Candace Marie Stewart is founder of Candace Marie, a boutique social media agency specializing in uplifting minority voices in luxury, celebrity and lifestyle, an Adjunct Professor at Parsons School of Design, and founder of Black In Corporate, a resource for Black individuals looking for relief, support, and guidance behind corporate walls. During her 10+ years navigating the corporate realm and noting not only the lack of Black colleagues but the systematic racism that was embedded into the guidelines, policies and practices that propelled white individuals towards success and Black individuals towards failure, Candace decided she wanted to help Black people who find themselves without mentors at work. In November 2020, she created a virtual program pairing Black professionals with seasoned leaders and executives. Learn more about Candace Marie in her Faces of Entrepreneurship profile below.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Candice Marie: To me entrepreneurship means taking a bet on yourself. Being willing to risk it all and having faith in yourself.
How did your company come to be?
CM: As a social media consultant, my “a-ha” moment was when I realized I was turning down more money than what I was making with my old company. Even then I did not immediately jump and go out on my own, but it stirred the pot for me to start planning my exit.
How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
CM: I’ve been very blessed. My industry saw growth during this time. Social media was one of the main mediums that was and still is used to communicate during the pandemic.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
CM: My darkest moment was stepping out to do this during a pandemic. To leave my job during this time was very scary. But this was also my proudest moment. I go back to the Erin Hanson quote: “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?”
How is your company changing the landscape?
CM: Social media continues to change the landscape daily. What I pride myself and company in is that we continue to strive for diversity and inclusion on each platform.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
CM: That not only would I be ok, but I would soar. While I might have wished I quit my corporate job sooner, I try to think of every move as a lesson.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
CM: Stay true to myself. My consultancy has been approached by a lot of companies, but if it does not align with my personal beliefs or simply something that I don’t want to do, I turn it down. All money is not good money. I would rather have peace of mind.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
CM: Friends. I have a strong core group of friends who I see as family. We all give and get advice from each other.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
CM: Happiness. Rest. Peace.
Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
CM: Yes. Personal and professional “success” has increased.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
CM: Being my own boss is amazing and still challenging. The advice that I would give to other entrepreneurs is that “you can’t do it all by yourself.” Investing in starting a team will help you bring in more income as well as keep you sane.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? How has it changed in recent months?
CM: I like to start early in the mornings. On a good day I start work at 4am. I start early because there is something about the peace and calmness of the morning that helps me tackle more work. I also like to be ahead and schedule out emails. This takes the pressure off me.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
CM: I have an internal motivation that keeps me going. Even more so when you start a company it’s very personal. I want to see this baby grow and will put in the work to make sure it does.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
CM: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
Have you experienced mentorship in your career? Do you feel it was easily available to you?
CM: Yes, I’ve experienced mentorship in my career. Mentorship came through so many different avenues, but it was not something that was readily available. I had to actively pursue it and probably a lot harder than my white colleagues.
Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
CM: I can’t pinpoint just one person, but there was a plethora of individuals that helped me get to where I’m at today and a lot of them are still in my life. I honestly believe that they helped shift who I am and who I’m becoming.
Do you have someone you’d like to nominate to be profiled in our Faces of Entrepreneurship series? Please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.