Faces of entrepreneurship: Candace Marie Stewart, Black in Corporate

Candace Marie Stewart is the Founder of Candace Marie, a social media agency specializing in uplifting minority voices in luxury, celebrity and lifestyle, Adjunct Professor at Parsons School of Design and Founder of Black In Corporate , a resource for black people seeking relief, support and guidance behind corporate walls. During his 10+ years of navigating the corporate arena and not only noting the lack of black colleagues, but also the systematic racism that was ingrained in the guidelines, policies and practices that drove individuals white people to success and black people to failure, Candace decided she wanted to help black people who find themselves without a mentor at work. In November 2020, she created a virtual program that pairs black professionals with seasoned executives and executives. Learn more about Candace Marie in her Faces of Entrepreneurship profile below.

What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Candice Marie: For me, being an entrepreneur is betting on yourself. Be ready to risk everything and have self-confidence.

How did your business come about?
CM: As a social media consultant, my “a-ha” moment was when I realized I was turning down more money than I was making with my old business. Even then, I didn’t immediately jump in and out on my own, but it did get me started planning my outing.

How has your business changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
CM: I have been very blessed. My industry has grown during this time. Social media was one of the main means of communication used and still in use during the pandemic.

What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
CM: My darkest moment was going out to do this during a pandemic. It was very scary to quit my job during this time. But it was also my proudest moment. I come back to Erin Hanson’s quote: “What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, how about you fly?

How is your business changing the landscape?
CM: Social media continues to change the landscape on a daily basis. What I’m proud of and of the company is that we continue to strive for diversity and inclusion on every platform.

What would you like to know when you started? Is there something you would do differently?
CM: Not only would I be fine, but I would soar. While I might have wished I had quit my corporate job sooner, I try to take every move as a lesson.

What board / credo do you live on as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
CM: Stay true to myself. My advice has been approached by many companies, but if it doesn’t match my personal beliefs or just something I don’t want to do, I decline it. Not all money is good money. I prefer to have peace of mind.

Where do you find inspiration in the face of challenges?
CM: Friends. I have a strong group of friends who I consider family. We all give and receive advice from each other.

What does “success” look like to you? What do you think will help you achieve this?
CM: Joy. Rest. Peace.

Has personal or professional “success” changed for you since the COVID-19 pandemic?
CM: Yes. Personal and professional “success” has increased.

How does it feel to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you give your fellow entrepreneurs on building and leading teams?
CM: Being my own boss is amazing and always difficult. My advice to other entrepreneurs is that “you can’t do it all yourself”. Investing in building a team will help you generate more income and stay sane.

Many entrepreneurs continue to hone their daily routines to support their work and a greater vision; Would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that underpins your work each day? How has this changed in recent months?
CM: I like to start early in the morning. On good days, I start working at 4 a.m. I start early because there is something about the peace and quiet of the morning that helps me get more work done. I also like to be ahead and schedule emails. It relieves me of the pressure.

What motivates you during this time?
CM: I have an inner motivation that keeps me going. Even more so when you start a business, it is very personal. I want to see this baby grow up and I will do my best to make sure.

What is a quote or a few words of wisdom to help you get through tough days?
CM: For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to make you prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Have you experienced mentoring in your career? Do you think it was easily accessible for you?
CM: Yes, I have experienced mentoring in my career. Mentoring came in many different ways, but it was not something that was easily accessible. I had to actively pursue him and probably a lot harder than my white colleagues.

Who are the people who have mentored or influenced you in your life or your career? How has their influence changed the trajectory of your entrepreneurial journey?
CM: I can’t identify a single person, but there was a plethora of individuals who helped me get to where I am today and many of them are still in my life. I honestly believe they have helped change who I am and who I am becoming.

Do you have someone you would like to name to be featured in our Faces of Entrepreneurship series? Please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]

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