We had the good fortune of connecting with Karissa Noelle and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Karissa, why did you pursue a creative career?
Watching people around me work in office settings and professional careers just looked unfulfilling. I wanted to have fun with no one hanging over my shoulders and especially no requirements of a business professional dress code. I sought a career that brought new projects everyday and required the use of all my artistic abilities. Travel is a big determining factor because I love to have freedom to get up and go. My reckless spontaneity is directly linked to my happiness!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I can’t be categorized. Once someone thinks they’ve figured my style out, I’ve already switched it up again. I’m through the hard part of finding myself, so now I’m able to grow and flourish in who I know I am. I’m most excited for the leveling up of What Is Casual and how I’ll be able to touch people’s lives. I have big plans for my brand that extend past fashion and venture into my other interests in STEM.

Building anything takes time and MONEY! I used to spend whole paychecks from my part-time, minimum wage job on my blog. I wasn’t able to quit if I wanted to because everything would’ve went to waste. I had to always see my work as an investment in myself. The other biggest challenge is burnout. When I’m writing or creating anything consistently I run the risk of hitting my creative block. It’s those moments I shy away from my online presence to travel and become re-inspired. I’m able to create content for my joy and I’m blessed to have others that enjoy my work too.

My advice to creatives is find people who you aspire to be and research their journey. I’ve made a good chunk of my decisions modeled after creatives like Elaine Welteroth and Shiona Turini. Don’t copy, but use who you look up to as a foundation to what you’re building.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is being careful who you tell your plans to. People will project their fears onto your dreams accidentally or purposefully. That fear can shut what was an open door for you. Sometimes you have to tell family and friends afterwards.

I keep God first in everything. I’m able to make decisions as freely as I do because I trust that only good will be the outcome. I hate having backup plans because I’m confident that my skills and preparation will make Plan A work. Keep tweaking your craft to make your Plan A work.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Texas has the best barbecue in the nation. For the best in Houston, I always stop at Triple J’s Smokehouse in the greater 5th Ward. The food is unmatched and I love knowing I’m supporting a local Black-owned business.

If you only want to do things for instagram, definitely book a spot at Flower Vault. It’s a big studio with giant flower arrangements and flower walls solely for photography. You get the best parts of nature without being outside! Houston is home to The Color Factory as well. It’s like a museum of interactive art exhibits and games. It’s perfect for childlike fun and bold instagram photos.

Houston has quite the art scene with lots of art museums. One of my favorites is the Houston Museum of African American Culture. The exhibits always give beautiful depictions of the Black perspective in America.

We bar hop for nightlife, so we’ll be hitting up Wonder Bar with their eclectic decor and outdoor swings. The drinks come in different custom bottles and taste great for whatever you like. It’s Sunday and you have to Sunday Funday. It’s a city law in Houston. Lost & Found is the spot for great food, drinks and tropical decor. It’s Black-owned and the place to be for a good time.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mom and little sister have always been supportive of my endeavors. My mom introduced me to my faith, which I cling to and has the gift of making things happen right when I need. I call my little sister Kailyn my at-home best friend. Usually the older sibling teaches the younger, but Kailyn has taught me so much with confidence in my career. I always seek their advice on outfits, blog topics and anything that’s peaked my interest. There are so many more faces that have helped me along and I’m so blessed to have crossed paths with them. I love and thank all of them!

Website: www.whatiscasual.com

Instagram: @whatiscasual

Image Credits
Karissa Franklin and Tiffany Brown @tipp.brown

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