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Student paints for poverty

By Crystal Ferarri
On April 24, 2012

With acrylic paints and makeup, Marissa Croft hopes to encourage confidence and beautiful thoughts for the women of homeless shelters in Memphis.

Croft, junior public relations major, picked up a paintbrush and started painting canvases of trees last summer. Fifteen canvases lined the walls of her parent's bedroom when Croft's sister suggested she sell them.

When Croft enrolled in Professor Carrie Brown's social media class, Arbour Beauty was born. The project's goal is to paint canvases of trees, sell them for $25 to $75 and use the proceeds to buy makeup, which she will give to homeless women who come from abusive backgrounds.

"I started a blog halfway through the semester. Trees are always different, unique and continuously growing. They really show what I want to try to portray through Arbour Beauty, and what I try to apply to my own life," Croft said.

The blog,, is one tool that Croft hopes to use to further her cause. Using social media such as blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy, she is getting the word out about her project.

"To have a successful blog you have to be passionate about your subject," Brown said. "It's clear this is something she cares about. She went beyond the basic requirements for the class."

Croft has yet to be able to buy makeup and visit the shelter, as the idea for Arbour Beauty blossomed a month ago.

She admits she's always been into art, but doesn't see herself as a professional. She paints whatever comes to mind, and uses whatever paints she can get her hands on. Her paintings are usually non-realistic, and occasionally she likes to add a fabric flower or two to the canvas.

"I've always been the artsy-fartsy kid," Croft said. "When I was little, my parents tried to send me to art camps. I was always the kid who would go to Hobby Lobby with my mom for no reason."

She plans to visit Memphis Family Shelter first, but said she would like to branch out to other shelters in Memphis that benefit women as well.

"I really like what Memphis Family Shelter does. They take in women and their children who have been led to homelessness because of abusive relationships, and help the women find a job and recuperate," Croft said.

Croft said she buys all of her makeup from Target, and also plans to buy beauty products such as face wash and moisturizer for the women who don't like to wear makeup.

Croft's roommate and junior film and video production major, Shelby Wilson, filmed a start-up video promoting the project.

"When she first told me about her idea, I was really impressed by it. Students are always short on money, and she could've easily pocketed the money to put towards rent or groceries," Wilson said. "She has a huge heart for this. For as long as I've known Marissa, she's been extremely passionate about nonprofits."


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