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Events & Style: Diner en Blanc Houston #DEBHouston

Yesterday, Sunday November 10, 2019 I attended Le Dinner En Blanc Houston in Downtown Houston’s Water Way at Memorial Park.

I was invited to attend as a VIP/Media partner and although I’d heard of the illustriousness of this event in past years, nothing prepared me for how much fun I was going to have!

About the event

The day of the event, the secret location is revealed to thousands of friends who have all been patiently waiting to learn where “Dîner en Blanc” will take place. Thousands of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.

DEB Houston 2019 PC @carissastephens

Over the course of the evening, guests experience the beauty and value of their city’s public spaces by participating in the unexpected. Beyond the spectacle and elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by good taste and a love of beauty. Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamor of high French society, and guests engage one another, knowing that they are taking part in a truly magical event. There are no disruptions: no car traffic, no pedestrian traffic—only amazed and astonished looks from passersby observing the scene before them. And participants, like spectators, wonder whether it’s all not a dream.

History: Over 30 Years Ago in Paris…

Launched with just a handful of friends by François Pasquier in 1988, Le Dîner en Blanc® de Paris continues to assemble close to 10,000 guest every year. In 2018 a record 17,000 guests from Paris and around the world gathered at the Esplanade des Invalides to celebrate its 30th anniversary. The French capital’s most prestigious sites have played host the event over the years: The Pont des Arts, the Eiffel Tower, Place Vendôme, the Château de Versailles, the Esplanade de Notre-Dame, the Esplanade des Invalides, the periphery of the Place de l’Étoile, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Le Louvre Pyramid, Trocadéro Esplanade, and the Palais Royal Garden! The Paris police continue to tolerate this ‘wild’ gathering, if not perhaps even wishing they could join in! The creole in me was most satisfied! lol

The night was absolutely perfect. When I tell you that Houston weather was flawless… As we approached the park around 5:45pm, we noticed a clear and beautiful sky which twighlighted at dusk and was the perfect backdrop for the view of downtown Houston. There wasn’t any humidity in the air and the temperature remained comfortably in the 60s.

Walking up to the park, you could hear the second line band playing familiar favorites as guests were greeted at entry. The fashion was something to be noted. Guests bring their own (all white) picnic gear but the VIP/Media area supplied all my food and adult beverage needs.

I stayed on or near the main stage or in the VIP lounge, dancing most of the night! Even better, I got to enjoy the evening with my sister Amber and girlfriends Constance and Elle Mae.

Though the crowd was mixed, one entertainer said it best… “We are here in all white but tonight is about black excellence!” That being said, the nature, demographic and vibe of this event varies from city to city and is probably reflective of the hosting cities local population, I’d imagine! The entertainment was SPECTACULAR with live musicians and DJ on the 1s and 2s. Check out this IG post for some video footage!

Dîner en Blanc International is responsible for developing this secret posh picnic in close to 80 cities in 30 countries around the world with over 130,000 participants.

I definitely look forward to attending this event again next year! For more information, visit https://houston.dinerenblanc.com

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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.

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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

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Events: #CCStyleSummit + My Top 5 Takeaways

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Create and Cultivate‘s Style Summit in partnership with Simon Malls at the Houston Galleria.

As a new mama, being able to attend industry events that are tailor made for entrepreneurial women feels like a super productive mini getaway and I always feel so empowered having connected with other like-minded women. At the event, I saw some familiar faces and made acquaintances with a ton of new ones! I also invited my sister to come with!

I engaged with several beautiful brand activations, (Origins and Rolex were my favorite) and even began the process of securing future collaborations with a major brand that I’m so excited about!

They rolled out all the stops for this one with a fabulous open bar and a panel of influencers that had a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and REALNESS to share! Here are my 5 biggest takeaways from the awesome panel discussion (in which I’m paraphrasing):

  1. Know your worth as a creative. Send your rates sheet, sis. Too often creatives only get paid marginally for their work or in exchange for gifts. It’s time we raise the bar as a collective. Of course there are many factors that go into compensation and everything is negotiable but closed mouths don’t get fed. Believe in the value of your work.
  2. Be smart about what brands you align YOUR brand with. Many of us are our own personal brand. We must be protective to a certain extent of the brands that we are building/ growing. Everything isn’t for everybody. Be sure your partnerships make sense for your brand.
  3. Quality over quantity! Having true influence or impact is not about your number of followers or post likes. What is that engagement looking like? Are your followers genuinely following you because they like your content? If you called them to action, would they move? Companies are wising up to these inflated numbers that are really just colored bubbles for many. Building a real community for your brand with consistency and quality content is the key to long term success.
  4. Remember why you started. Entrepreneurship looks cute on social media which is why many jump in without careful consideration. The truth is, the days can be very long as the grind is continuous. People tend to underestimate the level of commitment and consistency being successful in this business requires. You can look all cute on the gram but at home you’re looking crazy… plugging away like a mad woman. lol! This will also help you maintain brand integrity. At the end of the day, you have to remember why you chose this! You have to remind yourself of that feeling you got when you knew you had to take that leap of faith and pursue your dream!
  5. Relationships are key. Like REAL face to face interaction with humans. lol I’ve always been a very social person but since becoming a mom, my schedule is so busy. It does take an extra effort and planning to come out to industry events. Connecting on the gram is fine in the interim but there is nothing like that face-to-face energy when connecting with someone. The connection is a lot more real and the impression is longer lasting.

I feel tremendously blessed to be able to design the life I love and I hope to continue to make an impact by inspiring women of all ages to live their best life, unapologetically. I thank God for the vision, the freedom, the grind… the journey.

I had so much fun attending this event and definitely plan on attending more Create and Cultivate events in the future! Did you attend? Do you plan on attended a Create & Cultivate event in the future? Leave me a comment below!

xo -Riss

carissa

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Events: Celebration, Sip and See for Baby Kamara!

If you’re new here, you may or may not know the story of my ‘Journey to Motherhood’. I wrote a full and detailed blog on my journey which began in January of 2017. If you haven’t read that blog, be sure you do.

Due to the fact I was on bedrest for 12 weeks during the second half of my pregnancy, I was not able to have a traditional baby shower though we were very blessed with so many gifts from our online baby registry. I got the greatest gift of all (my beautiful daughter born healthy and perfect) on December 30th, 2018. So when it came to the things I wasn’t able to do prior to my daughters arrival, like having a baby shower and nesting/ preparing her room, I tried not to be too bummed.

Waiting to design my daughters room after her arrival was probably a blessing in disguise. I was so much more comfortable and actually able to decorate the walls and stand! lol I was truly able to take my time without having so much else on my mind (like having a safe and smooth delivery). I designed her room after meeting her getting a feel for her personality!

When it came to celebrating Kamara’s arrival, my sister had me covered. She insisted that we celebrated the arrival of her magical, rainbow baby niece who has already brought so much love and light into the world and into the lives of those that meet her.

This past Saturday, we celebrated baby Kamara Michelle Stephens with a Sip and See that was so intimately beautiful! My mom and sister did an absolutely amazing job planning the event. I’m so grateful for them and the friends that helped! We had a blast and even played games that were so memorable, also due to the fact that the baby was there in our presence! Gratefulness is flowing from my heart…

Thanks for reading! xo -Riss

carissa

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Feature: Carissa Stephens As Seen On Houston Life TV | DIY Beauty!

Today, I had the opportunity to return to one of my favorite television sets, KPRC Ch. 2, as a beauty expert and filmed two live segments on one of my favorite topics… natural hair! I loved the opportunity to work with the Channel 2 crew and the hosts of Houston Life TV, Derrick Shore and Christine Noel, who was in for Courtney Zavala.

On my first segment, I shared 3 quick and easy DIY recipes: Optimal Moisture, Growth & Strengthen, and Smooth & Shine. On my second segment, I was accompanied by my 3 models, Nakyia, Amber and Devon. I showcased quick demos on easy-to-achieve, heat-less styles for curly hair. Check out my photos from the day and click the link below to watch my live segments on Houston Life TV!

WATCH HERE: https://www.click2houston.com/houston-life/hl-style/diy-hair-masks-using-items-you-probably-already-have-at-home

Thanks for reading! xo -Riss

carissa

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Feature: Modeling on Live TV ONE Month Postpartum

Yesterday, I had a complete blast on set at Channel 2 studios. I was contacted by a fellow blogger friend, Dawn Darnell, whom I’d met last year as we were both speakers at a woman’s conference.

She was looking for a model for her travel fashion segment on KPRC Ch. 2 Houston Life! She asked me if I’d be available and feeling up to it. Being just about a month from delivering my sweet Kammy Cakes, my initial thought was, “How am I going to look on TV after JUST having a baby?” How would I feel about my body so quickly after spending a season on hospitalized bed-rest and having an unplanned c-section?? Those thoughts didn’t linger around too long as I mustered up the courage to step out of my comfort zone and experience a confidence in myself like never before. A word to my new mama’s…. you can do anything and everything. Believe in yourself!

I learned that there would be several travel looks. The international traveler (ie. Europe, Africa), the cultural traveler (Austin, NOLA), the beach vacation look and the staycation look! I had the luxury of modeling the staycation look for the segment. Comfy, casual… chic.

I was excited to model this look because usually when I plan travel it is for destinations abroad. Now as a new mom, I am embracing all the fun that can be had even locally and am opening my eyes to all the experiences to yet be re-discovered right here in Houston. I am so looking forward to taking my daughter to the zoo, parks and museums and seeing the gems in this city through her eyes!

My look was so comfortable, I loved it! The shoes were sponsored by #DSW and the outfit was compliments of #TheLoft. The look, designed by Dawn, spoke to me as someone who likes to be cute, comfy and be on the go. The army green backpack was actually a diaper bag (cutest ever) and was the perfect compliment to the lounge pant, which I was obsessed with. The blouse I wore underneath was the perfect material to feel light and breezy with my layered look and the jacket provided that edgy pop that really completed the look.

The other ladies who modeled with me on the segment were so much fun to work with and the TV hosts, Derek and Courtney were also wonderfully warm and cool. The energy and vibe on set was so perfect.

If you missed the live segment, no worries. Click here to watch now!!!:

https://www.click2houston.com/houston-life/hl-style/travel-in-style-on-your-next-getaway

Thanks for reading and for watching! xo

carissa

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Events: On Tour for the I’m Me Foundation

Since Fall of 2016, NaturallyGG has had the pleasure of being presenters on JJ’s I’m Me Tour in Houston, TX. We have visited several inner city schools, educating and mentoring on the topics of health, natural hair, inner beauty, and owning your own individual uniqueness with confidence!

On the tour, the girls are exposed to mentors and influencers in the community that EMPOWER them in the areas of self-love, goal setting, financial literacy, beauty & style, fitness, cooking, career building and so much MORE!

We have been so blessed to serve our community in this capacity and look forward to continued mentor-ship and the next touring season with the I’m Me Foundation!

PRESS PLAY!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the tour which include us speaking at middle schools, high schools, colleges (Prarie View A&M University) and churches (Fountain of Praise).

Expressing the importance of self-care and opening up the floor for questions after our DIY whipped shea butter demo!

Influencing Young Queens

Before presenting at Prarie View A&M University!

At Fountain of Praise Church

NaturallyGG with other JJ’s I’m Me Tour Presenters at Fountain of Praise

We truly enjoy mentor-ship opportunities, motivational speaking and community involvement. To get us involved in your next community or outreach event, contact us at either address below. Peace and Blessings… Love and Light.

Learn More About JJ’s I’m Me Foundation

NaturallyGG’s YouTube Channel

Booking:

NGGEnterprises@yahoo.com

info@shescharissmatic.com

#ImMeTour #NaturallyGG

 

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Travel: Viva Las Vegas! Bellagio Review

Last weekend I had the great joy and privilege to take a mini-vacation with my two favorite girls in the world, my mom and sis. We spent the weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada and did not waste a single second of our time there. It wasn’t our first time here together but it was our first time staying at The Bellagio.

We all are working women and needed to unwind with a little relaxation and A WHOLE LOT OF FUN. What better place to do that than The Bellagio in Fabulous Las Vegas? The weekend Girls Trip came at the perfect time as we all met up right after work to catch our Friday night flight then basked in everything The Bellagio had to offer for the entire weekend.There were so many great things about this hotel that it would be near impossible to list them all so I will simply list my top 9 things that I love about this hotel (in no particular order). Why 9 things?… because The Bellagio and Vegas in general had us on Cloud 9. Read on.

  1. The Location – The Bellagio is conveniently located on the Las Vegas strip and in the midst of EVERYTHING! It is right across from the Paris hotel, Planet Hollywood and right in between Cesar’s Palace and The Cosmopolitan. So much is in walking distance that you will rarely need to hail a cab/uber. 
  2. The Planetarium – It is just the naturally beautiful and fragrantly amazing observatory filled with live and exotic florals accompanied by majestic figures. This part of the hotel changes season to season and can vary from everything to the coast line of Southern Italy to peaceful Japanese Gardens and even under water in the deepest parts of the ocean. 
  3. The Spa – I can’t say enough about the spa. We received lux massages with rich coconut \ body butter elixirs from the finest in the industry. Following our massages we dipped in the spa’s individual hot tubs for relaxation and meditation.
  4. The Pool – Boss. Enough said. 
  5. The Casino – Of course every Vegas hotel has a casino. But the Bellagio has been known to attract the wealthiest gamblers so it was fun to play a few slots, have a drink and watch others risk it all on the poker and black jack tables. 
  6. The Clubs – “Club Hyde” and “The Bank”. At one point in the club I looked up and felt like it was snowing. Confetti in amounts never before seen. Lit DJs. All of this in one hotel!
  7. The Shows – The O show is the long running show gem that plays at the Bellagio It’s a must see. Circus De Soleil is not playing any games with this one. We had our fair share of shows while in Vegas. Another must see is Zoomanity. 
  8. The Food– The Brunch buffet at The Bellagio is practically mandatory.  There are also several other cafés and eateries in the hotel. One of which include a chocolate, vanilla and caramel “water falls”.
  9. The Views – Right outside of our hotel were the beautiful Fountains at the Bellagio where the water danced as if it had a soul. Just beyond the fountains and across the strip, the view of America’s very own Eiffel Tower.

    LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 24: The Bellagio Hotel & Casino water show comes to life after dark on December 24, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas, the popular Southwest desert tourist getaway, appears to be making a slow economic recovery following a tough global recession. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

    Thank you Bellagio for showing us an AMAZING time! Viva Las Vegas!!

Thanks for reading! xo

carissa

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