"We are all uniquely beautiful with purpose...the goal is to live life by design, not by default."
Charissa always had a fascination with fashion and anything related to creative expression. But she had no idea that when she exchanged her corporate gig for another executive position, Stay at Home Mom, that her roots in fashion illustration, love affair with pretty papers and packaging, and experience in marketing and brand development would all collide to produce an unexpected opportunity.
When Charissa couldn't find ethnic baby shower invitations that represented her style, she decided to create her own which led to making invitations and announcements for neighbors, family and friends...before she knew it, she was designing custom invitations, flyers, greeting cards and party favors for referrals and huge corporate events. Thirsty for images that looked like them and sentiments that spoke in their voices, women began to spread the word about Charissa’s fresh new designs that featured sassy sentiments and fashionable illustrations that most notably included women of color, relatable characters and curvy fashionistas resulting in a thriving home business that gave her the best of both worlds (ability to stay at home with 2 babies and the experience of being a working mom) fueled by coffee and hustle...but definitely not by sleep.
A move from her college town of Hampton, Virginia back home to Los Angeles meant a dramatically higher cost of living and it was back to the corporate world for Charissa where she continued gaining valuable experience working for a fortune 100 company along with trendsetting brands in beauty and fashion. But she never stopped creating and the orders and design requests never stopped coming.
After a second company merger was on the horizon and all of the uncertainty and change that comes along with that process hit home, Charissa convinced her then co-worker (and now bestie) to use a week of vacation time to accompany her to New York where she debuted her first official line of greeting cards and folded notes at the National Stationery Show in 2011. And just like that her company Stay Lifted was born.
Although Charissa's signature illustrations served as a hallmark for Stay Lifted, once the company hit the national stage it quickly expanded from a side-gig to a full time business that included a dynamic team of creatives and forward-thinking innovators in the branding and business development space. Affectionately dubbed as the "mini major company you know well but never heard of ", Stay Lifted became a premier designer and manufacturer of multicultural stationery and gift products in the wholesale and private label markets...establishing premier licensing partnerships, providing product lines to top brands in the industry such as Papyrus and Fine Stationery, and creating the artwork for dozens more.
get to know charissa.
more about me...empowering women, celebrating diversity and community service are my passions. illustrating and brand storytelling are a part of my DNA. i'm a dog person. i find inspiration in art, kindness, vintage photographs, fashion magazines and travel. i also LOVE music...it's always on. you'll find me singing and dancing saying "that's my jam" like an old lady...(although not the best dancer). i collect vinyl records and handwritten notes. breakfast is perfect any time of day. i like to explore, learn new things. a little bit of a political news junkie. meditation & weekend getaways are my go-tos. empathy rules! currently focused on activism, fostering connections through creativity and shared experiences. soooooo grateful to everyone who continues to support me, my fam, and our team. stay LIFTED.
Year 2020 has been transformative. Pre-Covid 19, Stay Lifted products were sold exclusively wholesale and only available through their retail, licensing and private label partners. However, the corona virus has affected the world in a way that many of us could not have imagined and unfortunately, many of those companies (large and small) have either changed businesses or closed their doors temporarily or forever.
As one of the few Black Women Illustrators and even fewer Black Women Owned manufacturers in the stationery & gift industry, Charissa was determined to weather the Covid-19 storm by creating new ways to offer her company's product lines and design expertise beginning with the launch of her first signature direct-to-consumer brand, Beyoutifully Black which features her name. This exciting venture is now underway and Charissa is thrilled to engage directly with consumers and to continue creating...and the rest as they say, is still unwritten.