The Entrepreneuress: Marisa Stewart
By Lindsey Leitner
From ballet dancer to marketing major to entrepreneuress, Marisa Stewart has hit her stride.
After dancing ballet for 14 years and being an Arabian dancer in the “Nutcracker” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Stewart knew she wanted to go to college and have the normal college experience. A pharmaceutical sales representative or a job in the entertainment business was her goal after college. She graduated with a Marketing degree from the University of Southern California. The opportunity to intern for A&M Records opened many doors for her; she was hired there after she graduated.
Stewart has had many jobs in her life before starting Star Candy Boutique in Los Angeles, including being a business banker and even a real estate agent for seven years. Nothing seemed right for her until one day when she got the idea for Star Candy Boutique, a place that defines style, affordable luxury, personality and class all in a pair of blinged out panties. Stewart loves being an entrepreneuress and could not imagine doing anything else.
What made you want to start your own business?
I used to do custom work and I would bling everything, like my nails. I would bling my nails before it was even trendy. I used to do custom logos. I did door knobs once. I just did tons of stuff. I knew a lot of managers at Bloomingdales and they were kind of like, you’re really talented why don’t you do something with it? We didn’t want to do t-shirts because it’s so common. So by accident one day, I had this design and I was downtown. So I was at the store where I would get the heat press done and I forgot the t-shirt I was going to put it on. They didn’t have any nice t-shirts so I was looking in my car and I had bought some underwear a couple days before. They were still in my car, brand new. I put the design on the underwear and a couple days later I was wearing them and my husband was like ‘What is that? That’s really cute.’
How did you incorporate rhinestoneing into your designs?
Oh, my nails. My manicurist used to do rhinestone designs on my nails. She taught me how to do it on my nails. I learned how to lay the stones and everything from her. So I started doing phones and it grew from there. It used to be you had to have the Bedazzler, so when the heat fix ones became available I was right on it. I was like why don’t I just put this permanently on my clothes so I used to bling out clothes. I’d bling out pockets of my jeans and t-shirts. But it all started, I guess with my nails.
Was your family supportive when you decided to start your own business?
I actually started it and didn’t tell any of them, just my husband. It was really kind of a surprise to everybody when I told them but I was pretty established by the time I told them. But when they found out, they were supportive. My mother was super happy and she was always proud. I used to do a lot of custom rhinestone work so she was always proud of all my custom work.
Why did you keep it a secret?
I didn’t think that they would be supportive from the beginning, to put all this money into it. I didn’t want to have any negative vibes while I was starting it. So we were really positive about it, me and my husband. So I just thought let’s see what happens with it and take it from there.
How did you come up with the name?
I had a logo made for another name. Then we found out when we were trademarking it, I couldn’t use the name because there were bra straps being made with that name. It was too similar of a category. So we had this great logo, the one that we have now, and it was for Rock Candy. But then my lawyer was like you can’t use it and I was heartbroken. It took us a couple of months, and we were looking at this cool star logo and I was just like why don’t we just call it Star Candy.
What was the most challenging part about starting your own business?
Finding the manufacturer is really the hardest part of the entire thing. Then once you have a product, you need to figure out how to market it. I was a marketing major but there’s all different aspects you know. The PR and all those different things. So it’s really overwhelming because I wear all the hats.
What’s your favorite part about being able to work for yourself?
Making my own hours as much as I can. I have crazy hours because I deal overseas, so a lot of the time I will be working overnight because that’s when they open. I’ll get phone calls at three or four in the morning and emails that I have to approve. I kind of have crazy hours but it’s nice not having to answer to anybody and to do my own thing.
Do you have any big plans for Star Candy Boutique?
We are looking to expand into camisoles to match the panties. We’re actually looking into carrying accessories, you know bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and we have a full bridal line.
What’s your favorite product that you sell?
My favorite pairs are the Wanted, because those are our original pairs. I mean that’s the one that started everything.