Marissa is our CEO, founder and principal designer. A born visual artists and creator, she is in charge of all the visuals at STIL. Her love for organization started when she was 10 years old when she collected decorative notepads that she kept in a binder. That passion then grew when she was 13 and needed a planner for school. She would buy plain planners that she could create her own unique covers for. She treated her planners like diaries that kept detailed notes of every significant life event. Marissa first created her own planner in early 2013, when she created a simple day planner for herself. She was working as a graphic designer at the time, and the planner was really just a hobby project because she couldn't find one she really liked. It's first rendition was hand-bound and sewn by Marissa herself after she learned how to make hardcover books.
// “I made one, then started making others for Christmas gifts,” she said. At the time she was printing them at Kinkos, and sticking individual gold dots on the covers by hand."
Someone then suggested she try selling them on Etsy, so she gave it a shot. When she got orders she would wrap each planner by hand, and got her mother to help her on evenings after work. After Marissa had sold just over 50 planners on Etsy, she began looking into manufacturing, and what it would take to create 1,000 pieces.
// “I quickly realized the only thing standing in my way was my willingness to try. The last day at my full-time job was one I will remember forever. I woke up the next Monday thinking, ‘Oh my God! What am I going to do?”
But Marissa’s tenacity quickly overrode her anxiety, and she got to work. When her first planner sample arrived from the manufacturer, she was overjoyed. The day her first 1,000 planners arrived at the shipyard, she drove down to pick them up with a U-Haul truck she rented and brought them home to store in her little apartment to prepare shipping her first pre-orders. Marissa finally moved her products off Etsy and opened her e-commerce store in August 2014, and only four months after receiving that first shipment, she had sold all 1,000 planners. With a vision to create something she could love and grow with, Marissa gave herself a full year to rebrand, and in April 2016 relaunched as STIL.
// “I had filled an entire book with words just to figure out what my brand was going to be called."
She started thinking about the name, and realized she wanted to do something related to who she was, and the design work she enjoyed, so she started looking into Swiss and Dutch design, her two born backgrounds. Both are about monochromatic, clean and crisp design. Everything is very minimal and design-forward.
// “There’s a Dutch design movement called De Stijl that uses a lot of primary shapes and colours, and black and white, which is literally everything in my life. So I decided to use the German word for style — Stil — and used it in a way that essentially means a way of living."
Earlier this fall, Marissa launched the Metropolis Clutch on Kickstarter, and reached her funding goal in just 12 hours. The most surprising part of the experience was that people really loved the product . Marissa filmed her Kickstarter video herself, a skill she learned from watching YouTube tutorials on how to edit in iMovie. She already had a background in photography which came in very handy — she started with pinhole photography, then got into black and white, and even developed her own film back in the day.
// “The day I launched the campaign, I thought for sure I was going to fail. I was coming up with all sorts of ideas for what I was going to do if I didn’t reach my funding goal."
When we asked Marissa what was going well right now, she paused and took a moment to think with a smile.
// “Recognizing the pleasure I take in my own independence, and how much I enjoy my life, my work, the place I live, and the people I surround myself with. I’m lucky to have a circle of really good friends and a partner who encourage me. It’s also important to know what you want, and what you like.”
Today, Marissa runs STIL and is heavily involved at every level of the business. She designs packaging, manages photo shoots and connects with her customers on a daily basis. In her downtime, when she has a minute, she is known to enjoy her tea time, going on photowalks in new cities and reading through her extensive collection of print magazines while sitting in her robe with her hair up in her micro loft of 240 square feet.
Follow along with Marissa @marissacristina on instagram.