Marissa Whitley Tago
Session #1: It's Time: Elevating the Voices of Black Women
Marissa Whitley Tago is an Interior Designer and Owner of The Whitley Co., a full-service
design studio in Columbia, Missouri. Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, she was an active
child, whose entrepreneurial spirit quickly evolved from fundraising for school activities to
organizing closets, asking about heirlooms and creating more livable spaces for her elderly
neighbors who had turned into extended family to her through years of entering their home
and sharing stories of their lives. Marissa knew then that she could use her love of helping
others while gaining life lessons, treasured stories and a deep sense of purpose while
shaping an interior space for her neighbors no matter what the task.
Today, Marissa has a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design, and she enjoys
creating beautiful spaces for her clients, while emphasizing function and
implementing organization. Interior design gives Marissa the ability to enhance people's
lives in the most intimate settings.
At age 18, Marissa moved to New York City after winning the Miss Teen USA Pageant in
2001, and embarked on a whirlwind year that furthered her love of being of service. In 2003,
she was hired as a VJ with MTV. She then moved to Chicago where she expanded her
resume with work for a non-profit organization then as a Marketing Assistant for The State
of Illinois while modeling and acting with Stewart Talent.
In 2009, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked for various companies
including Cypress Land Company working in commercial property management along with
serving sushi at the visually stunning Katsuya Restaurant in Hollywood designed by
With each new opportunity, one thing remained a constant in Marissa's life, her love of
making spaces better than she found them. Her design aesthetic was broadened and her
life enriched with each new adventure and she brings that unique perspective and passion
for life to each space that she designs for her clients. Marissa is a proud Navy wife and
mother of three children. Marissa is also a member of the American Society of Interior
Designers (ASID) and was awarded the "Emerging Business of the Year" by the City of
Columbia in 2019.