Feature: Classy Living Society Awards Carissa Stephens

Earlier this year I was contacted to do an interview for the Chronicles Too! and subsequently was notified that I would also be receiving an award at the upcoming Red Dress Gala that would be taking place in Downtown Houston and hosted by the owners of Chronicles Too!, Classy Living Society.

Classy Living Society is a multi-faceted women’s community service organization based out of Atlanta, Georgia with a hands-on approach to volunteerism founded by LaShanda Pitts in 2013. The organization has since achieved over 300,000 volunteer hours. The beneficiary of this year’s gala was Sock Out of Poverty, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization organization which provides socks, clothing, and other material goods to men, women and children that are in need or less fortunate. 

As an honoree, it was requested that I arrived several minutes early for press and photos. I was greeted at the door with champagne and the pleasant sounds of a live harp player. There was an instant feeling of sisterhood as over 200 melanated Queens, all dressed in red, entered into the grand ballroom at Le Meridien Hotel in Downtown Houston.

I enjoyed live music from Prodigy and the accompanying sounds of DJ Tay Powers on the 1s and 2s. The event opened with the singing of the negro national anthem led beautifully by Jessica Forest. Comedian Lady Q really helped get the party started with “Beyonce – Formation” vibes, her dancing and her over-sized black diva hat paying true homage to our Houston Queen, Bey. She was hilarious and had everyone laughing throughout the entire program. Brunch was delicious and there was even a second line band! I’m of creole ancestry so you know I’m always down for brass band music! There was such amazing energy during the entire gala!

The event was very well orchestrated, elegant AND absolutely lit all at the same time!!! I’m so grateful that CLS chose Houston as their host city for their prestigious gala this year and came here all the way from Atlanta for a weekend filled with sisterhood, positive vibes and an overflow of Black Girl Magic! 

I was blessed with the distinct honor and privilege to be recognized among several other influential boss women as an award recipient by Classy Living Society at their 6th annual #RedDressGala! The theme “Access Taken” spotlighted women who are pioneers in their fields, who have remained resilient in the face of adversity and who have defied the odds! Women who have not merely waited for access to be granted, but who have found success by designed their lives upon the principle of access taken.

During my speech I couldn’t help but mention the irony in the organization’s abbreviated name also being my initials! CLS! It’s amazing how God aligns you when you allow Him to!

I’m grateful to be able to continually have the opportunity to share my journey and inspirational gems with such gorgeous audiences. Thank you Classy Living Society, the founding sisters (especially Superwoman Founder, LaShanda Pitts) and my family and friends who came to support.

5 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me About Myself

Last weekend I celebrated my 32nd birthday. A new year of life always brings much reflection. I realized how much I’ve learned about myself from my last birthday to now. A lot has changed in my life recently, thus changing how I operate in certain ways. Bringing my daughter, Kamara, into the world last year has helped me to learn a great deal about myself. Becoming a mom has clarified many aspects of my personality and perception of the world. Here are 5 things motherhood has taught me about myself.

I’m extremely protective. As a big sister, I’ve always known that I was protective to a certain extent. Even with my friends I’m somewhat protective. Since becoming someone’s mother, my need to protect is on a whole ‘notha level! At almost 9 months, my daughter is supremely ambitious. She is standing on her own, scaling the ottoman in my living room, expressing a curiosity towards the doggy door and reaching for EVERYTHING! I know I need to let her explore a bit, even stumble and fall… but her gentle topples and shaky stance rocks me to my core! lol I watch her like a hawk during playtime and try as hard as I can to prevent her from hurting herself. The same holds true for my view towards her contact with germs. I hate feeling like she’s exposed to dangers seen and unseen. She’s a tough cookie though so I’m trying not to be so type A when it comes to this.

I love to plan ahead but can thrive on the fly. The Virgo in me loves and frankly demands planning ahead. I need things calendared, to-do lists prioritized by level of importance and a general forecast for the weeks and months ahead. Since becoming a mom, this has in some ways heightened. Mostly due to the fact that I am now responsible for another human and I can’t just get up and go wherever I want to all the time. It takes a lot to make arrangements for the entire or get everyone situated for an activity. Not to mention sometimes calling in my sitter (ie. Mama Pam who is living her BEST retired life and tends to be booked and busy herself!) My house is child proofed and looks a lot like a daycare most of the time so random pop ups make me uncomfortable. However, I try to remain as flexible as possible because variety is the spice of life. I am still open to spontaneous flights of fancy and when called to it, I rise to the occasion.

I’m resilient AF. I have been through a few challenging yet defining moments in my life, but my JOURNEY to motherhood takes the cake. Having endured a pregnancy loss in the past, followed by a challenging pregnancy that left me in the hospital for three months and delivering via an emergency c-section, showed me that I am very strong willed and can handle whatever life throws at me. Did I mention I was admitted back to the hospital postpartum AFTER bringing my baby home?! I stayed overnight with my newborn and husband in the same room that I was an antepartum patient in one night as medical staff monitored my blood pressure because my body was retaining water like a puffer fish. This is caused my blood pressure to become elevated to the point of concern. Through it all, I give God the glory for an ultimately favorable outcome and for molding me through my experience. Of course I had my moments… but true to form, I maintained my joyousness and optimism throughout the most challenging time of my life. “God is with her, she cannot fail.”

I look on the bright side of everything. With my testimony above, I can honestly say that so much good came out of my journey to motherhood. My faith was strengthened and so was my marriage. I got to really see the stuff my relationship was made of. I got to see who around me was really supportive and I got to understand and better appreciate my own strength. I tried to find reasons to laugh and express gratitude as often as possible throughout. My friend said to me jokingly the other day, “Girl, it could be the end of days and you’ll be like – well we might as well enjoy it!” I look at each day as such a blessing, more than ever before. I’ll never take the way the sun feels on my face for granted because I know what it feels like to not have that feeling for three months straight. Watching the seasons change is probably one of the most subtle yet rewarding observations of nature in our human experience. I was in the hospital on this day (first day of fall) last year. If you know me, you know I’ve always been as festive as they come. Oh but now!…

I absolutely love being in my home. I have been intentional about creating a home space with my husband that is rooted in peace, love and joy. We have achieved such a space and I am very grateful for that. I don’t get restless or bored at home. I couldn’t say this about 6 or 7 years ago. Home feels so good. I’m able to entertain and be entertained in my home beyond what I could’ve imagined prior. I used to be such a busy body! I’m so glad I’ve matured to appreciate the little things like cuddling up under a blanket with my sweet little family to enjoy a movie or drinking coffee from my breakfast table while writing for this blog and enjoying the natural sunlight that enters my home. Or sitting in my backyard on the patio set and watching the sun set over our lake while enjoying a glass of wine. These have all become weekly objectives that I love.

Motherhood is everything I dreamed of and more. It has made me a better person. It brings and indescribable amount of love and joy into my heart and home.

3 Easy DIY Hair Masks to Strengthen, Grow and Shine

Earlier this year, had the distinct honor and pleasure to appear as an expert guest on Houston Life TV for two different live television segments. I spoke to DIY natural hair masks in my first segment and heat-less natural hair styling in my second. Here is a recap of the masks I shared and how they’ll help your hair thrive all year long with no extra cost.

Moisture Retention

Ingredients: 1 whole ripened avocado, 2 tbsp pure honey, 2 tbsp coconut oil

Usage: This mask is great for a pre-poo (deep conditioning treatment before shampooing your hair). The avocado is a super food that is deeply nourishing when applied topically to the hair shaft and will deliver massive amounts of moisture from the good fats derived from the avocado. Honey is a natural emollient which further draws in moisture. It also contains proteins and amino acids that fortify the hair shaft to promote healthier, more pliable, well moisturized hair. Coconut oil strengthens the hair and gives it an illustrious shine! Not to mention makes the hair extremely soft.

Instructions: Whip all ingredients together in a food processor (recommended) or a small mixing bowl. Apply evenly to dampened, detangled hair section by section from the root to the tip. Let sit for 30min-1hour under a plastic processing cap. Shampoo with luke warm water following with a regular conditioner and cool rinse to seal the hair cuticles.

Strengthen and Grow

Ingredients: 2 eggs, 4 tbs mayo, 2 tbsp olive oil, approximately 10 drops of tea tree oil, approximately 5 drops of rosemary oil

Usage: Eggs are an incredible source of protein. They help fortify the building blocks of the hair when applied topically and help reduce breakage and shedding. (Real) Mayo is a good source of fat that when combined with the egg, helps create the creamy coating that further penetrates the hair shaft and helps your curls clump together. The moisturizing fat in the mayo is essential to counter the protein and amino acids in the egg, allowing for a well balanced recipe. Olive oil is the carrier oil in this mask that helps bring everything together nicely in addition to it’s nutritive benefits mentioned above in the previous mask. The tea tree oil serves as a natural antiseptic which helps clean the pores in the scalp and reduce product build up, thus promoting healthier growing hair. Rosemary oil has been proven to stimulate hair growth.

Instructions: Add each ingredient one at a time and use a whisk to blend. Apply evenly to dampened, detangled hair section by section from the root to the tip. Let sit for 30min-1hour under a plastic processing cap. Shampoo with luke warm water following with a regular conditioner and cool rinse to seal the hair cuticles.

Smooth and Shine

Ingredients: 1 whole ripened banana, 4 tbsp honey, 4 tbsp EVOO

Usage: Bananas deliver tremendous amounts of vitamin C when applied topically and also increase the hairs life cycle, thus contributing to length retention. I have also found that bananas make my hair more voluminous. Honey helps strengthen and lock in moisture. Olive oil is a household staple for most people. It contains vitamins and minerals that contribute to illustrious well moisturized hair.

Instructions: Whip all ingredients together in a food processor (recommended) or a small mixing bowl. Apply evenly to dampened, detangled hair section by section from the root to the tip. Let sit for 30min-1hour under a plastic processing cap. Shampoo with luke warm water following with a regular conditioner and cool rinse to seal the hair cuticles.

Try one or all of these masks depending on your hair’s needs and let me know how they worked for you! xo

A Love Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Young Queen,

You are MAGIC.

You do not have to bend to anyone’s expectations of you, period.

You can thrive living fully in your passions and will someday be able to monetize them all.

You are worthy of a great love. A love that surpasses what you can even imagine right now… and that love is coming, I promise.

Your voice matters… now and always.

The girls in your circle that you call your friends, will always be your friends. Trust me, they’re as real as they come. You’re lucky.

The few disingenuous stragglers that share a moment of time and space with you will weed themselves out, eventually.

Always trust your intuition.

School is important… but don’t trip about perfect grades. Several of the worlds wealthiest won’t even have a college degree in the future.

Dream baby… don’t let anyone make you feel like being a dreamer is a bad idea.

Remain free-spirited.

Don’t choose things just because they feel like a “safe route.”

Life will throw you some lemons… I’m going to let you know that right now.

But you’ll make lemonade… every single time.

You are stronger than you realize.

Your potential is limitless.

I love you.

carissa

Beauty: My Current Self-Care Regimen

Hi beauties! Here is a super quick guide to my beauty and self-care regimen!

Hair: I’ve been consistent with rubbing Jamaican Black Castor Oil my edges because postpartum shedding is real. I massage my scalp weekly. Low manipulation protective styles are a life saver!

Skin: I’ve discovered the importance of using a serum at night. Sdara Skincare Vitamin C Serum in conjunction with their derma roller (used once a week) and my Clarosonic with the brush head formulated for acne prone skin (used daily) is EVERYTHING to my skin. Also, my jade roller depuffs, feels amazing and gives my bone structure a more refined look when used consistently. I wrote a separate blog all about facial rolling that you can read here.

I also use natural beauty products from Origins such as their Checks and Balances cleanser, Ginzing under eye cream, their Charcoal Mask and their Original Skin Resurfacing mask. These are STAPLES.

Body: Lots of dancing and walks in the neighborhood on pretty days. Plus, my daughter is a heavy weight and I burn lots of calories toting her around, seriously. Not to mention going up and down my stairs with her multiple times a day. As far as what I am eating, it’s pretty much a low carb diet. I try to focus on protein and veggies with occasional fruit and grain. Very seldom to I indulge on “white” carbs. I also do not drink sodas with the exception of the occasional diet ginger ale or diet coke. Blueberry Green Tea by Yogi is a great morning cup to help keep your metabolism boosted and is a good coffee alternative.

Inner Glow: Drinking water and staying hydrated, prayerful, grateful and minding my business is truly a winning combo! I also make a point to enjoy me time regularly and I never apologize for it. This may include attending my Monday night Zumba, taking a bubble bath or sitting outside on my patio with a glass of wine. As a new mom, me time is critical. I hope tghis helps! The products listed here are sold in my Amazon store! Get easy access, everything conveniently in one place, secured checkout, and lightning fast shipping when you shop in my store!!! Thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon.

Hair: Updated Wash and Go

Hi beauties. I rarely do wash and gos on my 4b/c natural hair but recently had the opportunity to try the CurlMix Wash + Go System, steps 1-4 which made it SO easy to achieve a pretty wash and go! They have different systems to select from and I chose the lavender scented one for the smell and because the ingredients seemed super moisturizing and compatible with my hair type. I loved this system and I am definitely going to be doing this style more often! After vacation and protective styling, my hair was in need of some TLC. I started on stretched and detangled hair.

Step number 1 – the Pure Aloe Vera Shampoo. I loved how this shampoo smelled and it did a great job clarifying my scalp.

Step number 2 – the Pure Grapeseed Conditioner. This conditioner provided me good slip as I combed my wet hair in the shower.

Step number 3 – the Pure Avocado Moisturizer. This stuff was magic in a bottle. My hair literally felt like it’s thirst was being quenched. lol

Step number 4 – the Pure Flaxseed Gel. The flaxseed gel worked wonderfully, further locking in moisture and giving my natural curl pattern some luscious definition!

Watch the entire process made simple HERE!

Thanks for reading/ watching!

Try the Curlmix Pure Wash + Go System today and use code NATURALLYGG for 20% off at checkout! Get yours, sis! http://www.curlmix.com

Travel: Playa Del Carmen #GirlsTrip

What do you get when you take 10 accomplished women who have all known each other for well over a decade, have been through the ups and downs of life together, who all want the others to live their best life, and place them in a tropical paradise?

UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS AND THE GIRLS TRIP OF A LIFETIME! (with more girls trips to come)

This past week I experienced the enormous blessing of being able to travel internationally with my core group of friends… JUST BECAUSE.

This trip stands out to me from all my other travels in many ways. First, I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun for consecutive days in a row.

Second, we were all able to come together to celebrate success! I’d missed a recent girls trip to Vegas because I was pregnant and on bedrest. This trip made up for that x100. All but one of us (who is currently pregnant) were able to make the trip that was planned to simply be a much needed getaway for all of us!

Third, we experienced some very deep and meaningful conversations and walked away all knowing and appreciating each other EVEN more.

We stayed at the Ocean Maya Royale and enjoyed good food and entertainment while there! This resort was great for our girls trip because it is an all-inclusive resort which included multiple dining options (Italian, Asian, Mexican, etc), a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, on-demand open bar service from anywhere on the resort, an excellent calendar of events (live shows, pool parties, etc) and has beach access.

The place was quite charming with it’s perfect hues every morning and evening as the sun kissed the palm trees and with it’s random yet friendly wildlife that roamed freely! We utilized a travel agent for our flight and resort bookings and to stay organized with payments and planning.

We independently booked a private yacht which sailed briefly due to choppy water from Riviera Maya!

We partied hard on that boat once we got in calm waters! We also took a swim from the boat to a shallow area near where we anchored our boat. We had a full wait staff who served up food and drinks until our hearts were content and there was absolutely a ton of twerking to our #HotGirlSummer playlist!

Following our yacht party and after a day of rest, the resort concierge made sure we were taken care of when it came to the type of excursion we wanted to experience. We chose a half-day adventuresome option which involved us diving, zip-lining, snorkeling and swimming! Aventuras Mayas was the perfect tour company. Our tour guide Alan was personable and knowledgeable. He guided us through 3 different cenotes: a ‘lagoon’, a ‘tavern’ and an ‘open’ cenote. I enjoyed various elements of all 3! We were also fed an authentic Mexican lunch, buffet style while on the tour! Sooo much fun (and delicious)!!!

As a child, I had a bad snorkeling experience in Hawaii in which I almost drowned. I told myself it just wasn’t an activity that I was interested in after that. It was on my “blocked list” as my friend Jennifer would say. lol However, I am so glad I was open to this experience while on this trip. It was so relaxing floating in that water (my friends and I gliding through the water like a school of fish) and I can now say I love snorkeling! Wow!

Zip-lining and diving into the water was simply EPIC. Fun is an understatement!

The tavern cenote was nearly a spiritual encounter, just experiencing the earth in a way that I never had before. It felt like a sacred place. In fact, the local people of that area would historically use the tavern cenote as their actual place of worship and for healing of the mind, body and soul.

Most of my outfits (my favorites) including swimwear were purchased on Shein, but I also found Amazon and Fashion Nova helpful. I have linked some of my ‘lewks’ to my store for you.

I got all my life dancing, laughing and making new memories with my girlfriends and can’t wait until the next #GirlsTrip!

Click here for footage in my GIRLS TRIP highlight story on IG!

Besos – xxRiss

Beauty: The 411 On Derma-Rollers

This season, I’ve really stepped up my skin-care regimen. I’ve been trying to be more consistent with treatments and applying healthy products formulated to meet my skins specific needs.

I’ve been learning more and more about the benefits of derma-rollers and the different kinds. I have two, a jade roller and a micro-needle roller. Here is what I learned about each of them.

Jade Roller Benefits

  • Use after washing face in the morning to really wake your face up and get your day started, at night before bed to relax, or both!
  • Reduces inflammation and puffiness of the skin, including reducing the appearance of under eye circles (especially if your roller is cold).
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system and blood circulation.
  • Easy and relaxing way to pamper yourself on a daily basis. For those into crystals, the jade stone is also known for purity, gentleness and love. People use jade stone to invite harmonious, balanced and protective energy.
  • This roller feels amazing. Get you a jade roller, sis! Click here to get yours in two business days!

Micro-needling Benefits

  • This tool can be used once or twice weekly as a very effective skin rejuvenation treatment and should be cleaned in an alcohol solution before and after each use.
  • Effectively reduces acne.
  • Brightens complexion, reduces scars from acne, sun spots and aging.
  • Tightens pores, helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, and allows for skincare products to penetrate more deeply.
  • Reduces the signs of aging by increasing collagen production. Fine lines are noticeably reduced with consistent use.
  • Balances moisture levels naturally. It is especially ideal for oily skin.

I’ve added a Vitamin C serum to my night time regimen and I love how effective it’s been with the help of my derma-roller. My skin is noticeably more even and brighter, especially after it’s postpartum freak out. I had terrible acne and severe dryness before the regimen I am on now. I am gratefully privy to this information about derma-rollers and happy to share it with you!

I have partnered with Sdara Skincare to #giveaway one Derma-roller + Vitamin C Serum, my absolute skincare addictions since I got my hands on them. Winner will be announced next week. Enter Here To Win! or click the image below.

Thanks for reading! xo -Riss

carissa

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Twitter: @charissmatic1

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Events: 10 Cool Things To Do in Houston This Summer

1. The Fomo Factory. This immersive art pop up, designed to feel like a journey through childhood has come to Houston this summer in the Galleria and features 17 IG worthy rooms to play in! (*Unfortunately, the Fomo Factory has closed since this blog was published due to unforeseen circumstances. Sorry if you missed out.)

2. Museums After Dark. This is a super fun date night idea! Houston’s Museum of Natural Science and the Buffalo Soldiers Museum both offer happy hours in the evenings on certain days.

3. Brunch at The Dunlavy. It’s a well known fact that Houstonians love brunch! The Dunlavy offers public dining daily from 7am – 2pm and is available to reserve for private events in the evenings. This place will give you all the “Easy like Sunday Morning” feels with specialty menu items including delicious mimosas. The ambiance is simply gorgeous (just my style) with a view overlooking Lost Lake and the Buffalo Bayou. This place is for foodies like me.

4. Host a Pedal Party. If you’re up for some adventure try hosting a pedal party on a nice evening this summer or fall. I’ve hosted one with my professional networking group and it was so much fun! It’s a self powered bar that can sit up to 16 people as your collectively bike through midtown and downtown Houston.

5. Rooftop Movie Cinema Club. Super themed and super fun. I love, love, love a good movie night! How fun that I can watch great movies on a Houston rooftop? I love the $5 bottomless popcorn, well crafted drinks, gourmet hotdogs and colorful installations!

6. Staycation at the Marriott Marquis. When I was working downtown I watched this hotel be built brick by brick from my building. Amazing! The Texas shaped pool and excellent service make this conveniently located Houston gem a no-brainer for a nice staycation.

8. Miller Outdoor Theater. Of course their is always a good show at Herman Park that the people of Houston can enjoy! Being “on the hill” at Miller always make me feel so care-free and happy! Check out their list of upcoming shows, great for the entire family!

7. Present Company. Truthfully, this is just another bar. BUT it is one that is beyond photogenic, with the best bar food in town, great drinks, excellent service and good vibes! Not to mention there is an open rooftop that allows a peek into the city skyline. Views are always a plus in my book!

9. Candytopia. We are just a super cool city to have such a dope art scene! Another fun immersive art pop up has come to Houston featuring non other than Queen B herself. All of the art installations are made from candy! Come taste and see!

10. Magical Unicorn Dessert Bar. Need I say more?? Yummy desserts to that take a summer treat or cheat meal to the next level! So fun and the menu is lit. Be sure you come with a sweet tooth!

Have you already been to any of the places listed above or would like to go? Do you have any places you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below about a place or experience you’ve discovered and would like to share!

Till next time! -xo Riss

carissa

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Events: Powered by Nature, Proven By Science | Origins Event Recap

This past Friday, my sister and I had the great pleasure of hosting an intimate pampering session for a little over 10 of our close friends at the Origins store in the Galleria.

We have both been big fans of the brand for years because of the integrity of their products! I love that they use naturally sourced ingredients that are proven effective. They stand true to their tagline, “Powered by nature, proven by science.

Origins pulled out all the stops for us during our family and friends event.

We were treated to complimentary facials, massages, make-overs and light bites.

We got to share some of our favorite products with our girls who enjoyed 20% off all purchases AND a free gift with purchase! Several of the girls were trying new products for the first time and fell in love.

We had such a great time with our girls and the Origins crew!

We will be opening up our guest list and doing another pampering event soon! We’ll also be doing an EPIC Origins giveaway!

Here are some of their most popular products. You can come and try them all for free at our next event so get your list ready! Favorite Beauty Products

Subscribe to this blog and turn on post notifications on Instagram to make sure you don’t miss a beat. See you soon!

xo -Riss

carissa

Contact us for business inquiries and collaborations. We’d love to hear from you!

Learn more ABOUT

CONNECT:

Facebook: She’s ChaRISSmatic

Instagram: @carissastephens

Twitter: @charissmatic1

Snapchat: @charissmatic1