July 24, 2022
By Jemi Lassiter
Photo courtesy of Candice Denise
A self-proclaimed helper, Candice Denise had to pivot several times in her career to get it just right. Today, she helps women create and embrace sustainable self care through her firm CD Creative Loft.
I crossed paths with a previous version of Candice Denise 13 years ago. She was a meticulous event planner and I was a clueless bride to be. She was not supposed to be my wedding planner but, her business partner needed a favor, and Candice does not disappoint. For two weeks, Candice kept us on track and got my husband and I down the aisle.
This version of Candice is just as meticulous.
Just as focused.
Just as prepared but with a twist.
She is no longer in event planning for others. Instead, Candice is a multi-hyphenated professional who guides women into sustainable acts of self care and promotes the creation of harmony (not balance) between their personal and professional lives.
Her career path and business niche were based on two of her strongest characteristics: her creativity and her ability to pivot.
To see Candice online is one thing. Her vivacious and powerful personality bursts through the screen.
To speak to her, this version of her, is a whole new experience. She is demure and engaging, telling stories and sharing life lessons that resonate with what seems like only you but then again… she has been doing this coaching thing for a while. This get-your-life-right thing for a minute. This have-you-checked-on-you thing since 2016.
She sat down with Eve After Eden to discuss self care and ended up enlightening us on the gifts that keep giving.
Candice Denise is the founder of CD Creative Loft, a self-care coaching firm based in Maryland. Through her firm, she does what seems unthinkable to me: Candice acknowledges that there is no such thing as a successful balance between work and life; there’s only harmony.
“Balance was one of those things where I was like ‘F’ balance”, said Candice. “Balance for me equals fall and fall equals failure. The reality is I can’t have balance. There are going to be times where I’m going to ebb and flow. We’ve got to give ourselves some grace. I just want the things in my life to work well together. That’s the harmony of it.”
The 42-year-old entrepreneur came to this realization after three career pivots spanning more than a decade and one faithful night in 2016.
Candice began her career in the 9-to-5 roles so many college graduates are primed to take. She did her work. She went home. She did her work and then she went home. (You get it. Now, repeat that cycle for five years.) It was the life expected for her but, after so much time elapsed in the work world, the spark, the excitement or just the fulfillment of working, never came.
Photo courtesy of Candice Denise
After realizing her gift lies in helping others, Candice Denise has allowed it to shift her from a 9-to-5 to an entrepreneur. From event planning to brand photography and creative directing. And, now her gift has placed her before women seeking harmony in their lives.
“If I’m honest, if I’m all the way honest, I was working jobs. It didn’t feel like I was contributing to something greater. I’ve always felt like there was something inside of me that was just different. Something was like ‘You’re supposed to be doing something more’. It made me keep trying something else. If I’m going to be making money at least let me do it doing something that I love”, explained Candice.
With that, she launched into entrepreneurship as an event planner. (And, she was phenomenal if I do say so myself!) While at a networking event, Candice made her first connection with potential clients and her business was born!
She appeared in Essence magazine twice and had clients on the popular bridal television shows “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?” while running her own firm. The consistent clientele and occasional media coverage were encouraging but not life changing for her.
“Sometimes I think we need those winks from Our Creator, the Most High, to let us know [we’re] on the right path. I feel like that was a wink moment to just be like ‘I want you to know that voice inside of you that says there’s something greater you’re supposed to be doing. There’s bigger things. More’. This is one of those winks”, said Candice.
And, after 11 years as an event planner, Candice began to hear that voice again that pushed her to do something more. She walked brides down the aisle, curated corporate events and thrown one-of-a-kind private soirees that kept business booming but there was that urging again. Something more. Something greater. It caused the then-36-year-old event planner to question if she was using her gift of helping to its fullest potential.
“Sometimes we think we’re called to do maybe just one thing [but] your gifts literally never stop gifting. The talent in which you use the gift may change”, said Candice.
During her event planning days, Candice would do branding photo shoots to keep her business’ image fresh and palatable to new clients. As she wound down event planning activities, old clients and new connections began to ask about her photo shoots.
Who was the photographer?
Where was the location?
What’s the contact information for the stylist?
CD Enterprises was born from their questions and Candice’s willingness to pivot.
She successfully moved from event planning into creative directing and branding photo shoots because she loved to be in front of the camera. As an event planner, she developed a great rapport with photographers and venue managers. A creative eye and background in fashion marketing gave her intuition for fabulous flair a boost as well as a license to go big and be bold with colors, textures and styling.
“That’s when I said maybe it’s time to pass the baton to myself and pivot. Maybe this is the season we’re supposed to go in and help people this way. It was a natural progression”, said Candice.
“I don’t mean to make it seem so carefree because it came with its scariness. Every time we pivot, [there’s a] change in income. Change in clientele. Not sure what’s going to happen. I don’t know. Fortunately for me, I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve been single or without kids. It’s easier to pivot when it’s just me”, she explained.
Candice said the last sentence as if it was an insight for me and a confirmation for herself.
There is safety in independence. No one else is depending on you to see the day through. If a project falls apart, no one else’s livelihood is impacted but your own.
Add a partner to the mix and pivoting becomes far more precarious.
Add children and there are whole new levels of concern and risk to calculate… Types the mother of four who quit her job in the middle of a pandemic and started “Eve After Eden”. *Shakes head and returns to the boldness that is Candice.*
Though she wants to be married to the right man for her and would love to have children some day, she learned to release the judgement assigned to not having them yet. In that space, she gifted herself acceptance and gratitude for the life she gets to lead right now; a life of passion, of focus and of helping others in all the ways her gift transforms.
“Who I am and how I operate is not easy for everyone, you understand? It takes a special kind of person to realize and appreciate that. I’ve realized that”, said Candice.
Six years after launching CD Enterprises and two years into CD Creative Loft, Candice has removed yet another layer of her being for my benefit. As she does for her clients, she tells me the story of how she welcomed self-care into her life.
Self Aware Care
Photo courtesy of Candice Denise
The next pivot began in 2016 as Candice began to wind down her event planning business. She’d grown to dislike it and wanted to figure out why her passion for helping others was leaving her. Candice says she knew it was deep seated.
She went to New York for a New Year’s Eve solo vacation and as she waited for the ball to drop in Times Square, she had a moment of clarity that made her next year one full of self awareness, focus and peace.
“I’m waiting for someone else to make me happy, to be whatever this is for me. I’m putting myself in the hands of someone else when I really should be putting me in the hands of me. It was in that moment that the awareness happened. That’s the moment the trajectory started. That’s the moment that I started trying to figure out what does choosing me look like everyday”, said a relieved Candice.
Working around the clock to help others was wonderful and draining. She helped to change lives with every event. She pulled people and resources together for magical and memorable moments. Her work took a lot out of her and Candice rarely replenished.
“I was not nearly doing what I should have been doing for [myself] then, that I do now which is part of the reason I know we don’t do what we need to do for ourselves because I’ve been that person”, said Candice.
In that room, she made a commitment to herself that caused her next pivot. For as much as she helps others, she would care for herself and teach women to do the same.
This would be Candice’s newest pivot. In 2020, she renamed CD Enterprises to CD Creative Loft and reframed its creative direction.
Now, instead of doing branding photo shoots and creative directing, her firm would become that coveted safe space; the one that teaches women how to practice sustainable self care and build their personal image for themselves, not others.
“Self care is really simple to me. It’s about finding the small things everyday to do for yourself, to help take care of you. Small things. Not the big, grandiose things but the small things everyday. That’s as simple as it is for me.”