Meet Marisa, creator of The Neon Tea Party. She is part Pom Pom expert, part DIY Queen, and a maven of all things colorful and crafty. Her creative prowess leapt out at me with her first project as an ambassador of Woman Shops World, and she has continued to dazzle me with her DIY-diva skills.
I sat down with her virtually recently to pick her brain and hope you’ll enjoy this glimpse inside Marisa’s colorful, crafty world!
Q: You seem to be a master at incorporating all things colorful and funky into your home and life. To what do you attribute your love of color and whimsy?
I think my love of color and whimsical details stems from being a kid in the 90s obsessed with all things Limited Too and Lisa Frank. The bright colors, playful iconry and nods to 60s flower child culture (peace signs, smiley faces, tie dye) were ubiquitous within these brands and style in general at the time and I loved it all so much. This love for color and whimsy stuck with me! As a visual person, I’m very affected by the things I look at. Vibrant colors have a way of bringing me abundant joy, as they do for so many others!
Marisa's NYC Apartment
Q: At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue a career as a DIY-er?
It happened really organically. You know when people are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives so they ask themselves what they would be happy doing all day long? My answer to that question was always arts and crafts. When I started TNTP as a lifestyle blog in late 2016, I most enjoyed creating content for my DIY category, which also lead me to begin teaching craft classes. The more I crafted, the more I felt DIY to be my sweet spot since I really could happily do arts and crafts all day. Now I’m on a mission to make crafting cool and accessible by sharing awesome, globally-inspired DIY projects and teaching crafts in person and online via my website, theneonteaparty.com.
Photo by The Confetti Project
Q: What is it about Pom Poms that you love so much?
I’ve always had this obsession with colored yarn and string details, whether a bright embroidered design on a blouse or a little pink string bracelet tied to one’s wrist. Something about these delicate pops of color, I think. Pom poms and tassels are simply bunches of colorful yarn so they’re like my catnip - I go crazy when I see good ones!
My love for pom poms and tassels as design details plus the affordability of supplies to make them made it a no brainer to try my hand at making them and, needless to say, I got hooked! I also have an innate control freak tendency so all that trimming when making a pom pom is a good fit for my personality. ;)
A daily reminder
Q: What is your biggest challenge as a creative-preneur?
Oh gosh there are so many, but I’d have to say the thing I struggle with most is the internal battle that comes as a result of being your own boss. Most days I wonder if I accomplished enough, if I could have done more or better. There’s no one aside from myself to answer that question, so it totally messes with me. I’m learning that as long as I bring my A game everyday and live a healthy lifestyle that provides me with plenty of energy and focus, each day I’ll do the best that I possibly can. And inevitably when there are days I didn’t do my best for one reason or another, I try to remind myself that it happens and that tomorrow will be better.
A recent pom pom class at Oh! Canary in Maplewood, NJ
Q: What is a typical day for you like?
My day usually consists of a combination of being at my computer in the kitchen working on projects, accounting or emailing with clients; prepping supplies for classes and events; teaching classes; making project sample or fulfilling customer orders; and taking lots photos of whatever I’m working on. Oh, and I definitely spend too much time on Instagram.
Back to my point about living a healthy lifestyle, I try to start my day taking an hour to myself in which I’ll do things that wake up my brain and make me happy such as read in bed, do 30 minutes of yoga, or work on a personal craft project. I have a similar routine at night to wind myself down. I try to be in bed around 10:30 (which is super early for this night owl!) and read for 30 minutes rather than scroll Instagram or watch tv like I used to. These new additions to my routine have made a world of a difference in my happiness and productivity.
Q: What one piece of advice would you offer someone starting their own creative business?
Be yourself in your business and don’t get hung up on competition. The more of your unique self that you put into your business (your ideas, aesthetic, voice, personality) the more distinguished and approachable (and, ultimately, successful) it will be! It’s such a cliche but there is only one you in the world, so use your uniqueness as a tool to make your business something people have never seen before, even if there are many similar businesses out there.
Regarding competition, remember that there is plenty of work to go around. Jealousy or feeling less-than are wasted emotions that can only hurt your business. Instead, look to your competition for inspiration, learn from them, and even befriend them! Some of my closest business friends and mentors (including you, Carter!) are in a similar space to me. I’m constantly uplifted and inspired by them, and I try to do the same for them in return.
To bring these two points full circle, it doesn’t matter if there are a million other businesses who offer the same product or service as you. If you’re putting your own unique spin on it, your business will be totally one of a kind and “competition” will be irrelevant.
Tassel decorations providing inspiration at Matta in NYC
Q: What do you do to get through a creative roadblock?
I love this question. And I honestly love being in this situation because on the other side of a creative roadblock are a zillion and one ideas just waiting for you. Depending on time of day or how busy I am, I’ll either go down a Pinterest/internet wormhole and save loads of fresh inspiration or I’ll visit some of my favorite stores in NYC to see what they have going on. Some of my favorite stores to visit for a serious creative boost are ABC Carpet & Home, Matta, Aurelie Bidermann, Bergdorf Goodman, Purl SoHo, Madewell, Anthropologie and Free People.
Woman Shops World x TNTP Pom Pom Chandelier
Q: What’s your favorite DIY project you’ve ever made?
I love the pom pom chandelier I made with camel swag from Woman Shops World (people bugged out over that one!), but my favorite project was probably the wedding cake piñata I made for my wedding last August. It was a huge labor of love but it came out so beautiful and totally thrilled our guests! Hitting the piñata (in place of cutting the cake) was such a highlight of our wedding, so I have especially fond feelings for it.
Wedding cake piñata by The Neon Tea Party
Q: What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
Everything! Ha! My goal is for The Neon Tea Party to become a major player in the DIY/design/lifestyle space inspiring and providing resources for colorful craft lovers everywhere. I hope to take the phrase “I’m just not creative” out of people’s vocabularies and inspire others to make the things that they’re lusting after in stores. I hope to travel the world gathering inspiration and craft supplies, enabling TNTP to shine light on colorful projects from around the globe. I hope to create job opportunities in other countries that need them while simultaneously growing a team here in the states to help bring all these ideas to life for the world’s enjoyment.
All of this said, I recognize that life and business are unpredictable. While I will do my darndest to make these goals realities, I also accept that plans will change, new ideas and opportunities will present themselves, and that everything (in life and TNTP) will work out exactly how it’s supposed to.