We had the good fortune of connecting with Carliss Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carliss, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
My favorite quote or affirmation actually comes from the book of Proverbs Chapter 18 Verse 16 in the Bible.
KJV “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”
The first part to me means that God has given all of us gifts and abilities to create something. That something could be as small as a tube of lip balm or as big as an airplane, but we are all gifted with something. The second part talks about that gift making room for you and it’s my belief that once we tap into whatever our gift or gifts are, that doors will begin to open and opportunities will start to find us. The Proverb is in line with something I hear people say all the time:
“If you do what you love, the money will follow”
Personally I feel like once we tap into whatever our gifts are, we will find pleasure in doing it and it won’t feel like a burden or a chore. I actually figured out that I love writing about twenty years ago when I started to write some poetry here and there, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I realized that I had a passion to write books. I just decided one day that I was going to start, so everyday when I went to lunch I would sit in my car and manually write in composition books that I had. It took about two years for me to finish hand writing the book and another year to type it out. Writing is so therapeutic for me and I enjoy it so much that I immediately sent my manuscript off for copyright and started writing the sequel. Fast forward three years later to 2020, I was sitting on a completed manuscript that I had copyrights to and had over half of the sequel done, but I had to pump the breaks on myself. I love writing so much that I neglected to nurture the first book and it was just sitting unedited and unpublished. Like I mentioned in my interview from last year, I stepped away from my 9 to 5 of twenty one years and decided to focus on things that I love. My book was pretty high on that list, so after letting a couple of people read it and getting some great reviews, I decided to read it again myself and do a little of my own editing. Now my first manuscript is with the editors of a great Publishing Company that’s assisting me with Self Publishing, so be on the look out for my Urban Fiction Novel titled Good, Bad or Better later this year or in early 2022.
Not only do I love to write, but I also love making lip care products, which is what got me to do the first interview with you guys and now this one. So what started as something to get my mind off of a tragedy that my family suffered, has become another avenue for me to create something for other’s to enjoy and to earn a little income.
Which takes me to the last part of the Proverb that says that the gift will bring you before great men. I feel like this is a personal view of who or what you consider “great” or the bar you set for yourself. Having my books sold at markets or in a local book store could be the bar that I set for myself or being on The New York Times Best Seller List and becoming the James Patterson of Urban Fiction could be my “great men”. When it comes to my Lip Care Products, being sold at a local Mom and Pop store could be the bar that I set for myself or becoming the Bath & Body Works of Lip Care and having my own stores all over the world could be my “great men”.
I actually have this Proverb in my bio on my personal Instagram page because it encourages me and I believe it to be true. I’ve seen it at work in many successful peoples lives and I now see it working in my life also.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been working on the Sweet CJ’s Brand now since July 2020 and I can honestly say that I’m proud of how it’s organically growing. When I first dove into the Lip Care making business I was expecting things to take off really fast and to have sales on top of sales daily, but that’s not my reality. In reality I might make five sales one week and then go two or three weeks without any sales at all and that’s just the way business goes. I’m naturally an introvert and I spend a lot of time in my head, which is ok for a creative and is part of the reason why I love writing, but it puts me at a disadvantage in the world of sales because I don’t know a lot of people. I promote my products on Instagram and I put a lot of time and detail into each post, but my products mainly sell from word of mouth and that’s something I embrace because that’s how a lot of products that have been around for years started out. Running my own business is teaching me patience and how to be thankful, so every one sale, new follower or one like is an accomplishment to me because I started with no sales, no followers and no likes.
Starting any type of business from the ground up is a lot of work, writing books with just your own imagination is a lot of work, but I’m going to do what is necessary to reach the bar that I’ve set for myself. It’s not easy because some days I feel discouraged, frustrated and like giving up, but something on the inside keeps propelling me forward and I just keep going.
All of my products are handmade by me with 100% pure and natural oils in a very clean/sterile environment and they’re made with love. I take my time with each batch of Lip Balm and Gloss and test it on my self for days to make sure that each product works perfectly. My desire when it comes to my Lip Balms is to give your lips a ton of moisture so that you don’t have to keep reapplying all day, which is something that I’ve experienced with a lot of the brands that you find in stores. My Lip Gloss has the same amount of moisture, but also gives you that pretty glossy shine that we all love. All of my Lip Care Collections are seasonal except The Essential Collection, so when one season is gone and the products are sold out, that seasons collection will not be replenished until the following year, but with yummy new flavors and scents. So if you love a product that I’m offering, make sure you stock up on it because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Right now I have 4 collections available:
Essential Collection (Peppermint Lip Balm, Soothing Lip Balm and Peppermint Lip Gloss – I created this collection for people who suffer from dry/cracked lips and cold sores) Available All Year
Spring Collection (Strawberry Baby Lip Balm, Bubble Gum Lip Balm, Orange Sorbet Lip Balm, Blueberry Muffin Lip Balm and Bubble Gum Lip Gloss)
Winter Collection (Chocolate Mint Lip Balm, Butter Pecan Lip Balm, Wild Cherry Lip Balm and Butter Pecan Nude Lip Gloss)
Fall Collection (ON SALE $1 Red Delicious Apple Lip Balm and $1 Toasted Marshmallow Lip Balm)
Summer Collection (Coming Summer 2021)
Holiday Collection (Coming November 2021)
I’m a one woman show, I make the products, design, update and run my own website, do all staging and photos of my products, create my own flyers/product labels/Instagram post/email advertisement, etc. Every aspect of Sweet CJ’s is 100% me and the same goes for my writing. I imagined every character, every conflict/resolution, every idea or word that’s in my book came from my creative mind and my hands wrote/typed it and I’m proud of that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been in the house “in quarantine” for so long that’s it’s hard to imagine a fun day out, but if I can flash back to 2019 before the world was a bubble, I would say a week with me would go a little something like this:
I’ve been on a fitness kick since June 2020, so everyday we’ll have to start off with a 3 mile walk around my peaceful neighborhood in East Point. I’m trying to get summertime fine, so after our 3 mile walk, we would have to come in for some leg and arm exercises.
Now after we get all cleaned up and cute for the day, we’ll have to go get some food because walking 3 miles works up a serious appetite LOL. I absolutely love Mexican food, well Tex-Mex if we’re being technical and my top Tex-Mex spot is Pappasito’s Cantina in Marietta. They have the best chips, queso, guacamole and drinks hands down! My second Tex-Mex spot would have to be Tin Lizzy’s Cantina on Memorial Drive. I love how you can order your food a la carte, which is perfect if you want to just sit and have cocktails and if you do get a little hungry, you can order just one taco. My third fave is Loca Luna over on Amsterdam Ave. This is a spot for tapas and cocktails and depending on the night they have live music, so if you want to try the empanadas, the salmon and the fried plantains all at the same time but not feel bad about it, this is the spot. They also have delicious mojitos, so we would definitely have to get a pitcher of that.
I’m into beautiful peaceful places, so we can ride over to Piedmont Park and walk around, ride on scooters or just sit on a park bench and people watch. I’m a dog mom of a 10 year old West Highland White Terrier, so we can take him over to the dog park and watch him turn his nose up to all of the other dogs because he thinks he’s human LOL.
Another beautiful place is The Atlanta Botanical Garden, we could walk around there for hours looking at all the pretty plants and flowers in bloom.
I’m heavily into movies, I like a variety of genres: action, drama, horror and sci-fi, but I’m not big on love stories. So if there’s something good out, we could hit up any of the AMC theatres because a lot of them now offer cocktails.
I forgot to mention that I’m an excellent cook and I love to hang out at home. So some days I might cook up a new recipe and make my signature rum punch and we can hang out on the back porch and talk and listen to music.
I’m also a huge Football fan, so depending on the time of year maybe we could catch a Falcons game at the Mercedes Benz Stadium or go to JR Crickets at Cascade and watch some games. Either way, if it’s Football Season and there’s a game on, we will be watching it somewhere.
Last but certainly not least I’m a girl mom of the coolest 23 year old ever and if we run out of places to go or things to do, she could probably give us some ideas.
At the end of the day this is Atlanta and there’s a ton of things to do, it just depends on your preference.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My first shoutout has to go to God because he created me and gives me vision, strength and the ability to get up everyday. Secondly I want to shoutout husband Wayne and my daughter Czar because they unconditionally love me, give me honest critique, keep me grounded and are both my support system. I want to shoutout my sister Cathy who is addicted to my products and literally purchases something every time I release a new collection and shoutout to everyone else out there that has supported Sweet CJ’s and told your friends and family about it too. Last but not least, I want to shoutout you guys at Voyage ATL. I’m very appreciative of the opportunities that you offer to small and local businesses to get their information out to the public. Thank you so much!
Other: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org