The Early Years
Cris entered the workforce at the early age of 13, when her family faced a few financial set-backs after a move to a new city.
She was hired by a local restaurant to care for hostess duties. When other girls her age were baby sitting or managing paper routes, Cris was employed in a restaurant outside of the family circle and was contributing to family expenses.
Cris's mother, Jeannie, involved Cris in the family budget early on. Debit and Credit statements were a part of her day-to-day life. So it was easy for Cris, at the age of 13 to realize more deposits were needed in order for their family to make it through this transition period.
"I proudly saved a lot of what I earned, and my mother constantly encouraged me to keep my money in the bank. I will never forget however, that December of 1998, when I surpassed $1000.00 in my Royal Bank statement book, and my mom said it would be a nice treat for me to buy myself something really special. That navy blue designer turtleneck sweater will always hold a special place with me. Got it on an amazing sale too!".
My First Professional LetterHead
I was no more than 9 years old when I first started sketching dress ideas. I still remember the first "dress" I made. It was constructed from a red and white checker quilting fabric (think traditional Italian restaurant) with a few pineapple images in every other checker box. I had found it for a few dollars and was determined this was going to be my favourite Sunday dress.
I wasn't quite comfortable yet with our sewing machine, so I stitched it by hand. A waist band was fashioned and the fabric was gathered to create the flow of a skirt. Due to the simplicity of the design, I decided a white t-shirt under the "dress" would be best.
I do not recall if I wore this "masterpiece" more than once, but I clearly remember feeling proud and fabulous on one special Sunday occasion. My mother and grandmother entertained the idea and let me wear this craft of a dress! Could you ask for better support?!
By the time I was 15 years of age, my skills improved greatly and I was receiving contract inquiries. We didn't have a computer at home, so this was just another time I used the local library resources. There I made my very first letterhead. At that time I thought "Paris Hart Designs" would be an amazing name! Little did I know a different "Paris" was soon explode all over the tabloids!
Paris Hart Designs officially started in January of 2002, was with me throughout high-school and was the name on my receipts when I issued invoices to my clients from school and from my part-time employment connections.
I entered the business fair at school and won an award for my branding and business plan.
When I reached University and was well into my first semester, an Italian professor insisted on calling me "Cristella".
My mother's maiden name is Bumbacco (Calabrese) and I was raised in a small Italian community. I didn't appreciate my heritage growing up, you just grow up surrounded by people, no one tells you they are Italian. No one says you are eating Italian food, it's just food.
It wasn't until I was an adolescent and began researching my hometown and grandparents, that I began to embrace my roots. When people asked me what I was, I rhymed off "French, Italian, Irish and Dutch, a quarter of each". But when it came to the arts, food and rich culture, the Italian part of me, yes that full-quarter, grew and grew and grew. Who knew an Italian class could hit me so hard.
Crystal Jean, became, "Cristella Gina". The name was founded in 2003 (replacing Paris Hart Designs) and it remains a special part of me, still showing up and influencing my branding today. MORE COMING SOON...