Designing the Future With Candace Marie
The Nopo Ambassador and founder of Black In Corporate opens the doors of her recently redecorated NYC pad
Young, smart, and inspirational are just three of the words that come to mind when speaking to The Nopo’s latest Ambassador Candace Marie. Born in Oklahoma and with her gaze firmly set on the fast-spinning fashion world of NYC, social media and brand guru Candace has been spending the last twelve years crafting a brilliant career that saw her walk the corridors of high-power fashion brands and digital platforms alike, before venturing out on her own to create her boutique social media agency servicing a range of clients in the beauty, fashion, luxury and lifestyle spaces.
We caught up with Candace in her recently redecorated NYC pad, and the little we could see in the background of the video call was enough to make us want to live there ourselves. “It’s funny,” Candace laughs, “Ever since I redecorated my apartment, my friends seem to want to visit a lot more and stay indefinitely once they’re here!”
A lover of all things design and beauty, but very much on the move constantly because of her job, Candace’s life was completely turned around in 2020 when the world came to a halt. Coming from a decade of intense work, traveling, and spending little time at home, she was suddenly confronted with being secluded in a space that felt somewhat impersonal. “I didn’t want to just spend money on rent and bills in NYC when I was hardly ever there, and the fact that I was forced at home staring at the same four walls gave me a real push to do something about it.”
Whilst taste isn’t a problem for Candace, she went at the task of redecorating with no previous experience of interior design and soon found it to be a steeper learning curve than expected. From learning how to balance the composition of a kitchen table to staring at mood boards with slightly different shades of colors, to curating in detail every item and corner of every space, the process took a lot out of her and is still ongoing. Candace’s main aim with redecorating was to create spaces that would make her feel motivated, focused, inspired, creative, and nurtured.
“The objects we choose for our homes are there 24/7, even more so than clothes. I’m constantly staring at them and I really need them to be a unique mix of beauty and functionality. The Nopo was perfect for that because each item in the collection is absolutely one-of-a-kind, it’s not cookie-cutter pieces. Every time I receive a piece I purchased, just by holding it in my hands I can tell it’s been made with love.”
A lot of the time she approached a space by elimination, trying out things, moving furniture around, sleeping on it, and then changing it all back again in the morning. “In some ways, I apply that thinking to my career as well. I think it’s very important to try different things to be able to narrow it down to what really works for you.”
Ever the planner, Candace made sure she had a safety net if her dreams of the fashion industry didn’t work out. She got herself a degree in Finance and hit the fashion editorial space just as the world of social media was starting to blossom. “In my job, I’d be writing articles, then Facebook captions, then Tweets and I became very interested in how the words we shared on social media drove people back to the brand, so I decided to focus solely on that and moved over to Refinery29, who was one of the first exclusively digital platforms out there.”
Subsequent moves to Barney’s first and Prada later cemented Candace’s love for storytelling, social media strategy, and crafting brand identities while connecting to people and communities. But one that seemed nowhere to be found in the corporate space was the Black community. Over the years, Candace started experiencing a sense of loneliness whilst being in a corporate space where hardly anyone looked like her and decided to do something about it.
“I founded Black In Corporate because I knew there had to be other people of color in corporate spaces that, like me, felt isolated and lost. I wanted to create a place, digital at first and now offline too, where black people could feel safe, heard, and taken care of.”
In the short space of just over a year, Black In Corporate has become a go-to resource for people of color trying to navigate their way behind corporate walls, in a system which not only was not built with Black people in mind, but also systematically sets them up against much bigger challenges than their white counterparts. What started as a host of online resources has moved into real life when Candace and her team launched a partnership with Kering, offering mentorships across luxury brands and departments.
Having had different mentors at different points in her career, Candace knows the importance of a supportive network around you, especially as a young entrepreneur. “I am lucky that my family have been my biggest supporters from the beginning, making me feel like I could achieve anything I set my mind to. My dad used to tell me that my gift was never giving up and being persistent in my dreams. Now with Black In Corporate, I want to create that same sense of support and safety.”
When she set off on her own, Candace’s excellent work spoke for itself. After she completed her first project she thought it was probably a one-time chance and it wouldn’t last, but clients kept coming and 2021 was just a continuous build-up. This year she’s learning to say no to projects so that she can focus on Black In Corporate and herself more.
“As much as I am definitely working more now that I run my own brand, I think friends, family, and self-care still come first. I try to get my sleep, go to therapy, exercise, eat well… Our own sense of self-worth and self-love is absolutely irreplaceable, it has to be there to provide the foundation to anything you do, from romantic relationships to work.”
Candace has put together a stunning collection of her favorites from The Nopo. Shop today to bring some of her lovely energy and excellent taste to your home.