Julie Chrissis hasn't forgotten those along the wayBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 26. 2014 8:12AM
Julie Chrissis, 39Home: Manchester
Birthplace: Fort Wayne, Ind.
High school: Nashua High School, South
College/post grad degrees: B.A., economics
Current job: Property stylist, Chrissis & Company Interiors
Key past positions held: Vice president, design director, Susan Sargent Designs, Boston
Volunteer activities: Manchester Young Professionals Network, board member; co-chair, business committee, Corner Office Connections liaison; Manchester Christian Church Care Ministry Team Member
Most admired person (outside your family): If I had to choose one person, it would be Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. I am fascinated, and inspired, by stories like hers of women who came from the most modest of upbringings to create incredible lives for themselves. Chanel went to live in an orphanage after her mother died when she was 12. There she learned to be seamstress and when she was old enough to leave the orphanage, she first tried her hand at a stage career, then had a successful career as a milliner, and finally went on to create the House of Chanel which, to this day, is one of the most admired fashion houses in the world. She truly changed women's fashion and created looks we consider to still be stylish now like the "little black dress' and red lipstick. Of course, she did all of this at a time when a woman entrepreneur was unheard of. It is incredible that someone who grew up with nothing: no money, no mentors, no family, and limited education could have the ambition, and mindset, to create so much success. Key current professional challenge: My biggest challenge is really an ongoing one. Since I usually work alone, I do not have anyone to learn from. Because of this, I read a lot of personal and professional development books, listen to podcasts, and attend conferences and seminars when I can. I also read a lot of design magazines for inspiration, but really, there is no substitute for working alongside someone great that inspires you to be better.
Last major achievement: Best of Boston Home Magazine 2013
Two peers who know you well: Heather Littlefield and Christina Campbell
Biggest problem facing New Hampshire: Our school system really needs some help. Unfortunately, this is not tomorrow's problem anymore. We are starting to see the real effects of students who graduate without basic math and English skills and it is only going to get worse. We can do better.
Favorite place in New Hampshire: In the summer, the ocean and in the winter, the ski resorts
What book are you reading now? Jack Canfield's "The Success Principles"
How do you relax? I love to spend time with friends and family going to dinner or just relaxing and catching up at home.
What websites do you visit most often? I wish I had something exciting to share here but almost all the websites I visit are work related: www.interimfurnishings.com, www.olioboard.com, and www.pinterest.com
Favorite TV show, radio station or musical artist: Favorite TV show is "Downton Abbey." I am fascinated by how different life was in a time that was really not that long ago. I cannot wait for the new season.
While Julie Chrissis' sense of style and decor has won awards, her drive to enhance goes beyond the scenes she creates in an elegantly adorned room or home.
Chrissis says she finds good deeds more fulfilling than good business.
"I think every day we are presented with opportunities to be a blessing to other people. It does not have to be anything big," said Chrissis, owner of Manchester-based Chrissis & Company Interiors.
Chrissis is a property stylist — an expert hired to maximize the visual appeal of properties on the market or headed there soon. Whether it's just some minor sprucing up or something more substantial, Chrissis has developed a reputation for her work throughout the greater Boston area and New Hampshire.
Chrissis is a successful businesswoman who hasn't forgotten those who have helped her along the way. That's one of the reasons that compels her to help someone who could use a boost, whether it's professionally or personally. She is a member of the board of directors for the Manchester Young Professionals Network and is co-chair of its business events committee, serving as liaison for the new Corner Office Connections mentoring program.
She says helping out an aspiring professional can be as simple as passing along a resume or making a few introductions to start the networking process. She also tries to hire an intern every summer, giving at least one student the hands-on experience and skills needed to get a start in the field of design.
"I didn't just want to live in a community. I wanted to be involved," Chrissis said.
Chrissis is also an active member of Manchester Christian Church, serving in its care ministry. She said one of the things she enjoys most is answering prayer requests with a card letting that person know members of the congregation are aware of whatever led to the request and praying for a resolution. Chrissis said the notes are usually to people she does not know, which adds to the reward she feels because she is reaching out beyond her own circle of friends.
"The church is huge. Most of the time I'm assigned someone I don't know. I have no idea what their reaction is when they get the note," she said. "I think that's the coolest thing."
After moving throughout the country as a child, Chrissis said her family moved to Nashua when she was about 12 and has considered New Hampshire to be her home state since then. She majored in economics at the University of New Hampshire and got a job in San Francisco with a software firm after graduating in 1997. She said it was a great job, but after about 18 months she felt something was missing. She returned to New England and ended up starting a new career in the world of design, working for a company on Newbury Street in Boston.
"I kind of fell into it," she said. I had no idea I was good at it."
She started her own company late in 2005 and moved it from Boston to Manchester about a year later. She said much of her work is still in Boston, but she and her small staff also cover the Granite State and taken jobs in other parts of New England as well.
Chrissis' work has been written up in a number of publications, and last year the Chrissis and Co. Interiors received a Best of Boston award from Boston Magazine in the category of home staging. Chrissis is proud of the award, but is not the type to dwell too long on a particular success. Chrissis' business and philanthropic efforts don't leave much free time. She says she spends most of it trying to stay caught up - and ahead - of the competition in the world of property staging.
"I constantly research my competition. read every publication to try and keep up with things," she said. "I'm always trying to challenge myself and be different."