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BIZ CRUSH: The Neon Tea Party

BIZ crush

Marisa is a social media super star. We met via Instagram when her colorful photos, love for tassels and adventures through NYC caught my eye. She's currently planning a wedding that would make your Pinterest page jealous (there are llamas involved- that's all I'm going to say) & she's always got something crafty up her sleeve (just past her kick ass arm party AKA bracelet stack).

After collaborating on a few AMAZE-BALLS DIYs, I had to find out a bit more. I think you'll enjoy what she had to say as much as I did.

What kind of kid were you growing up?

I’ve pretty much been the same person my whole life: enthusiastic, outgoing and creative. I was pretty loud and hyper into my teens, but I finally learned to dial it back and channel my “passion” into my work.

I knew since eight years old that I wanted to work in fashion and even “designed” a line of girls’ clothes called Designs by Marisa at that age. My dad and I put together a whole marketing plan for it. I meant business even back then!

In high school, I spearheaded lots of themed parties for my friends and me: color schemed New Year’s parties, an Asian themed dinner party, even a rock’n’roll Sweet 16 for myself, which my best friend’s family was nice enough to let me throw at their house, live band and all!

So yeah, I’m pretty much the same color loving, hair-brained scheming chick I’ve always been.

How did that affect your path towards blogging?

I began writing about fashion in high school after I realized that editorial was my calling. I had a column in my high school newspaper and began interning in fashion at age 17. My dream back then was to intern at Teen Vogue, which I did the summer after my freshman year of college.

I started The Neon Tea Party 1.0 during my sophomore year when I realized I could make a website in minutes and share my musings on my own branded platform. I wrote on that site on and off for years, utilizing it for different purposes based on what was going on in my life and career at the moment: chronicling my time abroad in Paris, using the site a platform for my styling and editorial work, developing writing samples for job prospects, etc.

I stopped blogging when I was hired to be a full time editorial content manager at a jewelry company, but I’d always kept The Neon Tea Party name as my Instagram handle and as a brand I could always come back to.

Being blessed and cursed with an entrepreneurial spirit (both of my parents are/were entrepreneurs themselves), I decided a year or so ago to bring back TNTP in a real way and turn it into my livelihood. TNTP is basically just a manifestation of all the millions of fluorescent-hued, tasselicious ideas floating around in my brain.

If your story could fit into a 30 second commercial, how would it go down?

Girl loves color, crafting and globally inspired goods. Girl has a million zillion ideas swirling around her brain. Girl educates herself on all facets of building a brand. Girl dives head-first into a pool made up of her dreams and never looks back. (All with an incredible group of friends, family and fiancé cheering her on!)

What ultimately made you decide to do the lovely thing you do?

They say not to start a business unless your body aches with passion about the idea. (Okay, maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit.) But seriously, unless your ideas come from deep within your soul, you’re not going to get very far. Trust.

I ultimately decided to pursue The Neon Tea Party because it is my professional calling in life. I just know it in my bones. I had been interviewing for jobs all while starting up TNTP 2.0, and when they asked me about my ultimate career goal, the answer was always to start my own company. With this on my mind, plus major encouragement from my fiancé, I said “f*** it,” stopped the job hunt, and hired myself to grow this dream.

Who’s positively influenced your path the most?

If I had to pick one person, it would be my fiancé, Sam. I honestly don’t think I’d have the guts to go for it if it weren’t for his belief in me and everything TNTP is capable of becoming. Beyond Sam, I’d have to give a shout out to my last boss Ali Galgano for her belief in me on soo many levels and entrusting me with an enormous amount of responsibility at times I didn’t think I could handle it (but I did!). And finally, all of my friends, friends of friends, Instagram friends, etc. who genuinely and effortlessly understand what TNTP is all about and support the vision. The amount of screenshots of llamas, Frida Kahlo paraphernalia, and pompom covered goodies people send me is insane! People I haven’t spoken to in years might send me something that reminded them of TNTP. These moments confirm that there is a real brand vision here and real long-term potential for success.

Favorite part about working for yourself?

My favorite part of being my own boss is that I get to be motivated by my own vision and work towards bringing that vision to life everyday. When I’ve worked for other people, I’ve often created my own vision within their vision and worked towards that. Eventually I realized I needed to establish my own dream and apply my inexhaustible work ethic towards that. There is almost nothing more satisfying.

Most challenging thing about working for yourself?

Time management, for sure. Especially since I work for myself without any employees or anyone else to report to, every day is what I want to make of it. Some days that reality is amazing amazing amazing, and other days leaves me overwhelmed or stumped as to how to make the most of my day. Like most entrepreneurs, I’m incredibly hard on myself. I know that my time is my most valuable asset and how I choose to use it is something I need to take very seriously in order to achieve all these goals floating around in my brain.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

Two ways: by immersing myself in inspiration or by making stuff with no real goal in mind.

I’m blessed to live in New York City, so a walk around a cool neighborhood can lead to dozens of new ideas (or, at very least, Instagram material!). Pinterest is also my BFF, so I’ll often hunker down with the platform when I’m generating ideas for a new project.

Regarding making, I find that bringing to life some of the ideas that have been chilling in my head for too long lead to more ideas or simply the satisfaction of having created something awesome.

If you could be a fly on the wall to anyone’s creative space {dead or alive} who would it be?

Oh man, there are so many answers to this question. Currently, I am simply just in awe of other lifestyle brands that have grown from blogs and the wonder that is Instagram. Oh Joy’s Joy Cho, Cupcakes & Cashmere’s Emily Schuman, The Jungalow’s Justina Blakeney and Studio DIY’s Kelly Mindell are just some of the women that inspire me everyday and help guide the vision for my business. I’m dying to meet with these girlbosses to learn their secret sauces and how to grow TNTP to that magnitude.

Frida Kahlo, Jenna Lyons, Leandra Medine, Vivanna Volpicella, Linda Rodin and Taylor Tomasi Hill are just some of my creative, forever homegirls whose homes, offices/studios, closets and moodboards I’d kill to see IRL! I’m DEFINITELY missing people because in general, I’m incredibly fascinated (read: girl crush-y) with cool female creatives, and I’m constantly acquiring new loves.

Talk about a failure you’ve learned from.

I’ve heard that most entrepreneurs don’t succeed until their third business endeavor. I like to think that TNTP is number three for me (let’s hope!!). A friend and I created a lifestyle magazine in college—which is still alive and kicking!—however, I had never started something like that before and there are so many things I would have done differently about the management of the organization if I started it now. The last company I worked for was also very much an entrepreneurial experience. When I was hired, I was one of five employees and was in a bit over my head for a while. Between these two experiences, there are countless mistakes I made and learned from. All of those lessons I’ve taken with me to TNTP and continue to apply every day, everything from time management and delegation to professionalism and presentation, as well as tactical concepts like marketing, branding and networking.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments in business?

Landing my first sponsored content! This happened very recently, albeit through a connection, but ultimately the partner agreed to pay me to produce content for them based on the quality of my work. And not only that, they genuinely loved the finished product! This single accomplishment has confirmed my faith in TNTP as a viable business. There’s seriously nothing more rewarding than people not only understanding but also wanting what you put out there!

What do you wish you knew when you first started that you know now?

Man, I don’t know that I’ve been doing TNTP long enough to be able to give a good answer. The one thing, though, that I always tell myself is that it’s all going to work out exactly how it’s supposed to. That’s not to say you can kick back and think opportunities are just going to fall from the sky—quite the contrary. But if you pursue what you love, what your soul calls you to do, and you work tirelessly towards that vision, great things are bound to happen.

How did you land on the name “the neon tea party”?

It’s kind of a silly story. Back in the day when Facebook would ask you to list your interests, I went a little crazy and must have shared 50 things I love—everything from friendship bracelets to Led Zeppelin. Well when I was looking for a name for TNTP 1.0, I looked at this list and “neon” came before “tea parties” and something just clicked. “The Neon Tea Party” seemed to sum up everything I love aesthetically. And it doesn’t hurt that it lends itself to a broad lifestyle theme, rather than JUST fashion or JUST crafting. I think having a strong name is half the battle and I am so relieved to have found mine early on.

What’s next / What are you most excited about?

Right now I’m working on redesigning my site to be a bit more sophisticated and dynamic, which I’m so stoked about! By the end of the year I plan to launch branded crafting/networking parties called Neon Tea Parties plus an online shop for handmade goods, globally sourced items and craft supplies. Stay tuned!!

Time of the day you are most productive:

First thing in the morning and late at night. I’m a night owl by nature, but you can’t argue that a fresh brain is a productive brain.

The app you couldn’t live without:

Instagram. Duh. But A Color Story and Planoly are my faves for editing and planning my content!

Social media outlet you love most:

Pinterest all the way.

Favorite Pandora station at the moment:

I’m a Spotify girl, actually! I’ve been listening to a lot of Bollywood music lately after dancing at my best friend’s big fat Indian wedding a couple months ago.

Who would you like to see featured on a postage stamp?

Frida!! Or a llama.

Go to piece in your wardrobe:

JEANS! Also white t-shirts, stripes, a bracelet stack, and these boots, which are the best fashion investment I’ve ever made.

Favorite Netflix binge: I’m still sad I finished Parenthood. That was three months ago.

Where can we find TNTP:

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