My name is Carissa Long, I am 31— I am a wife to Tim, mother of 3 to (Asher, Curren, and Beni), and founder and owner of TUSC. I wanted to start the story by taking you back to the 17 year old Carissa because that is where the beginning of this dream began. Sometimes the Lord’s timeline looks different and seems slow to us— but its all a process not always an instant success.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a teacher until the summer before my senior year in high school. I started working at a local clothing shop in my home town of Wrightsville Beach. Over time the Lord stirred up a strong passion in my heart to one day own my own boutique. Shortly after, I met Tim. He was good friends with the owners of the shop and he lived in the apartment over the boutique while he was attending online school. Tim grew up in California and I had always wanted to live in San Diego after I graduated school but had no friends or ties out there until I met him.
Tim had to move back home to Encinitas to finish school and we dated long distance until I found a place and I picked up and moved to the west coast in 2012. When I moved to Encinitas I had no idea how beautiful and different it could be from my hometown. The overlooks across the coastline, the highway that drove alongside the rocky cliffs, and the sea mist that whispered echoes from the ocean. It was glorious... I called this beautiful city...”where the desert meets the sea.” And from there, Tusc was born.
I started TUSC as an online clothing shop because the only money I had was enough to buy some inventory, a website, and a 1972 Cortez Motorhome. Tim helped me renovate the motorhome with the intention of
starting a mobile boutique. From 2012 —2015 I kept the website going but Tusc wasn’t growing and I wasn’t really profiting anything. It was pretty much what you would call “my hobby” lol and I was always working other jobs at the same time trying to stay afloat. During these years, I was really just trying to find my style, the brands I loved, and define the TUSC brand as a whole.
Tim and I got married in 2014 and a year later we decided to move back to Wilmington to start our family and set down roots. When we got to Wilmington I had started to feel really discouraged that TUSC was still struggling and I didn’t know if I should just sell what I had built and move on, or honestly what I should do. I felt lost in the direction God was leading me. I vividly remember one day crying on the floor of my closet asking God... “what do you want me to do? I will do whatever you want! Just lead me.” and he so sweetly whispered to me...”For I know the plans I have for you. plans to prosper you and not to harm you. to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) In that moment I was filled with the most beautiful peace that only He can give. I knew that even though I didn't know the exact steps or what would happen, I knew that He was leading me and He promised me that I would have a prosperous future filled with hope. (this is also the fruit of hiding the Lords words in your heart... when you read the word of God they will be stored in your heart and when He wants to speak they will pour out!)
One day, I felt led to walk downtown Wilmington along Front St. and I saw a tiny... I mean tinyyyy vacant storefront with a sticky note on it saying “if you want to lease, call this number” so I said “okay Lord!” I called the number and the lady somehow knew my mom and said no one else had called in a couple months and that if I wanted to rent the space she would give me 2 months free rent! I kid you not— after I said yes to renting the space, the owner received multiple calls to view the space and none of them had asked for any free rent, yet she still chose ME, so I know that God somehow protected that space for TUSC. We opened our doors to our first location on August 1st, 2015.
The store was so fruitful, not only in sales but also in relationships. I would meet new people everyday that God would allow me to minister to, love on, and encourage. I’ve made multiple life-long friends just from meeting those customers in that shop. I told the Lord that I wanted His presence to rest in this place and Isaiah 66:1 seemed to stand out to me regarding the shop-
“Thus says the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?”
I felt the Lord calling me to approach building my business through this lens; to build Him a house for His purpose. I wanted and still want to help build His kingdom, alongside Him — to be His hands and feet.
I began to pray that His dreams would fill my heart and I started to envision a larger location. When my lease was about up I decided to drive through a local outlet mall here in Wilmington called Mayfaire, and when I drove by the shop we have now I also saw a sign with a number. I felt prompted to call and after walking in the shop I knew it was the one God had for us— we signed the lease and I started designing the floor plan! I spent ages scrolling through Pinterest, searching “boutique storefronts, store layouts, retail space inspo” and making countless idea boards. The holy spirit spoke to me and said “You’re looking to other boutiques for inspiration? How much more creative inspiration do you believe I will give you?”
I’m not kidding... He downloaded all the ideas into my mind and I felt like a spring of creative juices flowing! I had so so so many people who worked alongside me with beautiful talents and visions of their own to help create what TUSC is today in our Mayfaire location.
I am so excited to share more of this journey with all of y’all. I want to be transparent and share all the parts of my/our journey along the way. I look forward to more journal posts to come, sharing things like: the joys and challenges of motherhood, business ownership, relationships and friendships, and our vision to see women transformed by Jesus and walk in all that He has called them to.
We have so much to talk about— and of course, I will always love a good outfit (lol) but this is more than that. This connection is much deeper. Thank you for being here,
I love y’all!