A 2017 RAND Study found that lack of sleep can result in reduced productivity as well as more work absences, industrial and road accidents, health care expenses and medical errors. The United States loses more than 411$ billion per year because of its constant sleep deprivation. This is roughly 2,3% of the overall GDP of the USA. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 million American adults are chronically sleep deprived, meaning, they sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours a night. Fatigue contributes to more than a million car accidents each year. And even small adjustments can be problematic. On the first Monday after daylight saving time change in the U.S., it was reported that there was a 24% increase in heart attacks compared with other Mondays. This shows how important enough sleep is for our society. With RADICE, we are hoping to be able to create more awareness for sleep and a mindful handling of our body and mind, and its intrinsic need for sleep.
Were there any sacrifices you had to make in order to keep up with your task as an entrepreneur? Struggles? How did you overcome them?
Sure, you give away stability and security in a way. On the other hand, you win self-determination and freedom. Starting your own company from scratch pushes you blindfolded into the unknown. This bears opportunities but also risks. Your private life struggles because you are head over heels into your newly founded company. It is even harder to balance work and private life. I had to overcome this by learning to focus on business and private life purely on given hours of the day. I had to learn that my business has its time, but my private time also needs relevant room within the week. Social life - my friends and family - is a very important measure for me to regain energy, the energy I need to reinvest into my company again.
What is your goal with RADICE? How do you see the brand ten years from now?
I want RADICE to be the number one platform around sleep. With RADICE I want to change the way people think about sleep today and establish a mindset of sleep as one of the most important measures for the health, well-being and productivity of a society.
Please tell us about the RADICE woman. Who are your muses? Is there any celebrity / influencer whom you consider as muse?
Mostly, I am inspired by nature, a walk in the mountains, a field of flowers, the color of the Bavarian woods, the Italian coastline. My muse is mostly the flora: beautiful gardens, flowers throughout the year from different places around the globe. As you might be able to see, my collections are mostly inspired by flora and fauna. Probably because nature is my happy place, the place I turn to when I need to recharge my battery, recalibrate my mindset. It helps me to find inner peace and focus on the important things in my life. There is not one single person I am inspired by. I really do look up to my mum. She is a very strong person and showed me early on how to be a strong woman. It inspired me how she fought for her family and her own carrier at the same time and managed to balance both throughout her life.
Because RADICE is all about wonderful sleep, could you share us your own sleeping routine to catch up on those Zzzs? How many times a week do you manage to get a perfect snooze?
I try to go to bed before 10.30 pm. I am a person who needs at least 8 hours of sleep and ideally 2-3 before midnight. To be able to fall asleep after a stressful day I established a strict bedtime routine. I learned that having a routine is a crucial part of being able to fall asleep quickly because your bio-rhythm is then adjusting and your inner clock ready to sleep at the respective time. So I try to go to bed at the same time every day. Before a laydown, I make myself a cup of tea, something calming thus mostly a herbal tea. I drink it in my bedroom in the complete dark and try to calm my mind, let go of all unwanted thoughts and appreciate the silence around me and within me. Then I go to bed without looking at my phone one more time.
Any words of wisdom for women who are planning to start a business? How about tips on catching up sleep?
If you want to found your own company, you should not only have a great idea and maximum passion for what you are about to do, but also the right people and infrastructure around you. The best ideas never come to life because the team behind it fails. So make sure you have a rockstar team with you. Check your idea thoroughly and be your own worst critic.