OVER the last two years, Charissa Clemetson has redefined confidence for herself completely. At what she describes as the lowest point in her life, like many women she had to overcome issues such as low self-esteem and low self-worth to unlock her full potential and realise just how beautiful, rare and valuable she is — inside and out. Now at 31, Clemetson is not only the assistant social and digital media manager and acting manager of brand experience and special projects at Sagicor Group Jamaica, but she is also a skilled make-up artist, talented dancer, and co-founder of the One Body, One God dance ministry.
Of all her passions, Clemetson remembers dancing as her earliest love, for which she showed great potential from as early as three years old.
“I started dancing officially when I was four years old, because I was too young to enrol in the Praise Academy of Dance when my mother first brought me there at three,” Clemetson shared. “Since then I never stopped taking classes, and I don't think I ever will. Dance is a real passion for me. I have to dance. It is a part of who I am and I absolutely love it.”
As she blossomed into adolescence, Clemetson fancied herself a marine biologist, but by the time she left Immaculate Conception High School to attend university, the Kinsgtonian had discovered that she loved event planning, and found herself trading off the sciences for the arts. She enrolled in the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) in 2008.
“Event planning is really why I got into media,” she said. “I loved to plan events and watch how all the different elements come together, and I used to plan weddings on the side. It was while I read for my bachelors at CARIMAC that I got exposed to the other aspects of marketing and branding.”
Before moving into her current roles at Sagicor, where she has been for the last two years, Clemetson spent over seven years with the Jamaica Tourist Board, where she created web content for Brand Jamaica.
“In my current role, I am really responsible for the public image of the brand that I am managing,” she explained. “My job deals with a lot of events, but outside of that it deals with signage, advertising, and what the public experiences when they come in contact with the brand, both on and offline.”
But while she was excelling professionally, Clemetson had a lot of work to complete personally, and it took her the greater part of the year after a painful divorce to uncover the gem that she is.
“When my marriage was falling apart, at the lowest point in my life, I went to therapy and I was expressing all these feelings about not feeling wanted, and she was like, “Alright, so?...” she remembered. Though she could not understand the counsellor's seemingly callous response at first, Clemetson soon learned that when she loved and valued herself, then it truly did not matter who did not. That is when she decided that she had to rebuild her universe, starting with her confidence.
“Because in order to be a boss belle (Clemetson is one of the powerful women featured on Michelle-Ann Letman's Everyday Boss Belles interview series) you need to accept and understand that you are one,” she said boldly. “That can take time, growth and development.”
She also had to learn to be more confident in her skills and abilities. As a freelance make-up artist who specialises in natural looks, Clemetson felt inadequate when she first entered the industry professionally.
“I felt like if I didn't do every single thing, then I wasn't a good artist,” she admitted. “It wasn't until I started to grow in the industry and began interacting with other make-up artists who were renowned that I understood that what I specialise in — natural make-up — that was my power.”
Just as she learned to redefine beauty for her own self, Clemetson is keen on doing make-up in such a way that she does not change the fundamental structure of her clients' faces, but use the cosmetics to accessorise them in such a way that they see themselves differently.
“Something I try to do as a woman is to be vocal in my support of other women,” she said happily. “I'm the girl who says to another lady, 'Girl, your skin is glowing!'even if it's a complete stranger. As women we need to be celebratory of other women, because we know that so many women deal with low self-esteem, so we need to help each other to break that cycle.”
And while she uses her hands to help people and brands enhance their image, Clemetson is constantly finding new ways to use her entire body to glorify her God. In 2012, along with two friends, she founded the One Body, One God dance ministry out of a desire to unify Christians of all denominations who love to dance.
“It's composed of over 20 Christian dancers and our focus is technical excellence in dance. When we started we were only going to do one show, but we never stopped,” she reminisced.
The troupe has grown from strength to strength over the years, and not even the pandemic could stop the crew from meeting and rehearsing virtually, and offering praise in their unique way.
As she climbs to see what the future has in store for her life, Clemetson carries with her the gems that she found when she was at rock bottom.
“You have to be able to own your mistakes,” she said soberly. “We all make mistakes at every point of our lives, and it's easier to bounce back from them when we can face it, accept it and move on. You have to be able to take counsel from other people. It's OK to say you don't know how to do something, totally okay. Of course you won't take counsel from everybody, but be able to listen to other people, because there is wisdom in what they have gone through.”
The most treasured among the gems that she carries, however, is grace.
“My grace is what I want people to remember me for,” she said simply. “It's what my name means, and what I want people to experience when they interact with me.”