Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

New fintech app gives power to consumers

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

It’s a situation all too familiar to many, especially in these times of record unemployment and economic uncertainty: You need to make purchases but can’t afford to.

For millions of Americans, coming up short has become a harsh reality. Credit cards have long been an option for increased spending power, but that’s changing with the success of alternate payment platforms like Sezzle.

A Minneapolis-based fintech company founded in 2016, Sezzle’s buy now, pay later model allows shoppers to split purchases, at more than 24,000 retail partners, into four interest-free payments over the course of six weeks.

There are no late payment (or other) penalties for the platform’s more than two million active users, though accounts are suspended until payments are made, limiting the risk of nonpayment and promoting financial wellness. Additionally, Sezzle takes responsibility for all risk and fraud, chargebacks and repayment.

“Sezzle is not conventional and doesn’t fit antiquated banking and credit models,” says General Counsel Candice Ciresi. “It’s a new way of managing money that’s smarter, faster, better and provides a more balanced approach towards finances.”

A new company for a new economy

Tech delivered in a big way in 2020, highlighted by the unprecedented use of Zoom, Google Workplace and other tools designed to connect remote employees, executive leadership and customers.

Companies like Sezzle play increasingly important roles in that surge by providing new economic options for those who need it most, she notes. Millennial and Gen Z consumers have been a focus of the company since the beginning and comprise more than 50 percent of Sezzle users.

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

“Our CEO Charlie Youakim and President Paul Paradis are on a mission to make life easier for young consumers who have big economic hurdles to face,” Ciresi says. “Sezzle provides the ability to make better, more informed financial decisions without interest or escalating debt.”

In alignment with their commitment to financial empowerment, Sezzle recently announced “Sezzle Up,” a feature that allows users to boost their credit score through positive repayment behavior—the first player in the BNPL space to offer credit building.

Sezzle is a publicly traded company in Australia, where the BNPL model has been rapidly adopted by consumers, Ciresi says. Business is thriving across the board as a result of this growing familiarity. Growth in the U.S. and Canada has been more measured but remains consistent.

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

For Ciresi and her team, some of 2020 has been spent kicking off the service in India, where demonetization efforts have fueled the growth of digital payments and online shopping—especially amid a pandemic that has ensured cash is no longer king.

“If this works, we have massive opportunity in India … . We think it’s well worth the opportunity,” CEO Youakim told Reuters in August.

Learn, empower, act

Ciresi has been plenty busy tackling three major initiatives since she joined the team last May: risk assessments, building employee connections and shifting the workplace paradigm.

Risk assessments determine what controls are in place, how robust they are and possible improvements. They also allow for clear visibility into corporate strengths and weaknesses. This insight not only prioritizes work but allows the company to prepare for potential threats. Rarely are lawyers happy with surprises, Ciresi says.

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

A company needs to know the employees, their experience and their capabilities. Ciresi insists that any employee can approach anyone in the legal department with a concern, an issue or corporate red tape that might interrupt a seamless business flow. Then, she and her team work to develop a compliant path to cut through complexity and redundancy.

With employees assisting in the solution, she has been able to identify risks faster, catch problems quicker and eliminate redundancy.

“A lawyer can crush a company by forcing changes to operations without input from the employees who are doing the work,” Ciresi says. “Employee empowerment reduces corporate risk while improving efficiency and morale.”

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

Working with her team, she also developed the infrastructure to shift from a traditional, full-time, in-office setting to a hybrid remote-working structure. While the coronavirus-induced remote scenario remains in play for the foreseeable future, a new model will be seen post-pandemic: Most employees will be able to choose to maintain their remote presence or work in the office.

Piggybacking on the office paradigm shift, Ciresi merged social and environmental concerns into business operations. The new model works to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and seeks out a more environmentally friendly work structure while maintaining fundamental culture.

B Corp, be good

Money matters, but the deeper mission at Sezzle is to stand up for social and environmental concerns.

To that end, Sezzle is a B Corporation (one of 3,500 in the world), working on its formal certification. B Corporations are businesses that measure success via social, sustainability and environmental performance standards. This not only applies to the company, but also to their supply chain and business partners according to their respective takes on the environment, diversity, inclusion and more.

“Many people believe you have to pick profit over people, but our mission is to break down the wall between this perceived dichotomy and highlight how they are intertwined,” Ciresi notes.

At the same time, Sezzle is playing the long game by working to empower not just customers, but merchants and communities as well. Winning at any cost isn’t on the table at company meetings.

“Often, lawyers are brought in to be reactive and defend against corporate threats. Here, I get forward-leaning, thought leadership-type questions,” she says. “How do we help the environment? What do younger people need to prosper? How do we help to save the world?”

Candice Ciresi – Sezzle

Ciresi, who earned her JD at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, finds additional ways to contribute. She serves on the campaign committee for Simpson Housing Services, a local homeless shelter; advises for the nonprofit Blacks United in Leading Technology; and—to blow off steam—plays hockey with the Warriors, a national team of disabled veterans. These are the missions she’s proud to be part of in life and at a company where she feels doing good is more than public relations.

“There’s something fulfilling about knowing that what you’re doing is affecting people positively, well beyond your own reach,” Ciresi adds. “Principles matter. People matter.”

Published on: January 18, 2021


categories: , ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.
I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.


Spring IV 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.