Candy Harris on Her New Venture and What She Learned at Stance
Well-known industry marketing executive Candy Harris has left Stance to launch her own venture.
SES reached out to Candy to find out more about the new company and about key lessons she learned during her seven years at Stance, where her most recent job was Chief Creative Officer.
What is your new venture?
Candy Harris: I’m launching a creative marketing brand incubator called Unlisted. It’s combining my love for brand building, storytelling and all things creative from product to campaign execution. While our headquarters will be the strategy hub, we will pull from our extended network of creatives and niche marketing experts to curate a unique team for each brand we partner with.
Unlike a traditional incubator, our roster won’t be limited to startups. While we will develop some brands from the ground up, we can also apply this same entrepreneurial thinking to incubate new categories or initiatives for Fortune 500 companies looking to tap into the cultural relevance that a startup mentality provides.
Can you remind us of how your job evolved at Stance?
Candy Harris: During my time at Stance I was fortunate to play various roles throughout our growth.
I initially came on board to launch the women’s division, ultimately leading the design, marketing and creative efforts as the department grew. Back when we started the women’s division of Stance, I remember checking out the fall issue of Vogue and only seeing one pair of socks in the whole 400 pages of editorial. It felt like we picked the most difficult category in the world to market to women.
Three years later we were partnered with Rihanna, and saw headlines materialize and watched the category as a whole take shape. We had made socks matter to fashion media and retail entities alike and it was a good sign that we were building some momentum.
As the business continued to grow, I went on to run all lifestyle categories and culminated with Chief Marketing and Creative Officer roles for the brand, overseeing an amazing team that launched over 100 collaborations ranging from the likes of Basquiat and Disney to global campaigns, store rollouts and product category extensions into intimates and T-shirts.
What kinds of brands are you most interested in working with at Unlisted? Is there a certain space you are targeting?
Candy Harris: We happen to be focused initially on markets I’m personally passionate about, including a startup travel brand that we will help incubate from scratch, to lifestyle brands that will span sport, beauty, fashion, health and wellness.
The diversity in opportunity is a part of the beauty of this next chapter for me. I’ve also reconnected and partnered with friend and mentor Steve Astephen and The Familie. His access to athletes, musicians, artists and influencers in combination with my network and experience building lifestyle brands has already created unique opportunities that have me really excited.
Why was now the right time for a change?
Candy Harris: The desire to take the leap and do something entrepreneurial really came from working at Stance. If I look back at my career, there is a common thread of start-ups and early stage business development that took me from one company to the next. I’ve been so fortunate to have great mentors in my life that keep fanning the flames of the excitement you get from building things from the ground up.
When it came to creating Unlisted, the opportunity really found me. I had initially planned to move on from Stance to start my own brand with a partner, and because timing is everything, Unlisted ultimately formed as a larger platform to see these projects, among others, come to life.
The opportunity has me feeling inspired to develop brands and initiatives that make a lasting impact and give back to a greater good. I am a big believer in brand authenticity and creating a narrative that goes beyond just the transaction. In this way Unlisted is going to be a perfect platform to combine creative marketing that is rooted in content and commerce – creating brands that have something to say and not just something to sell.
You had a huge job at Stance. Can you share come of the key lessons you learned during your tenure? Any favorite memories?
Candy Harris: There are too many favorite memories to count! I could honestly write a love letter a mile long to Stance and my work family that made it home for the past seven years.
I think above all else I would say the people have made the most enduring impression on me. Stance managed to attract really talented people in their respective fields and then fostered a very entrepreneurial mindset when it came to tackling problems or finding opportunities for growth.
We were never held to legacy processes, which meant we liked to pivot a lot. As a brand we learned some good lessons from constant change, and I think for Stance it allowed us to test a number of different theories for growth. I’m grateful for the experience Stance provided across so many niche markets and the network of talented creatives, designers, marketers and punk and poet ambassadors that I had the privilege to work with.
The most important takeaways I’ll bring with me to my next venture will be the importance of a healthy work culture, the power of collaborative thinking and the value of assembling a juxtaposition of diverse talent to bring forth a fresh perspective. These lessons laid the foundation of my next chapter and I can’t wait to get to work.
Editor’s note: The slide show contains examples of some of Candy’s projects at Stance