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Matti Charlton

Matti Charlton applied to Rise for help to turn their underwear business, retromatti, profitable. Using their art and engineering skills, Matti designed both the patterns for a collection of retro briefs and the original font jacquard woven on each waistband.

But when things didn’t work out, they found opportunity in what could have been defeat.

“Instead of being discouraged, Rise helped me see how else I could put my skill set to work,” Matti says.

Motivated to become self-sustaining through their creative talents, Matti has diversified their work across four income channels, generating passive but increasing earnings. Today, Matti has a video license and more than 20 publications on Amazon; their digital art downloads have actually increased during COVID-19; and their music is now available across all streaming platforms, earning royalties every month.

Much of Matti’s work, especially musically, celebrates diversity and the unique qualities that can often lead to torment, especially for kids—a message they connect with personally.

“I grew up very different in many ways—mental health issues, autistic, transgender, queer—and I was bullied incessantly at school,” Matti says. “I’d never been given a chance to shine in a classroom or as a leader like I experienced in the Rise program. Rise was a chance for me to re-form myself and, in a way, overwrite those childhood experiences with new ones where my differences were seen as strengths.”

It’s an attitude they wield as an antidote to failure.

“I know it’s cliché, but it’s true—a challenge is just a success that you haven’t seen yet.”